This almost belongs in the Manual series, but for the fact that I didn’t write it. The text, and the object to which it refers, came from the pen and knitting needles of Rachel Rawlins, and you can see both at twisted rib. While there, you can click on the conversari tag and browse her half of our on-going, inter-blog conversation in words and images, originating in more quotidian exchanges via email, IM, etc.: one of those sprawling conversations that just keeps sprouting new, sometimes grotesque branches and digressions, grows ever more firmly rooted, and seems as if it might go on forever.
I shot the footage of the garter snake ball yesterday morning, while rushing back and forth between the houses to bake bread. (A mention made it into the Morning Porch, whence, curiously, Luisa also derived the image of a heart.) I felt I had to make the film fairly abstract, since I already made a videopoem with more straight-forward footage of a garter snake mating ball two years ago. On that occasion, I also uploaded an 8-minute video of the orgy. This time, I grabbed my regular camera and managed to get one half-decent still photo:
It was a thing of beauty, albeit hair-raising as always. Incidentally, I’ve probably said this before, but our robust garter snake population in Plummer’s Hollow is, I think, a direct consequence of our decision to stop mowing the lawns. If you like reptiles and amphibians and want to encourage them around your own home, the best thing you can do is transition to a less-managed landscape. Call it Daoist gardening if you like.
Garter snakes usually form mating balls immediately after emergence from hibernation in spring, but sometimes they mate in the fall, too. The great American poet Stanley Kunitz wrote about encountering one such coupling — “that wild braid” — in his iconic poem “The Snakes of September.”