Thursday, June 21, 2012

baby snakes

few things make me as sad as accidentally killing animals with machines.  often it's as if I can't do anything about it--a bird flies out in front of the car, an insect hops directly into the lawn mower--but sometimes I think that if only I'd been paying better attention maybe I could have.

when it comes to cars I think we're talking the makings of a holocaust even if all we consider are insects.  I don't know how many hundreds or hundreds of thousands of insects I kill each time I drive for any distance.  there are always fresh markings on my windshield and bumper and even when I'm driving slowly I feel bees and flies slam against my arm. 

I've hit fewer animals with my car than I have with the lawnmower.  if you haven't screwed things up too badly then if you have a couple acres out here on the rim you'll have billions of squirming, breathing life, and the odds of your having a fatal interaction with them increases. I have no clue how many insects die under the blade but I know I've hit rabbits, frogs, moles and mice.  once I ran over a nest of baby bunnies and killed three.  two were just smears but the third that was probably under them was on its back next to the divet they'd been in, wriggling and thrashing.  I had cut off one of its paws.  I drowned it in the spring that forms in the early summer by one of the outhouses and threw its body over into the cornfield.

today it was a snake.  it was about six or seven inches long, probably immature.  on one of my passes across the lawn I noticed a movement in the grass and saw its sleek black and tan body turning over and over.  there wasn't much left of its head; it had probably struck at the blade like it would against a predator.  but I couldn't bear the thought of anything continuing to move like that if I could help it so I picked it up--its body was dry and warm and felt like living meat rolling in my hand--took it to the road where there's a lot of new paving being done, and pressed most of it under a goodsized rock.  that seemed only to make it thrash more and I'd gone beyond logic now and was reacting like the snake's body, just on nerves, and I couldn't imagine anything being in that much pain so I dropped it into the water that's collected in the culvert at the end of the drive.  it seemed almost immediately at peace, or stopped moving at least, and settled into its place at the bottom of the pool.

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