Wild Goose Chase

I had to travel to the city the other day. Spending time in close proximity to more than a million people is not a pleasant way to pass the hours.

Fortunately I finished my to-do list early. With time to spare I headed to the river that finds its way through this metropolis. I was in search of Canada geese who nest on the islands and sandbars in the river. Would goslings be out?

As I walked across the grass to the riverbank I glanced down. What I saw brought me to an abrupt stop. I’d almost stepped on a very large garter snake, at least as long as my arm. Its camouflaged body lay in lazy loops on the grass, its head raised, alert and focussed.

A snake in the gass

Why it didn’t immediately slither away to safety I don’t know. With lidless eyes that never close, how do you know whether a snake is sleeping or not?

I began taking photos, crouching down for a better angle. Still no acknowledgement from the snake that I was there. After a few moments I moved around for a better angle.

Just then a thin red tongue flicked in and out, tasting the air. The head lowered and coiled back alongside its body. Ah, we’re awake now!

Awake now

More moments passed. Neither of us moved. Then, with a slow, deliberate, sinuous rhythm the snake slid toward a nearby spruce tree and disappeared among the cones and needles and dry grass.

I remained where I was but caught no further sight of the snake. As for the geese? That will wait for another day. 🙂


Wandering garter snake   Thamnophis elegans