"Take out the garbage." "Water the hydrangea." "Refill the bird feeders." My mind was busy running down a list of things to get done as I walked out the garage door and down the steps at sunrise. As I turned back around to fill the pail with birdseed, I noticed that I had walked right by this little guy, who was waiting in ambush just inside the door for his morning rodent.
I'm proud to say that my self-restraint at sudden snake appearances has evidently reached a new level of control. This time, for perhaps the first time, I did not spontaneously levitate, shout, or run. I merely said "Hi, little guy," took the iPhone photograph above, and walked back past him to get the good camera.
Seeing that Mrs. ProfessorRoush was awake and taking care of Bella, I told her to come out the garage door to see something "neat." She followed me back outside, took one quick glance, and pivoted back inside so fast she left a scorch mark on the concrete, all while fixing me with a cold stare over her shoulder and telling me never to do that again. It was an impressive bit of ballet. Lesson learned; Mrs. ProfessorRoush requires morning coffee before she is ready to deal with snakes.
I took another few pictures, ignored the snake's impertinent and rude tongue gestures, and then gently swept this cute little Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) off the edge of the driveway into the lilacs. I hope he's learned his lesson and catches his rodents outside in the rocks in the future, saving me from further marital discord or spousal displeasure.