Yesterday, James decided to work on a project for one of his favorite hobbies: weapon making. He wanted to remount two spearheads onto shafts (broom handles from the hardware store). This meant a trip to our basement...and the use of power tools. Odd as this may sound, I trust my husband to take better care with sharp objects like swords, daggers and spears than I do when he works with tools, particularly hammers and screwdrivers. He's never actually hurt himself with drills or grinders but there's always a first time! I went down with him to fetch and carry anything he needed.
While we were downstairs, I decided to clean the vines off the house. Our house is built on a slope, so the original driveway led to the garage around the back of the house. Thus, the basement is not really below ground and I was mere feet from James if he needed anything. I like climbing vines, but these clog the gutters and pull the screens away from our windows. So a few times every summer I have to pull them away from the bricks. This isn't hard, and the vines never seem to reattach to the house. Some places it does get interesting, as the other foliage is thick on the ground. I've seen enough wildlife to know that I tread carefully in patches like this: This window is in the finished room in the basement that James uses as his dojo. On the way to the workbench, I noticed the vines growing inside the window. That's what prompted me into action. But surprise! There was also wildlife. I saw one, at first, between the screen and the window that had been invaded by the vine. When I brought James back to see, we realized there were at least three snakes there. We removed two, checking their tails to make sure they weren't the anti-freeze green of juvenile copperheads. Once James finished his spear-making, I did my usual research to discover that these tiny creatures, maybe 10-12 inches long (that's a leaf in the picture for comparison's sake), were full grown brown snakes. They're usually a burrowing species that lives on soft-bodied creatures like slugs and earthworms, but they probably followed their prey above ground during the recent rain. I'm amazed at their strength if they climbed the thin vines to get to the windowsill. It is also possible we interrupted breeding, since two of them were nestled into the groove of the window together.
James says he's glad he didn't know about them during his workout in the morning. I will also gladly admit that I didn't pull anymore vines down. Neither of us is afraid of snakes--he sees them all the time at work, particularly wild ones, and I've worked hands-on with dozens. Besides, we've found snakes in the yard before, usually when the lawn is being mowed. Nevertheless, we don't want them underfoot or wandering in our house where they might become cat bait.