June 09, 2012


Through the marsh

My parents’ camp is a peninsula tucked into marsh that’s protected by the 1972 wetlands legislation. Their dock extends into a little creek filled with cattails. When the water is high, water snakes will sometimes slither onto the dock to sun themselves.

This year, the water is low, and the snakes we see from the dock swim through mats of weeds and lily pads. We don’t have any venomous snakes in this northern climate. They’re common water snakes, harmless to humans.

But even common water snakes can be endlessly fascinating. When Red-haired Niece, sitting on the bow of a boat, decided to lure a snake over towards her, we all watched from the dock. She leaned down, flicked her fingers to make the water splash, and the snake moved toward her.

“Put your toe in, and see if the snake will take a bite,” Shaggy Hair Boy suggested. Pretty soon we were all splashing the water to lure the snake to the dock, but our clumsy attempts didn’t work at all. Red-haired Niece would splash lightly, the snake would move toward her, one of us would splash, and the snake would retreat. Only Red-haired Niece had the right touch.

We stood there in the sun for twenty minutes, just watching the snake move in response to my niece, and trying to figure out why it was so attracted to her fingers. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that the snake would move towards the vibration: after all, we’ve seen these water snakes eat little frogs, and I’m guessing that the splashes must have been a good imitation of a little frog. But mostly, we’ve decided that Red-haired Niece is a snake charmer.


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone WANT to lure a snake over? Ew.


Rana said...

'cause snakes are cool? :)