Where did all the snakes go?

It’s been months now since I’ve seen a snake on Garter Snake Alley.

It’s not like I miss them, exactly, though I do feel secretly proud of my snake-phobic self for learning to deal with this stretch of trail connecting Bluffton’s River Greenway with Oubache State Park. There have been times when my sister and I have counted upwards of a dozen garters sunning themselves on the pavement as we run by.

Not this summer, though. For a long time I thought maybe we were just missing peak snake hours, because we’ve tried to avoid running in the heat of the day. But on Friday afternoon, when Traci persuaded me to join her on a 6-miler, I decided to turn our run into a data-gathering expedition to give my mind something to dwell on besides the sun’s 94-degree death rays.

But once again, our snake census struck out.

“Maybe it’s the drought,”  I suggested, noting that the creek coming off the Wabash is bone dry these days. It looked the way the inside of my mouth was feeling just then. Parched. I couldn’t wait to get some water. It’s amazing I was somehow able to keep talking, which is no doubt what my sister was thinking.

Traci used her remote starter to turn the AC on in her Acadia while we were still “cooling down,” or attempting to, anyway. Gushing sweat, we drove over to the Marathon station and guzzled two large drinks apiece.

The wildlife in the state park can’t escape this wretched weather so easily. I guess it’s just too darn hot these days, even for cold-blooded animals.

Swapping drought and snake stories this weekend with relatives, it turns out my brother’s family encountered a rat snake unusually close to their lake cottage near Niles, Mich., last week. My nephews wound up dissecting it as an “educational project,” and found an intact frog inside.

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