Sunday was an odd mix.
We enjoyed the unusually moderate temperature and the light breezes, as well as the usual quail families visiting the seed-block under the ash. Early on I turned over the compost bins -- and a particular small pleasure was recognizing a grapefruit plant in one of them, rescuing it, and giving it a new home in a regular stand-up pot, just like more respectable plants. (It won't survive here, but we can try.)
We also enjoyed a surfeit of sports on TV: a particularly interesting golf tournament, the debuts of two heralded rookie quarterbacks in the morning NFL games, Serena Williams prevailing in an unusually stirring Women's Final in New York, and Sunday brunch timed to coincide with the start of the San Francisco 49ers' visit to Lambeau Field.
I missed part of the third quarter of the 'Niners' win over the Packers in Green Bay.
Dael sreamed the cat's name in a tone of voice that got me off the couch instantly. She'd heard the familiar rattling and seen the cat curiously staring into the high grass where the sound had come from; and I heard the familiar scream.
The cat retreated to safety in the garage, and I closed the cat-door before heading out the back with the snake-noose. Dael thought the snake was on the path between the little ash and the afghan pine, so I worked myway around to the other end of that path. Some yellow flower had started blooming like crazy because of the rains, and I made a mental note to go back to that spot and photograph the bees on it.
The rattler was indeed there, right in the middle of the path -- and not best pleased to see me. I stuck the noose (which, in case you haven't read previous blog entries on the subject (7 July, with a picture of the snake-noose), extends out the far end of a hollow tube, so that I can work it at a relatively safe distance) near the rattler, who lunged forward and, as I tightened it, was caught. But we hadn't yet brought the plastic garbage can around to the site, and I had the noose so tight on his neck that I loosened it slightly, and he escaped under the Mormon Tea. Dael brought the garbage can, and I tried again.
I thought it would be tough to catch him in there, because of the weeds and branches. I floated the idea of maybe just killing this one. Dael vetoed that, because the snake hadn't attacked the cat -- and, if it was the same one, hadn't attacked her a few days earlier when it might have. It had been resting, coiled, in high grass that shielded it from view, while she was rooting out goat-heads. It rested so peacefully that it hadn't moved when she accidentally approached it, and just stared sleepily at us when we photographed it.
So I tried. I could see him curled under the bush, and tickled him with the loop until he jutted his head forward into it, and this time he ended up safely trapped in the garbage can, where he stayed until the 'Niners' game was over.
Although we were pretty sure he wasn't one of the two rattlesnakes I'd moved already this summer, we'd decided to take him further away. So once the 'Niners game ended I placed the plastic can in the truck, secured in one position, with another bungee holding the lid on the can. We stopped to thank Dave again for making the snake-noose, then drove to a more isolated area. (At one point we spooked a family of quail, and for quite a long time they scooted along the side of the road in front of us, evidently too panicked to consider veering right and getting off the road altogether.)
I carried the can a good ways down an arroyo, away from the dirt road, to toss him.
Releasing him didn't go so well this time, maybe because of the narrow arroyo, with brush on both sides. First time I tossed the can, he coiled and rattled, but the can was too close to him for me to just pick it up and walk off. When I did approach, he retreated back into the can, which I then picked up and tossed in a different spot; but I tossed it so ineptly that he was again close to the can, this time between the can and us.
Back at our home, the sun was plunging down behind the west mesa, the cat was under the covers, and the freshly ground mesquite flour smelled almost chocolate-ish.
Soon the coyotes were howling their evening symphony. Meanwhile the San Francisco Giants beat the Dodgers 4-0.
Then this morning, as soon as I finished posting this and went outside, I found Dael
We felt torn. We'd have liked to leave this one be; but peace of mind and the cat's safety said otherwise. I felt kind of sad getting the snake-noose. Initially when I touched it with the noose, it flicked its tongue occasionally but did not otherwise move. Finally I had to touch it with the end of the metal pole, and even then it barely raised its head. Thus the noose was around it right near its head, but I managed to keep the tension sufficient to move the snake into the garbage can without harming it.
After coffee when we went to take him for a ride, he was silent. I've carried that can with a rattler in it for a couple of hundred meters with the snake cursing me out in Snake the whole way; yesterday afternoon's customer rattled vigorously every time I approached the garbage can, even though he couldn't really see me, let alone attack. This guy? Nothing. If I hadn't known better I'd have guessed I'd open up the can out in the desert and find no one there. As we drove I mused that if ever a rattler had a sweet disposition, it was this one.
spotted a tiny Texas horned toad hiding under a sprig of vegetation. He was about two inches long, maybe less.
He reminded us of the babies we'd kept looking for after watching an adult bury her eggs near the ash tree.
We contemplated him for awhile, warning him about the huge monster we'd unleashed not too far from him.
Then we went home to start our day.