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Coast Patch-nosed Snake, meet my bare feet

May 15, 2011

A freakish and fabulous late spring downpour this morning made the trails damp and scented like my favorite dirt perfume.  Since I’m only half-running still (recalcitrant back pain, nagging ankle and knee issues–I guess barefoot hiking/running is not a miracle cure after all), the other half of my outings is spent walking and stalking with my trusty little pocket camera (Canon PowerShot SD960 IS).

I almost missed this Coast Patch-nosed Snake paused in the dappled shade of deer weed on the edge of western Bumblebee Trail at Santiago Oaks Regional Park. After I did my “snake double-take” — which usually happens a few steps past– I went back and shot a few photos and a little video (which will one day be spliced into a Cannes-worthy montage of local reptiles).

Then I headed up the trail. Just a few steps. Looked back. Mr. Patch-nose was still there, calmly testing the air with his tongue to see which way his next meal lay. “Picture time!” I thought. Mr. P-N was OK with it.

My mud manicure still looks fresh in the photo…ah, mud…wandering the hills today, I thought more than once of ee cummings’ line: “The world is mud-luscious and puddle wonderful.” It really is…

Along with the trail smooshies, this morning’s rain-burst brought out the sparkle in the wildflowers.

Pink bush mallow.

Yellow and red-orange deer weed.

Web diamonds in the dry grass.

My first intermediate mariposa lily sighting this year…along Barham Ridge.

Like the Coast Patch-nosed Snake, this lily is rare and getting rarer . . . but you can find them right here in Orange County on Barham Ridge, 15 minutes from downtown Orange, one of my favorite places to explore . . .

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