Before winter settles in, we'll have several cold snaps. The temperature will drop into the low 40s at night with lovely, low humidity days no warmer than 70. This weather pattern causes the leaves to change into vibrant colors and sends people and critters scampering for food, firewood and a warm place to hang out. All-in-all, a welcome and positive event. Except...
Meet Duke. We met one morning about two weeks ago when I was doing laundry. It was early and I was going through the motions without really focusing on the here and now, but couldn't shake the feeling of being watched. Directing my gaze above the washer and dryer, I see it, a snake face staring at me with a rather quizzical look, as if saying, "Hey, this is a warm, dry place. Can I hang out here?"
Much to my surprise, I didn't throw my hands up in the air and run screaming from the room. I started talking. To the snake. Out loud. In complete sentences. Posing direct questions is if the snake possessed the power of speech. It went something like this:
Me: Good morning. How are doing Mr. Snake?
Me: You're quite clever to have found a way into the basement. Is there more of you or just a head?
Me: Of course there's more of you. About how much, would you say?
Me: So, I'm just gonna do a little laundry over here and how about you stay over there and everything will be copacetic. Okay?
I took that last [blink] as a yes and went about my merry way doing chores. When it was time to put the clothes in the dryer, Mr. Snake was gone and I thought that was the end of that. Except...
He liked the hospitality so much, he came back and has taken up residence on the ledge above the dryer, unless he's stretched out on top of the masonry wall under the floor joists (okay, I have obviously watched too much HGTV).
I'm still not particularly concerned about Mr. Snake hanging out in the basement. He's non-poisonous and best I can tell, a King Snake. He comes in at night when it's cold and goes out in the morning after it warms up and does, you know, snake things. Since mice like to hang out in the basement too, it seems like a pretty good deal. Mr. Snake gets a place to chill and the mouse population is kept at bay. Except...
After two weeks of this amicable living arrangement, Duke is beginning to act like an ungrateful teenager. He sleeps till late afternoon, sits and stares for a while and then goes out about 5:00. I don't see him again till the next morning and he doesn't call to let me know he's sleeping over at a friend's house. Really...after all I've done for him!
There's one more thing. I'm not the only person who goes in the basement. There's the lady who cleans on Mondays and volunteers come and go on a regular basis. It occurred to me they may not be as calm about Duke as I am. So today, I outed Duke to the cleaning lady and she was like, "There's NO WAY I'm going down there and doing laundry with a snake!"
Okay, so now I have to do something about Duke. Which is kind of a shame seeing as he's such a good conversationalist.