Last January’s mountain lion attack in Whiting has made a trail system once notorious for the necessity of dodging the aluminum locusts into a peaceful place. In my two hour walk today, I saw three trail bikers and a runner. The adverse publicity has been a good thing for solitude.
I did see threatening wildlife: a skunk nosing about in the drying rye and a baby rattlesnake. I stopped to watch the skunk for several minutes as she shoved her nose through the grass, searching for delectables such as the convergently evolved bombadier beetle, grubs, and maybe a lizard. We made a pact: neither would get within twenty feet of the other. The skunk did not stamp her feet or raise her tail. Together we enjoyed the shade of the live oaks near the intersection of the Whiting Road and the Serrano Cow Trail until I pressed on.
The snake was no more than twelve inches long and possessed only a single rattle. I saw it from five feet away and just stopped. It slithered across the trail, leaving a smoothed track. It’s pale russet diamonds caught the sun. A blue-black tongue led the way as it moved off the trail into the grass.
Like Maria of alembic, I discount these sightings as omens. But I report them to you in the spirit of delight. The terrorists in the Middle East, in our government, and in our media shall not rob me of my joy in seeing these animals or the rabbit and bobcat tracks that I saw in the sand.