Sunday, 20 October 2013

SIMPLY A MOMENT - October 2013

Life has been busy here and I like taking part in Alexa's monthly neme 'Simply a Moment'.  This is a chance to reflect and take stock, and I have not had time to join in lately.  There are other 'moments' that I could share, but the one I have chosen has stayed with me.  I have been meaning to post about it so this seems a good time, even though it is not recent. 
At the time I posted about it on Facebook, as I felt a need to share my experience when it happened.  So the details are accurate and I can cunjure the feelings easily. I was grateful to friends and family who shared my surprise.   For more 'Simply a Moment' stories head over to Alexa, and I hope to be back next month with another of my own.


23rd August 10:35am

I had been working hard indoors and it was brunch time. The sun was shining and it was warm so I decided to make a sandwich and cup of tea and sit outside.  We built a new pond this summer. Just a small one, and I hoped to attract frogs and newts back into our garden.  So I thought I would take a chair next to the pond and if I couldn't see any wildlife there was always the reflection of tress and sky in the water to enjoy......

The pond is against the fence with a tall weeping birch to one side.  I love this tree. It is graceful and it softens the newness of the pond.  I have planted around the edges and they are getting established. I have also planted water mint and 'parrot feather' in the pond.  

I settle onto my chair and balance the plate on my lap.  The sun is warm and there is stillness in the air.  I look at the surface of the pond.  The water plants have spread and covered much of the water and I think how healthy they look.  Then suddenly I become aware of lots of movement.  It surprises me and I wonder what can be causing it.  I rise from the chair and put my plate on the seat.  Looking more closely into the pond I see lots of disturbance, then a fleeting glimpse of something large moving around.  There are no fish in this pond. We have left it for wildlife, and thoughts race through my mind.  What is this?  Then suddenly I see more movement, scales, and I realise it is a snake. A large snake judging by the size of the disturbance.  I feel excited.  I become completely absorbed in watching as a tip of its tail appears and 'feels' for the edge of the pond. 

The snake works it way onto a small ledge backwards, folding its length back and forth taking up the available space.  This feels surreal.  Snakes are not frequently seen in our garden. I am not afraid and identify it.  A harmless grass snake, not an adder, my mind is trying to take all this in and to make sense of what I am seeing.  It is unexpected and I feel glued to the spot, watching.
Then the snakes lifts the last of its body out of the water and I see a frog in its mouth.  I know now why there was so much disturbance in the pond.  All this happens within a seconds, although it feels like time has slowed. My excitement turns to unease.  At first I think the frog must be dead but then I see the back leg move occasionally. I feel uncomfortable at what I see. I am oblivious to everything else. The snake is trying to make a secure footing, I want to watch but I don't want to see. It is disturbing, and yet I am fascinated.  

I dash indoors for my camera. It is on the kitchen worktop so I am quick. I switch the camera on and I feel even more uncomfortable as I zoom in and focus to take photos.  But I know I would regret not having this recorded. I feel privileged to be here, to witness
nature in its raw.  This is not like watching a TV documentary or a picture in a book.  This is causing dilemma. I want to watch. I want to wash these imagines and thoughts from my mind. I want to rescue the frog....

Photo: I thought I'd sit by my new wildlife pond to have lunch and was surprised to see lots of movement among the water plants. Then I saw a huge snake - it must be about 2 ft in length stretched out. I was quite excited, and it started to manoeuvre itself backwards out of the pond and found a edge where it could rest. 

It was then I saw this poor frog hanging out of it's mouth!  I think this snake has bitten off more than he can chew (excuse the pun!)  I grabbed my camera and watched to see what would happen and the snake was clever enough to find a small exit between the rocks but he can not get the frog through. 

I am feeling disturbed now.  The poor frog is still a live and when the snake released hold to get a better grip the frog made a quick move - it is now caught by the leg.  Urgh!!  I love nature but didn't expect it to be so raw in my garden.  I've had to come inside and I have mixed feelings about going back to see what happened.  Part of me wanted to rescue the frog but I know it will probably die from shock or injury anyway.
The snake continues to use its tail to find direction.  It feels a small gap between the rocks and goes into it backwards.  The soil is soft, dug when the pond was built. It is not yet compressed by time and the snake starts to make an exit.  Then it stops.  The frog is too big to go through the gap. I watch wondering what will happen...
The snake is opening it mouth, trying to gain a more secure hold.  The frog starts to move now, seeing a window of opportunity for escape. I realise it has more life than I realised. The frog makes a sudden attempt but my heart sinks when the snake reacts fast, catching the frog by its back leg.  It struggles but is held tight. Now I feel even more disturbed. The frog is looking towards me. I  can see its eyes. I go indoors.  The thoughts and vision stay with me. My sandwich remains on the chair and my tea is getting cold.

Not all 'moments' are heart warming.  This was powerful, and as much as it was distasteful and distressing to watch, I felt privileged to be present.  It is not something I want to experience again and for those who might wonder, my curiosity did get the better of me.  When I eventually mustarded the courage to go back outside the snake was back in the pond.  It had managed to swallow the frog almost completely and I was there to watch it make an alternative exit. Then it moved through the ferns that edge the pond and I was amazed how fast it moved. Gone in the blink of an eye. I wanted a natural pond to encourage wildlife. I never expected to see this.
And probably I never will again. I was in the right place at the right time. Next year I am hoping for tadpoles and newts please!  



  1. Gross!!!!! Euch!!!! Brave girl for watching and recording. I must share my snake story with you soon!

  2. Gross!!!!! Euch!!!! Brave girl for watching and recording. I must share my snake story with you soon!

  3. Don't think I could have stayed around to watch!...nature in the raw indeed,,
    Alison xx

  4. I'm feeling quite pleased that I didn't see this moment....but understand why you wanted to capture it.

  5. Beautifully written, Sandie.
    Joy xx

  6. I'm not sure that I could record that, I'm afraid of snakes. My mother tells stories about snakes when she was a little girl, and I feel sorry.
    You are really brave.

  7. I imagine this being like a wreck - you don't want to see, but you can't look away. Eewwww. Nature is just not pretty sometimes.

  8. Oh my goodness! Not sure if I liked this story or not! Don't like the idea of a snake, albeit a grass one being in my garden (and I'm not that far from you lol!). Excellent moment to record though and well done you for photographing it. Impressive moment.

  9. Certainly an unusual moment and I think I would feel exactly the same as you, torn between fascination and alarm. Wonderfully recorded though.

  10. If we weren't blogging and telling stories you would never have run inside to get your camera to record such an amazing moment. What a brilliant picture and beautifully told moment.

  11. Oh my goodness, Sandie, what a moment you have so powerfully shared with us here, just as it unfolded, with such detailed outer and inner observation. I am left feeling both awe and unease myself! From the tranquil, sunny, relaxed beginning to the cool, edge feelings of distress at the end, I was gripped. Thank-you so much for such a vivid piece of writing, and for joining in with us again this month :).

  12. Now that's a different take on SAM ... but a real one. Poor frog, but happy snake! TFS

  13. Wow, what timing and how beautifully written. It's a shame that nature give and nature takes away too. Not sure what I'd've done if I'd been you.


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