On Saturday morning I was meditating in the basement, cuddled delightfully beneath a heavy winter blanket, listening to the fire crackling merrily in the woodstove, the outside temperature hovering near freezing.
It was one of those “ideal” meditations in which the monkey-mind-full-of-thoughts decided to cease its internal yakking. Blessed silence ensued. Oh, you meditators, you know the delight of this silence, don’t you? You sigh in the deepest relaxation, muscles releasing at the deepest level, and you know that Heaven on Earth exists.
My heart lilted joyfully and…are you ready for this?…I opened my blissful eyes to see…staring at me from across the room, its neck raised and poised, its body slithering in a typical s-curve…yes. You’re right. It was a blessed garter snake. In our basement.
It’s funny. When you’ve been meditating deeply, you don’t startle and scream and stomp and cry and carry on. You don’t jump on tables and holler.
I stared at the garter snake. The garter snake stared at me. It raised its neck and peered closer. I raised my neck and peered closer.
The mind refused to panic. It thought–very logically–“We should look for something to rescue that poor garter snake who obviously must want to go outside.”
I carefully unwrapped from the soft comfortable safe blanket and moved toward the closet, fearlessly, not even quavering, hoping to find a box or container to lovingly encompass our errant little snake, somehow slide a cardboard under the box, and then deposit him gently outside so he could find his lost home, poor thing, just a minute, snakey, your rescuer will be right back.
I searched diligently but found only a plastic bucket. Returned to the scene to attempt snake rescue, but, oh no, was it a meditative vision? You know, the kind of vision some meditators report where they see invisible things with vivid clarity after breathing deeply in the ethers. Yes, I’m sure it was a vision. Must have been a vision.
No snake to be found. Mister Garter Snake had slithered somewhere. Perhaps under the refrigerator, the washer, the dryer, the woodpile slats, or among two hundred pieces of split wood.
I leisurely walked upstairs when the immensity of this event struck.
A SNAKE IS LIVING IN OUR BASEMENT!!!
The mind woke up fully and began to blather, Oh my goodness, there’s a snake in the basement. Oh my goodness. How are we going to live in this house? Oh good, I’m leaving soon. I’m going downstate on Tuesday. Barry can deal with it. Oh no. How are we supposed to do the laundry? I’m not doing laundry anymore. Forget the laundry. Thank goodness we don’t need fires in the basement too much any more. Oh my goodness. OH MY GOODNESS! I CAN’T LIVE IN THIS HOUSE ANY MORE!!!
Barry traipses in from the garage.
“Barry,” I say very calmly, “we have a scenario.”
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Monday morning. We still have a snake living in our basement. At least, we think we have a snake living in our basement. Unless it was a meditative vision (OK, I’m voting for the meditative vision) we have a snake living in our basement.
We have not seen it again. We’ve carefully walked down the stairs. We’ve named him. We speak to him as we descend our circular stairway:
“Hi, Sherman! Hey, Sherman, how you doing today, buddy? Do you want to show yourself? Where are you, buddy? We won’t step on you, we won’t…Hey, where are you, Sherm?”
Sherman refuses to answer. Refuses to show himself.
I think it’s Barry’s fault, personally.
On Saturday morning, before the aforementioned meditation, we lazily lounged on the upstairs couch sipping coffee and tea.
“I really need an idea for a column,” said the husband, sighing. He’s the editor of our local newspaper, the L’Anse Sentinel, and he writes a column mostly every week. It’s like a blog. He chatters about this and that. People like it. But it’s hard–as some of you bloggers know–to come up with a pertinent topic, week after week for more than thirty years. (I wouldn’t know about that. I have an excess of topics, usually. Not to say they’re pertinent. Not to say I would still have topics after thirty years of blogging.)
So guess what Mr. Columnist says with great happiness and glee uponst discovering our snake scenario?
“Oh good!” he delights, “Now I have a column! Oh wonderful! And you have a blog. Isn’t this wonderful?”
Now, readers, how wonderful is this really? We have a two foot long garter snake named Sherman living in the basement. (OK, he could be one foot. He could be one and a half feet. He’s harmless, he’s not poisonous, he’s probably a stellar character, perhaps even a guru of the garter variety.) Is this worth a column and blog? Did the Universe decide to answer Barry’s morning plea for column material in this humorous manner?
Barry, on the other hand, thinks yours truly is to blame. I thoughtfully carried in two dozen black plastic garbage bags on Friday night. Set them on the basement floor. These bags–sweet bags!–had protected our garden tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers and squash from a hard freeze. He thinks that maybe an errant garter snake slipped into one of those bags that Kathy hauled into the basement.
Kathy doesn’t like the idea that she might have hugged a snake.
I have no photos of Sherman to show you. You know, like some people roll out baby pictures to show off the new occupant of their house.
Only hoping that Sherman isn’t a Diana! Oh no! What if Diana is giving birth to snake children in the basement as we speak? Oh no!!
I’m outa here in less than 24 hours, readers, for more than a week. Mr. I-Need-A-Column can name the babies while I’m gone. But this is not a permanent arrangement. Sherman, Diana and the babies are outa here as soon as we can figure out where they live!
In the meantime, I have a basket of laundry ready to wash.
Anyone want to come over and do it?