Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The First Day of Spring

Back in Alabama, we know that Spring has really arrived when the Pecan trees bud out. The Pecans are the first to go dormant in the winter, and the last to come out in the spring. After they get leaves, there aren't any more frosts.

For anyone who hasn't noticed, things are done a little differently in Nebraska. The beginning of spring is apparently announced by the movement of snakes, of all things. Snakes. At home, the awakening is a time to be dreaded, requiring the use of extreme caution, sprinkling of sulfur and other snake repellents, and just generally hoping that the snakes stay in their place, away from the people and the chickens. Ninety percent of the snakes I have seen in the wild in my life were venomous, not friendly little creatures who slip through the grass. No. Six foot Diamond Back Rattlers, well, they don't exactly inspire warm, happy thoughts. And of course, there is the alarming takeover of Florida by giant pythons.... This might explain the violence with which this crew often reacts to the news of a snake in the yard.

But that is an Alabama norm. When in Rome and all that. so, the Commodore decided that we should take part in a custom of the natives of these parts. So...

Brant is a Western Plains Garter snake. He is about two and a half feet long, which, according to the book that the Commodore dug up is about as large as these guys get. Brant is a very pleasant snake who doesn't mind being handled by a crowd of boys. He proved that he really wasn't bothered too much by eating the worms that they dug up for him.

Although the 1st Mate and the 1st AB look smooth in these shots, it was actually the Commodore who was the first to hold Brant, courageously picking him up off the ground when he escaped from his bowl. Of course, once the Commodore had handled him, the rest of the crew fell in.

Well, except for the 2nd AB who needed a little convincing.

But he got the hang of it.

Only the Ship's dog was really set against handling the snake. She really didn't seem to get the idea that the boys were in no danger, and continued to desire the snakes demise, particularly when he nearly escaped in the house. I suppose there are just some tricks you can't teach an old dog.

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