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A garter snake ventured onto the track one morning at the school near our house. I was one of five runners. I stopped and looked: he was checkered. I tried to shoo him back onto the football field where he had come from, thinking he should avoid the people on the track, but he refused. When I tried to insist, he coiled stubbornly. So I gave up and ran on.
Then I got worried. People are funny about snakes, even little checkered garter snakes. So I doubled back and took up a position near him, stretching. One by one, people came by, and as each approached I said, “This is just a garter snake. He isn’t harmful.”
Of the four walkers and runners, not one looked at the snake. They were friendly to me. One even thanked me for letting her know. She seemed to think I was doing it for them. They all gave the snake a wide, wide berth, averting their eyes. They expressed by their words, actions and posture their fear and loathing of this 15-inch reptile, who was so determined to reach the long grass on the far side of the asphalt.
When everyone had passed, I moved on, and after a few minutes, so did the snake. Ahead of me, as I rounded the next lap, I saw the other four people shying toward the inside lanes. As I approached, I saw the snake slip off the edge of the track. Then he was gone, safe for the moment. But soon the long grass will be mowed.
From A Field Guide to Texas Snakes
by Alan Tennant
Gulf Publishing Company
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