Mountain Musings


Snake in the Grass


It never fails – every year around this time, rattlesnakes start popping out of their underground dens and begin slithering, with reckless abandon, around the forest floor in search of small prey and humans brandishing weed eaters.


While running my weed eater a few years ago, I snagged one of those slimy serpents (I realize they’re not actually slimy; I just like to malign their character) when it got caught up in the trimline of my weed whacker and spun it around until a piece of its head went flying right past my ear… pretty scary, eh?


“Beautiful morning down by the river. Without a warning, who’d ever guess you’d come across a snake in the grass. Every day now you take a walk here and what do you say now, if you should meet an evil-minded snake in the grass? Stop and watch where you’re putting your feet, my sweet, I don’t want to do anything bad, but you make me mad and I might bite your face, your neck, your arms.” (“Snake In The Grass” – Elton John – 1994)


Weed whacking is a yearly ritual that I’ve been honing my skills on for some 45 years now, and I think I’ve finally gotten it down to a science. Let me share some of what I’ve learned over the years.


Efficient weed whacking begins in early spring with prepping the area before the weeds grow high by removing all the dead limbs, branches, pinecones and other debris that has accumulated during the winter, which tends to get in the way and slows you down.


Early spring is also important because it’s before the rattlesnakes come out of hibernation, and you don’t want to be bending down, picking up stuff when these deadly serpents are slithering about. If your weed whacker doesn’t start up right away, you might try changing out last year’s fuel and cleaning the air filter. And, while you’re at it, check out the spark plug as well.


Now that you’re ready to begin whacking away, don’t forget your goggles or some good wrap-around dark glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris. Also essential are some thick pants and heavy-duty boots, just in case you encounter any of those deadly serpents.


And, just a reminder, for dog owners, Double Dog Ranch at the end of Dart Canyon Road is holding its annual rattlesnake avoidance class on Saturday, May 15. But hurry and register your pooch before it’s too late. Check their website for details.


“I’m a snake in the grass, oh, a snake in the grass, looking around you you’ll never see me, you’ll get a surprise should you get entangled with a snake in the grass. Under my thick skin, I can get lonely. Please can I come in and end my sad existence as a snake in the grass?”


Keep it flyin’ Uncle Mott