I am recently returned from Colorado Springs, where my heart lives when it is not in Cocoa Beach or DC or Cincinnati or any number of places I am currently not because science does not have its priorities straight and is concentrating on stupid crap like working on cures for childhood diseases instead of making it possible for me to quadlocate so I can be four places at once and therefore happy. (If you want to know what happens should you leave Ohio—it’s that. You will never be happy, never again. You always want to be in the other places you’ve lived, and when you’re in the other places you’ve lived you want to be in Ohio. So, if you have a one-way ticket out of the only place you've ever known… just cancel it. Throw a bunch of sand on the back patio next to a wading pool and call it San Diego if you must.)
What I like to do in Colorado Springs is walk around staring at all the pretty trees and flowers, which is a challenge because I have a wretched sense of direction, and walking trails in Colorado Springs tend to not proceed in a sensible concrete loop as they do in the Midwest. Apparently sometimes there are mountains and giant rocks in the way. So to walk commands a tremendous amount of time, pre-planning, maps, screen caps, consultations with National Geographic, and preliminary phone calls to forest rangers.
On this particular walk I was feeling immensely proud of myself, as I had stomped my way through the Garden of the Gods without managing to leave the state and after only four failed attempts to launch on the walk (once because I couldn’t find the trailhead, which was ten yards from my car, and had to ask directions; once because I thought I forgot my phone and went back to my car and it wasn’t there because it was actually in my backpack after all; and twice because finding the trailhead and rediscovering the phone took a while and I had to pee.) On my last turn back to the car, I saw three teenagers standing motionless, staring at the ground.
As is pretty much the natural state of teenagers, I stepped around them, but one of them called out, “Wait. There’s a snake up ahead.”
There was a snake up ahead. I couldn’t tell what color it was, other than what zoologists technically term “kind of greenish,” and it wasn’t going anywhere, and it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Once I served a writing residency in the Everglades, and there were many alligators, and once a scary animal decides it’s going to be somewhere, such as between my front door and my car, that is where it’s going to be for exactly as long as it wants to.
It was decided that the snake was probably not dangerous, because it did not look, quote, “like the ones on Discovery Channel,” so one of the teenage boys made the executive decision to hurl a pebble in its direction, I suppose to send a sophisticated message that would cross interspecies lines (“HEY WE’RE HUMANS AND WE’RE REALLY ANNOYING.”) The snake fixed itself a martini and settled in.
The other teenage boy decided to escalate the issue to the snake’s supervisor, and found themselves a stick. The other two teenagers helped by pointing their camera phones at him. I was long past the point of when I should have found another route back to my car, because, like a passenger on a flight that’s been delayed eight times across two days, I was in this for the duration. Also I had to carry word back to the survivors.
The teenager shoved the stick in the general direction of the snake. The snake moved and so did we all, especially the kid with the stick, who shot past us in the opposite direction, saying, “I hear rattling.”
As this officially consigned the snake as A Big Pile of Nope, I turned around to undertake the impossible task of finding a redirected route. Which I did. All by myself. Like a big girl. And I made it not only back to my car, but back to Ohio, where things mostly make sense and are mostly happy and mostly in a concrete circle.
And that is what makes my snake story awesome.