Howdy, neighbor

This gal has taken up residence in my workshop:

black rat snake

Or guy. I asked, but she wasn’t talking.

When I cleaned out the shed Monday after leaving it fallow for a year and a half — with a job and a kid and a novel I’ve had no time for woodworking, can you imagine? — I found eight million mouse turds but no mice. Yeah, I counted. They were everywhere, along with grass seed from a chewed-up bag. Evidence of several mice, but they were gone.

Then Tuesday morning my daughter and I went outside and found a five-foot black rat snake hanging from the tool rack, looking at us. She dropped off and hid in the corner and I thought we had scared her off, but the next afternoon she was back, hanging around the rafters. So now I know what happened to the mice.

Black rat snakes aren’t dangerous — they’ll strike if cornered but they’re constrictors, so their bite isn’t serious, and I think we can leave each other alone. (She flicked her tongue at the flash, but I don’t blame her. I don’t like getting my picture taken, either.) Meanwhile, I no longer have to worry about mice in the workshop. And the kid thinks she’s the coolest thing ever.

Yep, it’s wild kingdom out here.