After our grandson... and his dad... and his grandpa found a baby rattler under the water container, across the driveway, last Saturday morning... he still wanted to go for a hike with me up the dirt road to the old orchard.
I'm thinking that a very big rattlesnake momma was waiting somewhere and that she might be a bit angry that we took her baby, in a bucket, to the river and dumped it there. So I wasn't very excited about walking to the orchard. But, I didn't want to look like Squeekie, our banty hen, who is always running scared from the big
... I mean hens and running away from their bully attitudes... so I sucked up my "Maybe there's another BIG one out there." thoughts and said "OK!"
Before we left, Little Bean told me that we might want to bring a big stick.
I asked him what the stick was for and he said, "So YOU can pick the snakes up and put them somewhere else. So you can flick them away, Noni."
I thought about this for a while. I'm not afraid of snakes but... the prospector and Bean's daddy were gone and I had just said "OK!" It might have looked like I was reneging on my "OK!" I didn't want Little Bean to think that his Noni wasn't up to braving a walk through snake infested grass.
So I found a stick in the garage that was quite long and had a hook on one end.
He also brought a huge hook (I'm not sure what for... maybe, like a fish hook, only for snakes?) and some binoculars.
Off we went...We were ready for anything.
I put on my distance glasses (yes, I have two pairs now.) and I showed little bean how to hit the wood pile, the car wheels, the panning table and all the places that momma snake ( I mean any snake.) could be hiding. I showed him how to do this out in front, as he walked, so the snakes had a chance to retreat gracefully before we were nose to nose with them.
We got past the hiding places, out onto the dirt path and started up the road to the well, where I use to walk with abandon a month ago before Summer so inconveniently arrived. Now we would not be hiking to the top of the hill (my favorite hike). Now, the grass and snakes would limit access to most of the areas that I love walking thru. We took the lower road.
About six weeks ago the grass was only shoe high (below) and you could see the ground through the grass.
This was before a big rain storm and more sunshine. It was still very cold at night and the days were in the low 70s. I laid, in the grass, and took this photo of a spider's nest.
I would not do this now. The grass is turning brown and, although the road is fairly clear up to a point, the upper road is dry and deep with grass. Perfect snake habitat.
The snakes started coming out a few weeks ago... remember? First the Racer in the garden and then the big Gopher snake near the back porch. And now, the little Rattlesnake... so...
We intrepid hiker's, Bean and I, chose to take the wider, clearer road past the well and down to the old orchard and our septic leach field.
Little Bean said that he wanted to, "Go to the place where the dog was buried."
I said, "You mean where Maggie is?" and he said, "Yes. "
So we did... well kind of. We couldn't walk up to her grave. The grass was too high so we said hi to Maggie from the road, then walked around the septic mound to the area that opens onto a wonderful knoll covered with wild Manzanita. I love this spot but, alas, we couldn't go into it because... yes... the grass was too high. So we returned to the trail and started back.
My youngest grandchild is a child of questions and verbal problem solving. He always asked many questions and then he trouble shoots and comes up with some really good answers, for his age. But mostly he like to talk though his ideas.
This series of photos was a discussion about Poison Oak and how the leaves are similar to the Oak trees leaves, but they're shinier and bigger and then... how Poison Oak doesn't grow into a tree.
I told him that it can climb up into a tree but it's not a tree. It's a shrub and a vine. That it only clings to the tree for support. He thought about it and decided that the poison oak must like the Oak trees because they have similar leaves. He also said, "It's red sometimes." He actually remembered what color it was the last time he stayed with us. "
It's easier to see then isn't it, Noni?"
"Yes, it is, Bean." I said.
"It's prettier too... but not as shiny." He notices these things.
I asked him what the differences were and he proceeded to give me a really good analysis on this plant during different times of the year... with Noni's help, of course. And all the while, she is taking pictures of all his gestures and facial expressions... and watching for snakes.
He finally asked the last question and just stood there... thinking.
He seemed satisfied that the poison oak issue had been thoroughly studied and analyzed.
I think he is going to be a world renowned Botanist when he grows up... or a politician.
We walked back down the hill to the house, tapping the stick, vigorously, when we walked by the truck wheels and the wood pile.
He decided that he would dig for gold until his Mom and brother arrived. They came a day later than Little Bean and Daddy because Big Bean had a baseball game.
I sat down in a chair and watched for snakes and he dug away at the hillside, looking for the elusive gold nuggets in the dirt.
He worked at this for quite a while. To his dismay, no large pieces of gold appeared.
He was getting hot and tired. This was a lesson in hard rock mining... hard work for very little return on the investment unless, of course, you dig 300 ft. straight down. There is a mine underneath us that is still down, there, but it's closed up. Some day we will have to open it and show the boys what's inside. It's dark and wet in there. You can't go very far into it anymore because we closed up the air shaft too. The folks that dug the mine were paying expenses with the gold it produced before WW2. The tunnel is still down there, so who knows... a nugget could fall out of the dirt into my grandson's little hands. I'm not quite sure how they know this, but 80% of the worlds gold is still in the ground... so I figure that there's still some, maybe a lot, underneath us. After all... it is the MOTHER LODE. We are on the Mother Lode.
If anyone will find that gold... it's my little Bean and his older brother.
Maybe they will be Geologists.
Then, all the activity stopped. Bean was looking up at the chicken coop. I thought he saw a snake or something, but no... He was just tired.
Little Bean finally said that he was getting tired of digging... so we went inside and cooled our heels.
He sat for quite a while. I thought he might be researching Poison Oak and similar plants but he wasn't. He was cleaning dirt out from under his toes and playing a video game on his... whatever you call it.
He never mentioned the Rattlesnake under the water trough and I didn't mention that they come in much bigger sizes.
We were safe, now, in our little house. No snakes allowed here.
Did you know that...
- In 1848, while building a saw mill for John Sutter near Sacramento, California,
John Marshal discovered flakes of gold. This discovery sparked the California
Gold Rush and hastened the settlement of the American West.c
Yep! That's just north of here. It's not really sitting in the water anymore, but it's out there.,, just waiting for someone to find it.