Since starting my hike in Georgia, I’ve gotten used to scanning the ground for snakes. I’ve seen snakes in the trail, snakes under logs, and snakes on rocks. Here in Virginia, I experienced a new one, a snake in a tree.
I was hiking down the trail and stopped to chat with someone coming from the other direction. They told me that there was a six foot long snake in a tree overhanging the trail about 1/4 mile ahead. He told me that I’d know that I was in the right spot because all of the birds near there were flipping out.
I kept hiking and listening to the birds. What do birds sound like when they’re flipping out? I wasn’t sure, so whenever I head an unusual birdsong I’d stop and listen, trying to ascertain if it was the special song of a bird flipping out.
About 1/2 a mile down the trail I suddenly found the spot where the birds were flipping out. There were five or six birds that were jumping from branch to branch and making loud clicking/trilling noises incessantly. I watched the birds jumping around for a minute… It was fascinating.
I scanned the tree branches for the snake and didn’t see anything. I stepped back a pace and looked again. Sure enough, the snake was there. It was on the branch that had been hanging directly over my head, with it’s head draped down so that it could watch me. The ripples of its body covered what looked to me to be about five feet along the tree branch.
I was reminded of the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The snake dangling from the tree and offering the fruit of knowledge. I walked by the snake and left it dangling in its tree… Thinking about the promise and allure of the career that I’d left dangling back at home when I decided to leave and walk this walk.
On such a gorgeous day it was easy to appreciate the detours that had brought me to this point in the trail, and to this point in my life.