by Shawna Black

Our house and property back up to wetlands. This means lots of trees, brush, wild ferns, vines of all sorts and a swamp. This also means we have a variety of critters that live in our back yard. So far, we've seen rabbits, squirrels, all variety of birds (my son Riley can name most of them), frogs, toads, mosquitoes (bastards), and our favorite visitor last summer, a snake. I described the snake to the neighbor man who mowed our lawn before we bought our own lawn mower and asked him if this was a good snake or a bad snake. He laughed and said, "The only good snake is a dead snake" and suggested that we go buy a bush ax. I think I'll take his advice. Snakes are the evil spawn of the devil, right after Bill Gates. Riley says the snake in our yard was all black with a triangle shaped head. A triangle-shaped head on a snake is not a good thing. Hmmm. I never did get that bush ax. Maybe this summer I should seriously consider the bush ax investment, especially after the “alligators in the wetlands in the backyard” dream I had a few weeks ago.

Shortly after we had our first encounter with the snake, I saw Jesse, our neighbor across the street, running around our yard with a shovel. Jake, Riley and I promptly investigated (Daddy and Kaiya were taking a nap). Seems that Jesse saw something in our front yard being attacked by three birds and supposed the only thing it could be was a snake. The four of us searched the yard, looking everywhere for Mr. Snake but couldn't locate him. Jesse then engaged in conversation with our neighbor, Lyle, while the kids and I went back inside. A few minutes later, Jake yelled, "Snake! There it is!" And there it was, right outside our front door. I ran outside, using the side door as my exit, to tell Jesse we found the snake. He launched that shovel in the air, let it fall and with one good whack Mr. Snake lost his head. Well, almost lost his head. Mr. Snake's head was approximately 3/4 severed. Turns out Mr. Snake was a harmless black snake and didn’t have the triangle-shaped head that we feared.. But, like Jim said, the only good snake is a dead snake! And so ended our snake adventures.

After our exciting snake escapade, I promptly forgot about Mr. Snake. Or so I thought. Apparently, Mr. Snake had worked his way into my sub-conscience and left his mark. A few days after the snake adventure, I had the most bazaar dream. About a month prior to our snake fun, the boys and I went to Lowe’s Home Improvement and bought a couple of tomato bushes. We brought them home and planted them in the back yard. They'd been growing there, in the back yard, ever since....

Except on the night of my dream the tomato bushes had moved. They were now in the front yard. In my dream, I was walking around the yard when I happened upon my tomato plants, which used to be in the back yard but were now in the front yard. Upon closer examination, I noticed that one of them didn't appear very healthy. I reached down, tugged a little on the small stock and the whole thing came up out of the ground without much effort. My first thought was that Mr. Rabbit, which I happened to see in the back yard a day earlier, had tunneled his way to my tomato bush and had eaten it's roots. I pushed gently around the area where the tomato bush had been growing and a tunnel in the ground opened up before my eyes; as I watched, the hole got bigger and bigger. Suddenly, I was looking down into a snake pit that extended the length and width of our entire property. As I was examining this unbelievable pit, a rock had dropped down into it and a few of the snakes looked up at me and hissed....

This is where the dream ended. Thank God. But how strange is our sub-conscience? I will admit that I don't like snakes any better than the next girl, but I certainly didn't dwell on Mr. Snake. He was fun to talk about and made for an interesting story, but that's where the interest stopped...or so I thought until I had that dream.

This story has very little to do with my pictures featured here today, other than the fact that I love the outdoors and sometimes you find really cool stuff like trees that look naked, or sometimes you find snakes. I shot this tree last Friday when I was at a co-worker’s house doing a photo shoot for an ad. While I waiting for my art director to set up the shot, I discovered this really neat tree. It looked naked. So I took a few shots.

Thank God there were no snakes in the tree.




Shawna does not want any motherfucking snakes in her motherfucking tree.



I like snakes.


And here I thought you were being colloquial.

Love that last shot. Cool details and angles.


Snakes are great! Spiders, on the other hand, can all feel the wrath of my size 12 boots.


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