RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – There is always something wonderful to witness at “Pondito,” a little ranch country oasis tucked away in the arid chaparral of Starr County.
On this sweltering summer afternoon a doe and two fawns stroll in to slack their thirst. After drinking their fill the dear depart, and a great egret arrives to stalk the tranquil pond for prey, occasionally snaring a tasty minnow.
Dragonflies flit to and from their favorite perches on gossamer wings, and bright yellow kiskadees patrol for insects at waters edge.
While it is seemingly peaceful at this secluded oasis, there is lethal danger lurking on the narrow trail leading in.
I walked right by this tightly coiled Diamondback rattlesnake without ever even noticing the big serpent was there. Lying motionless in a sandy depression the diamondback blended in perfectly on the leaf-strewn ground.
I never saw the snake until I had walked past him within easy striking distance. Fortunately, I guess I was too big to eat, and “Dry Tail Slim” allowed my passage.
After quietly admiring the impressive pile of snake for a few minutes and thanking him for sparing me, “Mr. No Shoulders” began to flick his forked tongue and unwind his considerable length. He slowly slithered in the direction of his nearby lair and gradually his five plus feet of scaly diamonds disappeared until finally only his silent rattles remained visible.
I think next time I walk that path; I will look a little more closely at that sandy depression along the way…just in case the trailside ambush has been set.