August is upon us and the smoke from the Wolverine Fire across Lake Chelan comes and goes in the upper Methow Valley with the prevailing winds. Farther south it is generally more persistent, and one friend reported ash falling in her yard in Twisp. One big question is whether it will jump the lake to this side and begin a new conflagration. It’s not all that many miles away.
Otherwise, our daily ration of hot, hot temperatures remains. This morning the smoke cloud is overhead here, the sun is obliterated, and hence there is a welcome cooling effect with a brisk wind from the south to aid in perspiration removal.
There has been a lot of chat and news about rattlesnakes lately. Whether this reptilian presence is any more than in years past is questionable, although one theory — that they are seeking water in this overheated and drought-ridden summer because the customary watering places are dry — certainly has credibility. It’s understandable that up Lost River way there was one underneath a home owner’s garage overhang, but more surprising that there was also one on a deck in Edelweiss.
One could argue against killing them when they are encountered. They do their share of rodent reduction, but having one in the yard can influence a person to consider the danger to dogs, little children and adults as well: The threat is real. As someone who once considered a life in herpetology, I have felt guilty when I dispatched one. We have not had a sighting in a couple of years, although Ms. Gloria is quite certain she saw one slithering away as she was working in her garden last week.
The most interesting encounter we had was one day, years ago, when I was watching golf on television. Gloria came into the house and announced that there was a rattlesnake in our greenhouse. I asked her how big it was, and she felt it was not too large, so I urged here to stay away from there and I’d come out during the commercial break.
And I did so. Entering the greenhouse cautiously, I asked her where the snake was. And she pointed: “Over there.” I did not see it and said so, and her reply was, it was in the tire. I sidled over to a car tire and there was this creature in a double wrap around the inside of the tire lying on its side.
The tire was for a 15-inch wheel and the snake was around the inside twice but for the tail, which was not rattling. Anyhow, doing the math I came up with about 30 inches. With rake and shovel, it was removed from the tire and dealt with quickly. And I felt guilty.
But speaking of snakes and water, we have an increase in garter snakes this season. There are four that swim around in the pond, which is itself becoming shallower. The most visible two are one that is bright yellow and the other a subtle blue-green. Then there are two little ones, barely colored. Unfortunately perhaps, these could become a rattlesnake meal, and alas, it might include within the garter snake a precious tiny tree frog, whose numbers have been diminishing annually.
Word from Paul Christen is that he’s graded the road to Harts Pass, which has been an avenger of car tires for some time. Many people will appreciate the effort, and let’s hope it holds.
And if you have not heard, the state tax on gasoline is up by 7 cents per gallon as of Aug. 1.