I’m Outta Here… Again.

Geez, I just looked at the calendar and realized that it’s the week before Labor Day weekend. What with the lousy, rainy weather this summer, I had lost track of how little time we have left before fall’s bright colors appear. Uh, that would be the orange of hunters’ clothing as they tramp around my posted land, trying to look like trees and bushes.

Well, before we’re swarmed with out-of-staters, I think I’ll take Daughter and go bother some of them in their native habitats to the south of us. I’ll go south next week when everyone is heading north to their Maine destinations. Then, on Labor Day weekend, when they’re all heading south, I’ll come back to Maine. This gives Daughter and I something to snicker at when we’re sailing through the Gardiner tollbooths and the line on the other side is stretching back to Boston. We’re easily amused.

Of course, soon, all the people we snickered at will be laughing at the Mainers who are snowed in while they’re walking around in sweaters in October, but there’s always something.

I’ll be back when the money runs out, as my sainted father used to say when he went grocery shopping.



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If You Took All the Reticulated Pythons in Maine and Laid Them End to End…

Okay, why is this happening? In the space of a week, two 9′ long reticulated pythons were found in different parts of Maine. One was in a washer in Southern Maine. One was found a few days later under a truck in Central Maine. What in the Sam Hill is going on here?

Reticulated Pythons are NOT indigenous to Maine. Heck, they’re not even indigenous to the US, although they’re turning up in Florida the way tornadoes are turning up in NH this summer. Some experts estimate that there are upward of 30,000 in Florida, with a concentration in the Everglades. That sounds really scary to me. I mean, alligators are bad enough, but these are snakes that can swallow a cow.

Last time I looked -I believe it was when swimsuit season started – I was about the size of a smallish Holstein. This is scary stuff, folks. I mean, there aren’t even supposed to be any poisonous snakes in Maine, so we Mainers have been lulled into a false sense of security vis-a-vis giant snakes.

I’m not afraid of snakes on the whole. I grew up in RI where the only bothersome snakes were water moccasins which can deliver a painful bite and a small dose of poison. If you’re past the toddler stage, you have little to fear from a water moccasin. Oh sure, once in a long while an Eastern Diamondback or Timber Rattler slithered over the border from CT, but they were few and far between and we didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about them while we were blueberrying or camping in the woods.

I never thought about snakes at all, until I moved to Texas when I was in my twenties. I shared a cinder block house with two other women who seemed to be out most of the time. They were also slobs, so I was the one who usually brought the trash out to the small one-car garage where we stored it until we put it out at the curb on trash day.

One day, after one of my roommates had regaled us with a particularly blood-curdling story about a man who got bitten by a rattler in his carport, I chanced to take the garbage out to the garage. The bag was heavy and the trash can was full, so I kind of balanced it on the other bags in the can and headed for the door. That’s when I heard the snake.

Anyone who has ever heard a heavy snake slither over a concrete floor is familiar with the sound I heard. It was so patently the sound of scales scraping over rough concrete that I froze in my tracks. The sound was between me and the door. The only other door – the overhead one – didn’t go up unless you hit the switch that was also on the other side of the sound. I was trapped.

I thought of all the movies I’d seen where an unsuspecting victim got struck by a lightning fast rattlesnake’s fangs and wished I didn’t have quite so vivid an imagination. I also wished that I’d stayed in New England where snakes had the decency to hibernate in the colder months. This was December, but this rattlesnake evidently had no regard for seasons. It was slithering around with wild abandon in spite of the 50-ish temperatures.

As quietly as I could, I inched over toward the door, hoping that the snake wouldn’t hear me. I couldn’t remember if snakes have acute hearing or lousy hearing. I was kicking myself for not paying more attention to those Nature Specials on PBS. Just as I inched another inch closer, the slithering sound came again. I froze.

It was a long night. I inched. The slithery sound came again. It seemed almost as if it was choreographed for heaven’s sake. Every time I moved, the sound followed. In spite of my fear, I was getting really p.o.’d and ready to make a dash for it. Finally, that’s exactly what I did.

I reached the door and just as I did, there was a giant slithery sound, as if a bag of sand had been tipped upside down and emptied into a trash bag. Suddenly, I realized that this is exactly what had happened. The slithery sound I’d been hearing all along was cat litter sliding down inside the trash bag I’d deposited in the can. My snake was kitty litter.

Luckily, no one had witnessed the ignominious scenario in the garage. My roommates hadn’t returned when I went back into the house and I never told them about my “rattlesnake” incident. I think about it though whenever I hear about a giant snake. I wonder if the snake is real or just so much cat litter. In the case of the reticulated pythons, they’re real.

I am not encouraged by the fact that reticulated pythons lay over 100 eggs. I AM encouraged by the fact that the eggs and the young are fodder for many animals including hawks, eagles, larger carnivores and monitor lizards. (We don’t have monitor lizards in Maine, but what with Global Warming, I’m sure that will change over time.)

If, Gentle Reader, you have a reticulated python that has gotten a little too big for comfort, please deliver it to a zoo and not to Maine. Maine is not a good habitat for reticulated pythons, no matter what you’ve heard on the ‘Net. Maine IS a good place for moose if your moose has gotten too big for your backyard, which can happen to anyone.

In closing, I’d like to recommend that people stop buying snakes to impress other people. Use your brains, folks. Large snakes get larger and then where are you? You have to sleep sometime and they’re really good at getting the top off their cage. Leave the pythons and boas and anacondas where they belong and adopt a local garter snake or make toad houses in your garden. Trust me, it’s a lot easier on the ol’ nerves and the environment too.

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Cloudy With a Chance of Pigs

One of the wonderful things about living in this hellhole lovely state of Maine is that we hardly ever get the extreme weather so prevalent in the rest of the US. Hurricanes we got, but they give us plenty of warning and by the time they’ve navigated the whole length of the Eastern seaboard they’re usually pretty pooped out. Even if they aren’t, we’ve had time to board up the windows, take in the chickens and buy every roll of toilet paper and loaf of bread on the shelves of every convenience store in the state. (Why do people do that when a storm is predicted? Do they think they’ll need more toilet paper? I don’t get the connection, myself.)

Anyhow, outside of the occasional hurricane and a blizzard or two in the winter, extreme weather leaves us alone and concentrates on the population centers of the midwest and south where it can really get itself on CNN and the Weather Channel. The only time we see Jim Cantore is when he’s standing in front of Maine on the weather map and pointing to California or New York. All of the weather mavens seem to be just tall enough to obscure Maine with their heads. Why is this?

I guess I should say that extreme weather HAS left us alone in the past, because apparently it’s just realized that we’re here and is starting to flex its muscles with a few preliminary mini-tornadoes. (We had one a while ago that tipped over a bike and damaged our neighbor’s garden shed. True, the shed was one of those cheap metal ones that shakes when you blow on your soup to cool it off, but still.) No doubt, it’ll find out that working up to a real tornado isn’t as easy in mountainous Maine as it is on the plains of Kansas, but it’s giving it a shot.

Yesterday’s Bangor Daily News reported on one such incident up in Aroostook County. I read it and knew that I had a blog post. It seems that there was a sudden windstorm, with hail, that blew in a straight line through the Happy Corner Rd community. Residents there said that the storm emerged from Baxter State Park via the north side of Mount Katahdin. Unlike most Baxter Park tourists, it didn’t just toss a beer can in the ditch as it left, but instead let loose with a barrage of hail, thunder and lightning. Then the wind picked up. Literally.

It picked up two 150 lb pigs and a 50 lb Gordon Setter. The paper doesn’t say whether the pigs survived, but the dog managed to run back to its owner, after “swimming through the air” two-and-a-half feet off the ground for 50 to 60 ft. The dog’s name is Delaney, rather than Toto, by the way.

The dog owner, Sean Kelley, says it was “a tense 15 to 20 minutes” as the storm concentrated all of its energy on the small area of Happy Corner Rd (wonder if they’ll rename it?). “Delaney got blown through the air; plus, this was true – pigs could fly,” he said. Not content with juggling next fall’s bacon and hams, the storm also destroyed gardens and reduced Kelley’s pumpkin crop to green goo.

The forecast for our area today is for thunderstorms, possibly severe. I’m in the cellar, because that’s where my office is. The dog is lying on the couch and the cats are upstairs in varying postures of laziness after being out all night dodging the coyotes we heard howling in the backyard around midnight. Two of them are suspiciously rounder than usual which leads me to think that a couple of rabbits don’t have to worry about tornadoes picking them up anymore.

We don’t have a pig to our name or any other livestock, so the only thing we have to remember to bring in before long is the deck furniture. Our garden doesn’t include pumpkins, but we do have some small tomatoes that wouldn’t survive a hailstorm, so I hope we don’t have a “Happy Corner Rd” experience. I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and if there was anything you said you’d do “when pigs fly”, you’d better do it.

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Posted in humor, Maine, Uncategorized | 2 Comments