The naturalists

Greg and I like the outdoors and usually take vacations to the mountains or ocean. We’ve been close to animals in the wild — moose and black bear — and even spent a day on the Alaskan tundra surrounded by grizzlies (And if you want to hear more, we’d love to show you the 900 photos Greg took that day. Really. You can experience every second with us.).

Lately, Eleanor is fascinated with nature as well. We turned her loose last night at the park across the street from our house. She toddled ahead of us while we chatted, and the next thing I knew, Greg put a near strangle-hold on my arm and froze.

“Don’t move,” he said.

I looked down. What was it? A scorpion? A tarantula? A nest of fire ants? I couldn’t see anything, and Greg was yanking me sideways. I looked anxiously at Eleanor, who had already walked past the scary thing we were trying to avoid. Greg was silent. He pulled again at my arm, and I stumbled as I scanned the ground for the scary thing.

Greg walked me in a six-foot semi-circle around the scary thing. He finally pointed. A snake.

“Woah!” I said. “I didn’t even see that.”

It was bright green and about a foot and a half long. It didn’t look particularly threatening though. It was very still.

“I wonder what kind it is,” I said. “I’m going to Google it when we get home.”

“I’m not sure it’s even alive,” Greg said.

“It doesn’t look dead,” I said. It was holding its head off the ground.

“No, I mean I don’t know if it’s real,” he said.

I got a little closer. It looked real. I picked up a twig and threw it at the snake, which didn’t move as the twig hit its tail.

Greg and I decided it must be fake. Still, no use in touching it, right?

I went back today to snap a photo of the snake to post with this. It was gone.

(A follow-up: We found a photo that looks just like our snake. I guess he was really good at faking us out.)