Saturday, September 5, 2009

Snakes!(and dharma)

Prairie Rattlesnake
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton

Every morning I take the dogs out to the trail that leads up to Roam Free Park a couple miles out of town. It is a steep walk, good for the aerobic conditioning and the dogs can run free. We often leave the trail and climb up through the buffalo grass and little blue stem, the prickly pear and the golden rod, the liatris and the sunflowers, well, you get the idea. It is beautiful. Much of the way there is a fantastic view of the Missouri River/ lake, the old bridges, the town. The view to the north is a vast expanse of river, hills, prairie and sky. It is one incredibly beautiful park. Yesterday after we scrabbled through the grasses and wildflowers and got over the ridge to the level part of the park where there are a few benches and some mowed area and a picnic shelter, you know, "park proper" so to speak, I encountered a newcomer to the area with his two dogs. As we chatted, he told me how the day before he was up there and a tourist was taking pictures of his two children. Suddenly they heard the rattlesnake a couple of feet behind the kids, near a bench. The man called his two children and Jim warned him that the snake was very poisonous and that he should put his kids in their vanhe took the fellow to be from another country. The snake began to head for his hole when Jim grabbed it by the tail, pulled it out and tossed it. he had meant to fling it over the ridge into the acres of wildness that makes up most of the park, but alas, aiming an angry rattlesnake isn't as easy as one might imagine! The snake landed several yards in the opposite direction. Jim, fearful of leaving a venomous serpent where folks spend a lot of time, picked up a rock and killed the poor beastie. As he told me the story he expressed genuine regret because he doesn't like killing anything.

I have to say, I like snakes. I find them fascinating and beautiful. I hate killing any animal so much that I am a vegetarian, and I love me some burgers and pork chops! In spite of this I had to say that 1) he has a lot more in the way of cojones than I do! and 2) He probably did the right thing. Remember, I HATE killing critters. But if that snake had been sunning that morning after shedding, it might very well have struck those children, or someone else, maybe me, maybe you! Ideally, Jim would have caught it and moved it, but THAT is a dangerous proposition. Of course, so is yanking deadly vipers out of a hole. He shouldn't have grabbed it in the first place, but once he did, he didn't have much choice but to dispatch it.

At first I thought, what a contrast! Such beauty and such danger! But as I walked back down(yes, through the grasses and flowers-but watchfully) I observed all the grasshopers and the leaves they chomped. I noticed the birds above that prey upon the grasshoppers. Then I watched the turkey vultures that clean up after the predators soaring on the updrafts and I realized, it is all just as it is. I regretted the death of the snake, but it is all part of the whole and it is just as it is,

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