It’s late spring/early summer in the Northern Hemisphere which means snakes and other reptiles are once again active. This past week, I had multiple encounters with beautiful snakes in my sister’s yard here in North Carolina where I’m visiting. Of course, I do realize not everyone shares my love of nature, nor my fascination with snakes. Some of you are surely cringing right now at the mere thought of being greeted by a snake outside your door, especially a surprise visit because you had forgotten to be aware of them.
My sisters and I agree (as snake experts recommend) with letting the harmless snakes, such as the Black Racer, have free reign outside because they control rodent populations and actually keep poisonous snakes away from the house. I have some friends who say the only good snake is a dead snake. However, I think those feelings are a result of not fully understanding how snakes fit into the ecosystem.
Try as I might to limit my exposure to too much negativity, on most days I’m a dedicated news junkie. However, sometimes all the buzz and spin become so overwhelming that I have to unplug for a few days. Such was the situation this past week.
I’ve been visiting long-time friends in Seattle for the past two weeks and I managed to escape the city for some much needed serenity in the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors.
I had two experiences that I’m featuring here in video format. In the first, I was lectured by a Douglas Squirrel as he peered down at me from above. In the other, I was transported to a serene world where the only sound was rushing water tumbling over smooth rocks created millions of years ago.
Experiencing spring in one of the world’s temperate zones for the first time in 14 years excites my senses in similar fashion to the way artist Vincent Van Gogh must have felt upon moving from Paris to the colorful countryside of Arles in southern France in 1888. Van Gogh had found Paris to be dull and gray just as Brussels had been, and he longed to be in a place that was warm and colorful.
Colour expresses something in itself. One can’t do without it; one must make use of it. What looks beautiful, really beautiful — is also right.
Vincent to his brother Theo, c. 28 October 1885
Field with Irises near Arles 1888. Courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
While I’ve had the good fortune to live in a variety of the world’s tropical regions that would have surely delighted Van Gogh’s senses, I’d forgotten how spectacularly beautiful temperate landscapes can be as they emerge from a long, cold winter’s sleep. The myriad shades of green and red budding deciduous trees, along with furiously blooming everything, make me feel like a child seeing the natural world for the first time.