Greetings from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's been perfect weather here. Mid-70's in the daytime, only spotty cloud cover, light breeze. The Gnu Herd rolled into town over the weekend and since we got here, the plan for the week is simple: zilch. No plan is a good plan. The cottage has an internet connection, so I can send a few postcards across the cyber-sea.
The Skating Gnu and I took a short trip by ourselves to the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla while Mrs. Gnu stayed at the cottage and rested. We hiked to the top, looked all around, then took a short hike around the grounds to the old schoolhouse and historic village.
And made a somewhat dangerous friend:
photo copyright 2007, The Smoking Gnu
Yep. That's a Cottonmouth, or Water Moccassin. One of several poisonous species of snakes found in the Coastal Plains and Piedmont. We stumbled upon it sunning in the road on our way back from the village. It's a good thing the Missus wasn't with us: she would have freaked. My daughter, on the other hand, wanted to adopt it. She even named it: say hello to Connie, the Cottonmouth.
They say kids learn fear from their parents. I have gone out of my way to instill a fascination for all life - tempered with a healthy respect for living creatures - in her from an early age. I was raised on a farm and I spent much of my youth catching critters, from praying mantises to snapping turtles, and even the odd groundhog and injured squirrel. I even caught a rabbit with my bare hands one time, but that's a story for another day.
She is just as fascinated with wildlife as I am, completely the opposite of her mother who cringes at the mere thought of a cricket chirping. We stood there, each party sizing the other up, the snake probably scared to death, we on the other hand, completely mesmerized by its natural beauty. A perfect opportunity to teach my daughter what a poisonous reptile looks like in real life, how it's important to nature, and why it should be respected, and after a few pictures (using a telephoto lens - hey, I'm crazy, but not stupid!) we parted ways, everyone happy.
Oh, in case you were wondering, I was right. My wife freaked. The pictures were proof positive to her that we had completely lost our minds and would both wind up in the hospital before the year ended.
City girl. But I love her still.