The June-pictures and Cottage-Life threads intersect in a photograph of a stiffly-serpentine beast that appeared on our beach. With a true story about a real serpent.

Monster on a North-Keats-Island beach

OK, I confess to finding and placing the little stone representing the critter’s eye.

Boys and Beasts · One time last summer, our son invited a friend over for a day of Cottage Life. They vanished into the woods, as is entirely proper for children of that age. I was under the cottage considering a recalcitrant water heater when I heard their voices, shrilly excited, approaching rapidly. Then Lauren’s, cool but firm: “That’s nice; now take it outside, boys.”

A few minutes later, a frightened shriek from not too far away, and the boys’ chatter returning to the cottage, faster this time. My son saying in a practical tone of voice: “If it was poisonous, you’ll die in about an hour.”

It seems they’d caught some poor little garter snake and, after showing it off to Lauren, his friend did something that provoked it to turn around and bite him — well, gum him, they have no teeth to speak of — hard enough to make him let go. His skin wasn’t even broken, and once they realized our sympathies were with the snake, the boys went back to the woods.



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From: dr2chase (Jul 04 2009, at 06:29)

Are they any poisonous snakes at all in that part of the world? Your diagonal opposite (Florida) has plenty. I am told that I (at age 4) dragged my 2-year-old brother out of a sandbox because a red-yellow-black snake showed up.

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From: Derek K. Miller (Jul 04 2009, at 15:11)

The worst bit with garter snakes isn't if they bite you; it's if they pee on you. As I discovered working as a park naturalist (where I met my wife) in 1988.

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From: Derek K. Miller (Jul 05 2009, at 00:31)

Oh, and for dr2chase's info, there's almost nothing seriously venomous around here. In the desert areas of the B.C. Interior, you might find rattlesnakes and some venomous spiders, but out here on the coast the worst you'll encounter are the usual bees and wasps, plus Devil's club plants and other poison-ivy-ish things, and (in the ocean) brown sea nettle jellyfish, which will each give you nothing more than a nasty rash.

Out in the forest, just don't eat any mushrooms you're not absolutely sure about.

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