Sunday, June 10, 2012


I was working in my lupine patch at the farm—about two acres of beautiful spring flowers that I nurture because the endangered Karner Blue butterfly requires lupines for its survival.  Periodically I go in and cut out rogue trees and brush that want to take over the open area and shade out the lupines.

I was doing this the other afternoon, while Steve was concentrating on finding a Karner Blue and taking its picture.  In among a thick patch of lupines I noticed what appeared to be a mottled wooden stick about four or five feet long and as big around as a shovel handle.  I was about to kick it—and it moved.  It was then I realized that I had nearly kicked a snake—a good sized one, too.

We haven’t seen many snakes at the farm in recent years, and then only garter snakes that seem to enjoy living in our wood pile and scaring the bejeebers out of those who help me move the wood pile each spring into the woodshed.

I got a good look at its head, and its eyes.  We have some 22 different kinds of snakes in Wisconsin and only two of them are poisonous.  The snake I saw had a round eye; the two poisonous snakes in the state have cat eyes (elliptical). Wisconsin’s poisonous snakes are the timber rattler and the swamp rattler.  See for a good discussion of all of Wisconsin’s snakes, including where you can expect to find various kinds.

What kind of snake had I nearly kicked with my boot—a Fox Snake, often called a Pine Snake.  Quite a beautiful creature with its reddish-brown blotchy patches on its topside.  The Fox Snake’s favorite meal includes chipmunks, gophers, field mice, even small rabbits.  They are constrictors meaning they strike their prey, wrap their body around it and squeeze it to death.  Then they swallow it whole. 

The one I saw wanted nothing to do with me as it slithered away. I followed it to a gopher hole where it slid in, not to be seen again.  I wondered about the occupants of the gopher hole.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Thinking for yourself is hard work.  So much easier to grab onto someone else’s thinking—and then wonder why you don’t feel right.

CHECK THIS OUT:  My one day workshop: “Writing From Your Life,” October 13, 8-4. The Clearing, Door County. For more information go to.


June 13, 6:00 p.m.  Wisconsin Public TV Major Donors Meeting, Center For Discovery, UW-Madison Campus.  Why education matters.

June 15, 1-2:00 p.m. S.E. Wisconsin Book Festival, UW-Waukesha campus, Waukesha. Garden Wisdom

June 20, 5:30 p.m. Ager Delta Electric Co-op annual meeting, Grace Church, Gladstone, Michigan. History of rural electrification. 

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