Thursday, August 02, 2007

Negotiating with a Snake

Two nights ago we had some heavy rain and a fair amount of flooding which is ongoing today. The ground is so hard that once it rains heavily the water sits and doesn't soak in. I new that our nearby desert would be great fun for mountain biking with the water and mud and so yesterday afternoon I headed out there.

To get into the desert I have to cross a canal and dyke which I do by a footbridge which is about six feet wide. Half way across the bridge I slammed on brakes because a very large rattler was sitting in the middle of the path, coiled and ready to strike. One of the effects of the flooding, I'm guessing, is that the rattlers are coming into the communities from the desert because their area is under water and on our side of the flood-protecting dyke it's dry.

I tried shouting at it to get it to go back but it wasn't interested. I tried to talk snake to it but it wasn't interested. Snake is an unusual language that very few people know how to talk correctly. Most people mistakenly just hiss at the snake. The true snake talker knows that you have to have to drop in a few clicks and vary the hissing along the sides of your tongue as well as under your front teeth.

After negotiations failed I decided to cycle-the-gauntlet. My intention was to back up and pick up as much speed as possible and whizz past the diamondback before it got a chance to strike. Unfortunately my courage left me before I had even turned the bike around.

Instead, I put the bike between me and the snake and slowly walked past its hissing, writhing coil. Remember that the path is only six feet wide and the rattler was in the middle so I only had three feet to play with.

I tried to keep the spokes of the front wheel between me and it although in my mind's eye I saw it coming straight through the spokes and ripping my leg off.

Disappointingly for you, the reader, but not for me, the snake did not strike but did increase its hissing to that of an over-cooked kettle.

The desert was excellent fun as expected. At one point the entire front cog was under water in the deepest drift that I crossed.

I chose to return via another route for fear that I might meet the rattler again.

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