31 Days: Apocalypse, Now ~ Day 13 :: Snake Surprise!

metalorbburiedfernKCCExtNLNH29Sept2018Welcome to day 13 of 31 Days of Apocalypse, Now, a month of posts about apocalypse, revelation, uncovering what’s been hidden. Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may only peripherally seem related. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.


I’m often surprised by snakes. They hear me before I see them. That’s what happened here, on a trail in Enfield, NH, on Wednesday. I had been looking for them, expecting them, on my walk out — because it was a warm day, sunny, after days of rain and coolness, and I knew they’d want to sun themselves, bask, as I did — but I didn’t notice any on that stretch of a mile or so. On the walk back, when I was thinking about something else —


— this garter snake scurried off the trail, well away from me, and then held still. They don’t always stop for a photo, so I was grateful.

… more flickering than any god
The small snake gathered glidingly and slid,
But with such cadence to its rapid advance
That when it stopped once more to raise its head
It was stiller than the stillest mineral
And when it moved again moved the way
A curl of water slips along a stone
Or like the ardent progress of a tear
Till, deeper still, it gave the rubbled grass
And the dull hollows where its ripple ran
Lithe scintillas of exuberance,
Moving the way a chance felicity
Silvers the whole attention of the mind. — from “Garter Snake” by Eric Ormsby


About 3 minutes later, I happened upon another one, but this time I saw the snake before the snake heard me, and as I came to a stop, s/he remained frozen in place, “stiller than the stillest mineral,” knowing the time to scurry had passed, hoping for the best. I was again grateful.


One of my favourite things about walking in the woods is the element of surprise. Who or what will I encounter, unexpectedly? What will be disclosed, revealed, unhidden, and will I notice it? Will its “chance felicity silver the whole attention of my mind”?


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