By Janice Lindsay
We'se often had garter-snake residents in our garage, but we'se never had one as bold as Samantha. Or it might be Samuel; our relationship hasn's grown quite personal enough for me to figure that out.
Our garage possesses a snake-friendly corner, just inside the door. A snake can slither in through a tiny gap in the door molding, and maybe through other entrances we haven's discovered. The builders of the house created a concrete block along the base of the garage wall, about two inches tall and two inches deep. They covered that, except for the ends, with a wooden block about twice those dimensions. The arrangement is perfect for snake repose and concealment.
Most snakes prefer concealment. We'se discovered their presence only by finding a shedded skin.
Samantha prefers the “repose” part of the arrangement. In the cool of a summer morning, I might find her 12 inches coiled into a four-inch rectangle on the corner of the concrete block. She regards me with a cool steady gaze. She seems to say, “So you have a snake in your garage. I's not moving. Get used to it.”
Historically, the relationship between snake and woman has been shaky. The snake in the Garden of Eden tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the tree that had been forbidden to her and her partner, Adam. Eve succumbed to the temptation, then she tempted Adam who also succumbed. Thus began a time-honored tradition: When things go wrong, blame somebody else. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake; God decreed that there would forever be enmity between the woman and the snake.
So it's not my fault if I get skin-crawly at the thought of snakes in our garage. I don's know how many of her compatriots have joined Samantha. I'se seen at least one tail disappearing into the woodwork. Besides, it's unsettling, the way she slithers and twists when she does decide to move. Other wild denizens have two legs, or four, or six; it's easier to relate to creatures that move on legs.
Still, I don's interfere much with Samantha. I respect her pluck.
My first personal encounter with Samantha occurred one day when I needed to drive the car out of the garage, and she was stretched out behind it. I tried to persuade her to move by prodding her gently with my broom handle. She was having none of that. Finally I resorted to sweeping her aside with the brush part. To my dismay, I must have poked her with one of the bristles, because I drew a little blood. After that, I felt beholden to her.
She apparently decided to give me another chance, for she returned. I knew because I saw her in her favorite pose. As the summer day grows warmer, she often rests with her head outside the garage, poked through the gap in the molding, while the rest of her remains curled up inside.
One late afternoon recently, as I was coming home, I aimed my car at the garage and saw Samantha stretched out parallel to the garage door, a few inches in front of it. Her head lay exactly in the path of my driver-side wheels.
This presented an unexpected opportunity to easily diminish the garage-snake population. But I could not bring myself to become the executioner. I stopped the car, got out, explained to Samantha that she really must move. Slowly, with apparent reluctance, she curled her way into the grass beside the driveway.
I would not be unhappy if Samantha decided to live somewhere else. She probably feels the same about me.