The first of 2008

I was mowing today and saw our yard’s very first garter snake of 2008.

I knew this moment was going to happen sooner or later, and we’re about a month after some people have seen their first snake of the year, but it’s a little disheartening because Sara and I have done so much work to snake-proof the yard. We know there’s going to be no way to truly rid our yard of all snakes, but our ambition has been to make the yard the most undesirable snake habitat it can be.

This has involved major weeding projects, total removal and transplant of flower gardens, and clearing out the cluttered vegetation between our garage and the neighbor’s fence — we filled 10 lawn bags in one day a few weeks ago. Last year, we encountered way more snakes than we would have hoped to, but we didn’t close on the house until the end of April and really weren’t living here full-time until late July. Taking over the home of an old hippie who moved out a year before we even bought the place gave snakes plenty of time to find cozy places to live without the hazard of running into people.

So the whole plan this year was to just get on top of the situation and keep at it so that we never fell behind. Snakes would wake up from their warm boulder of hibernating friends and siblings, crawl out to our lot, and think to themselves, “This isn’t nearly as inviting as I remember it,” and then move on somewhere else (preferably the country).

If there’s any bright spot to today’s sighting, it’s that the snake was very close to the boundary of our property, near a little bush I had yet to destroy (which offered ground cover) and very close to the gap between the garage and the neighbor’s fence. So if he was around in 2007, that would have been very friendly territory. He slithered away into the neighbor’s yard before I could get to him, so I hope he went and told all of his friends how our place has gotten all gentrified and boring.

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