Edge of the Earth Rd. Journal
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Phil relaxing on the porch and
watching the birds at
Edge of the Earth Rd.
A Special Day
November 5, 2002
    No, the special day is not the election.  Something more important.

     Winter birding has officially arrived here at Edge of the Earth Road.

     This summer and fall had to be the slowest birding season of all the years I've lived here.  Too many grasshoppers, tree buds, vine fruit, and other insectual distractions for the birds to come to the feeders.  Hardly any did.  This was truly brought home by the fact that during the Big Sit! held here a few weekends ago, the most poignant and invigorating moment was an argument over the identification of a juvenile House Sparrow.  Now THAT will get any birder's heart pumping!

     Then this fine day came in with all its damp, overcast glory.  It was barely light when I heard three wrens singing, with smatterings of whirls, clicks, clucks, and rasps in between.  Carolina, Bewick's, and Winter.  Each one in a different corner of the acreage.  Good omen.

     Daylight afforded me the joy of witnessing the arrival of the Dark-eyed Juncos, Harris's Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, and an Eastern Towhee.  They were accompanied by the usual suspects:  Blue Jays, Cardinals, Titmice, Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-bellied and Red-headed Woodpeckers, etc. ....all coming to the feeders.

     Warmed my heart to see the return of old friends.  Oh, yeah, did I mention the snake?

     My wife gets up at five in the morning to get ready for work.  She came in and woke me at 6:05 with these words:
"Phil, you need to get up.  There's a snake in the house."

     She said it so calmly, I thought she might be referring to me (which would not be out of the question).  I got up and followed her into the living room where by one of the braided rugs was a foot-long, charming Copperhead.  It matched the color of the rug exactly.  When she had first seen it, she'd thought that it was a strand of the rug that had come loose and actually bent down to take hold of it.  Then "the penny dropped."

     "What do we do?" she asked calmly.

     Let me set the scene for you.  Here I stood in all my male grandeur, barefoot, torn underwear, tousled hair, and as dead-headed as I've ever been in my life.  It was not the sort of question to which I was prepared to give an immediate answer.  I could not even get out the words, "let me think."  Instead, I looked up at her, back down at the snake, then back up at her.  I was at a loss.

     "I don't think we have a jar big enough to put him in."

     "How do you know it's a 'him'?" I asked perceptively.

     Her response was "The Look" that only wives know how to give.

     "Well, we can't very well just have him as a house guest," I offered as a possibility.

     "The Look" again.

     She stepped around the unmoving snake and went into the kitchen, returning with a pint jar and salad plate.  I thought of sarcastically asking what she planned on doing with that but instead offered an alternative plan.

     "The dustpan with the long handle on it.  Why not just sweep him in and take him outside?"

     She looked surprised as if, for the first time, I had shown a modicum of intelligence.  She got said apparatuses; one sweep of the broom and said snake was in the dustpan, and I held the door for her as she took it outside to release it in more congenial environs.  When she came back, she said, "I didn't see it fall out of the dustpan."  We immediately began looking around us.  Finally, we decided that if it had gotten out of the dustpan, it did so outside.

     Probably.

     Our conclusion about the whole affair was that the cold had driven it to search out a warm winter haven and the dog door had offered entrance.

     "If it had been a Gopher snake, I would have let it stay in the house," she said reflectively.  My kind of woman!

     Snakes in the house.  Birds at the feeders.  I tell you, all is right with the world.

     My wife just called to say she had voted.  She said, "I wrote in Harris's Sparrow instead of the candidates for...."

     Yep, my kind of woman.

     Good birding, friends.

(c) Copyrighted by Phil Floyd 2002