I met a snake on the way – sort of.

I had been wanting to clean up my rock garden and finally got around to it a few days ago – weeding, cutting overgrown grasses from hidden crevices, removing dried stalks from early spring flowers who now dream of another performance next year. When I moved a heavy garden ornament away from a tree trunk to clean up behind it, I caught my breath – a snake! But it wasn’t moving and I quickly realized that it was only the skin the snake left behind. I could just see it now wriggling itself out of an overly tight suit by rubbing against the rough texture of tree bark. I carefully pulled the paper-thin skin out from in between bark and grass. It broke into 3 pieces.

three pieces on railing

While gathering the skin, I had the odd experience of being watched. What if the snake was hiding nearby and saw me collect its skin? I almost felt as if I was doing something illegal, taking property that belonged to someone else.
Surely, the snake didn’t need it anymore, and was not going to squeeze back into her old suit!

snake skin in three pieces

Shedding one’s skin to move forward into a larger self – isn’t that what learning and growing is all about….
How many skins have I shed already and how have they been re-absorbed into the universal field, just like this fragile layer of skin cells would soon melt back into the soil and add its nutrients to the grasses and flowers growing nearby.

snake skin

Ted Andrews, in his book Animal-Speak, describes how different cultures viewed snakes as powerful agents of transformation. In ancient Greece, the snake symbolized alchemy and healing. In Hinduism, the god Vishnu sleeps on the serpent Ananta, symbol of eternity, while Shiva adorns himself with snake bracelets and necklaces, symbols of sexuality. Kundalini, or serpent energy, gets released from the base of the spine, fuels our creative fires and opens up greater levels of awareness. In Chinese astrology, the snake holds qualities of compassion, clairvoyance and charm and teaches lessons of forgiveness.

mid portion

Snakes are symbols of spiritual death and rebirth, holding the promise of growth, creativity and greater wisdom.

skin twisted

When I found the snake skin, I held it and examined it, sensing that it could tell me something about my own layering, my own need to shed what is no longer necessary, no longer fruitful in my life. There are resentments hiding in some dark corner, old grudges laying around, getting rusty; they contribute to emotional clutter, take energy away from the full focus I want in my current life.

the head

I can see the snake’s face, even the eyes. It’s eerie, ghost-like, the empty shell of a former life, like an abandoned house that is beginning to crumble back into the earth. Maybe that’s what these old resentments are – ghosts that have no real life to inhabit anymore; time to get rid of them.

The snake shows the way.

snake header

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: On the Way.

Posted in Animals and Critters, Healing Ourselves and the Planet, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments


Entanglements can be messy, chaotic, funny, bothersome, confusing, or erotic. Context is everything!

Here are a few of nature’s tangled creations including the ever popular fence + flower combinations:

Lovers entangled:

lovers entangled

Cats entangled:

cat tangle

Hopefully, nobody got entangled in these music performance paraphernalia:

music performance tangle

This joyful tangle of humans, animals and leashes does look a bit confusing:

legs and leashes

Yard sales present excuses for controlled chaos and all kinds of tangled matters:

Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week is: Tangle.

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Safely Enveloped: Hummer Rescue

We love to watch the hummingbirds feeding on our porch. The cats watch them, too, but pretend to not be interested as they know the hummers are much too fast for them ….except when they fly into a window and are knocked unconscious momentarily. After the telltale thump against the window, we quickly ran outside, saw the tiny bird on the deck and chased the cats away. My husband picked him up gently and held him in his hands. It was a male ruby-throated hummingbird recognizable by the bright red throat coloring.

groggy hummingbird

groggy hummingbird

The cats feigned disinterest but kept watching.

As he protectively held the tiny bird in his hands, the little one rallied a bit

perking up

perking up

Soon, he looked alert and was in control of his body again

bright-eyed and upright

bright-eyed and upright

In the next moment, he was gone:


Another successful bird rescue! I recently posted about a gold finch rescue. Here is last year’s post on hummingbirds, our avian jewels.

This week’s Photo Challenge is “Enveloped.”

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Forces of Nature

Every mother’s list of worst-case scenarios includes having one of her children lost or attacked. And most mothers will fiercely fight for their offspring. You’ve probably received the advice to never get in between a mother bear and her cubs. Well, here is proof that you never want to mess with Mama Duck’s babies, no matter how handsome a swan you may be.

This is what happened:

As I approach the duck pond, I hear people screaming and waving towards this trio:

Swan pursues duckling

The swan was in pursuit of the little duckling which made Mama Duck very anxious

duckling in the middle

She charges the swan

The swan counter-attacks

swan counter attacks

The baby has disappeared and Mama Duck flies away

duck flies away

Baby Duckling comes up for air and swims towards the center island for safety

duckling swims for his life

The swan reaches for the duckling and slams it into the water several times. He seems to be devouring it, or else wanting to drown it. People watch in horror from the other side of the pond: “He is killing the duckling, no, no…”

reaching for duckling again

Mama Duck flies into action again to distract the Big Bad Wolf (aka Swan)

Again, he fends her off and she finally flies away to find the rest of her brood she left unattended.

in hot pursuit

duck flies off

The small group of people that has huddled together to watch this drama includes two gay men with tattoos, a young mother with twin babies, another mother with a toddler in hand, and this middle-aged blogger. We talk about how it all started and feel sad for the loss of the duckling and compassion for its mother. Why would a big swan feel threatened by a tiny little duckling who surely would not be a danger to the swan wife sitting on her nest nearby? Suddenly, someone cries out: “Here he is, look, look!”

duckling re-emerges

The little duckling survived the severe water-boarding and had re-emerged close to where we were gathered. The swan had also noticed and started swimming towards the duckling again. People picked up little pebbles and twigs and threw them at the swan to chase him off. Nonchalantly, the swan changed direction which allowed the little duckling to escape into an overflow area full of twigs. Two park employees were readying a shovel to lift the little one into the overflow should the swan come near him again.

duckling hide-out

The swan watched from the distance as Baby Duckling paddled along the edge of the pond in search of his family. I follow along, camera in one hand and a stick in the other, in case Mister Swan starts to act aggressive again.

duckling heading home

The duck family watches quietly as the little duckling steps out of the pond to join them.

mama and siblings

There are no hugs and kisses from Mama Duck but one of the siblings waddles over and cuddles up to the almost-lost duckling

sibling love

Within a few moments, Mama Duck leads the way and takes her charges back into the water.

back in the water

This week’s Photo Challenge is: Forces of Nature.

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Oh, to be young again!

A recent weekend visit to a local park showed kids doing what most kids do best: moving their little bodies and playing to their hearts’ content.

Future Baseball Stars:

Future Race Car Driver (watch out for this one, Danica Patrick!):

Rocking and swinging and sliding:

Beauty Contest and Modeling practice:

This reminds me that it’s been much too long since I played gleefully myself….

Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week is: Youngsters.

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