It's a lovely day here in Central Ohio.
The calendar says mid-November, but the sky is blue, the temperature is moderate and the breeze is heavily scented with drying leaves that crunch delightfully as we ride over them on what will probably be our last bike ride of the season. Tom rides ahead of me with his arms spread wide, looking so young and free that my heart almost aches with joy. Our life is not a fairy tale and no one would ever mistake it for happily ever after, but in this moment he is my handsome, carefree prince and there is a hint of magic in the air. All is well. All is so, so well.
I am flying. I am free. Riding a bike is transcendental. I am fifteen. I am eight. I am fifty. I am happy. I pass him on the left, smiling over my shoulder at him. He returns the smile and says something wildly complimentary about my posterior. It is inaccurate, but sincere and I smile even wider -- for no-one this time. For me. For the universe. For this moment.
"WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Look!" he says, interrupting my internal reverie. I slow down and look over my shoulder. He has gotten off his bike and is looking towards the woods. I get off my bike and head towards him.
"What is it?"
"Every fairy tale needs a good old-fashioned villain. The words are Moriarity's but the role in my personal fairy tale was being played by a sinister serpent, lying in wait by the side of the road, replacing my peaceful sanctuary with cold fear", I typed.
"What are you writing?"
"Blog post. Let me read it to you so far." I did.
"Sinister serpent? It was a garter snake."
"I'm scared of snakes. It might be irrational, but I am. You're afraid of some irrational things, too, y'know."
He looked at the ground for a moment, temporarily chastised. "It's true, I am. But it was just a little garter snake. I can't believe you're going to blog about it."
"It was horrifying."
"It was taking a sun bath by the side of the trail."
"I rode right by it without even seeing it. I would've never known it was there if you hadn't stopped."
"No! That's the scariest part! I was completely unaware of the lurking danger."
"You were not in any danger. It was a garter snake. It was camouflaged. It was not going to hurt you."
"Lulling me into a sense of confidence and well-being before striking at me with its venomous fangs."
"Garter snakes do not have venomous fangs."
"I can't believe you're defending it."
"I can't believe you're vilifying it!"
"It vilified itself when it decided to be born cold-blooded. It's unnatural."
So. Cold-blooded, cold-hearted villain or misunderstood innocent? You make the call. I'll respect it, even if I don't agree.
|Photo courtesy of Diane Wiegman. Tom says our snake looked pretty much exactly like this. I wouldn't know. I didn't look at it long enough to make a note of any of its particular physical characteristics.|