Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A pond story

Last year we put together a small water feature outside our living room window (you can read about that here). I thought it would be pretty, and that we would enjoy the soothing sounds of trickling water, both outside and, when we could open windows, inside.

But it has been so much more.

Last week my daughter called me to come look at something. I was halfway up the stairs toting the vacuum cleaner (why is that invariably when someone calls for you?). Somewhat grumpily, I set the vacuum cleaner down on the landing and trudged back down to my daughter, who was pointing out the window at the new pond.

“Look, it’s the snake,” she said.

Sure enough, a checkered garter snake was swimming in the pond.  We have seen this non-venomous snake in this area many times (see Just a member of the family).

Grumpiness be gone.

We watched him as he swam around. Soon he began writhing under the water splashing into the pond from the water spigot. He did this several times – at first we thought he was trapped under it, but soon we concluded he was doing this because it felt good.

The goldfish were also swimming about, no doubt watching him warily. We decided this was a different, smaller snake than we’ve seen here before, and that the goldfish are big enough to be safe. My daughter was concerned, however, about the small leopard frog who also lives in the pond.

Bees drink from this pond all day long, gathering on the edge in a cluster, and then flying off to their work. One day my daughter told me she had touched a bee on its back – how cool is that.  I wondered if this snake might eat bees.

My nature lover daughter could only watch from afar for so long, and then she headed outside. Mr. Snake watched her draw near, and then beat a hasty retreat to the rock pile in the corner.

When I swung by the window 15 minutes later, he was back, swimming around, resting his head on the rock or edge of the pond, writhing under the waterfall.

Meanwhile, a female painted bunting came fluttering by for the drink. I stood still, thinking, “Watch out for the snake, little bird!” Instead of perching on the rock to get a drink, where she would be within the snake’s reach, she lit on the water spigot about a foot above the pond. I watched her lean over to snatch drops of water from the spigot’s spout. Smart bunting.

I decided two things about the little snake:  it was hungry and it was hot. The pond took care of both of his problems, apparently.

We’ve not seen him since. Nor have we seen the little frog.

Favorite spot in the garden:

Several years ago my friend Lona gave me some  phlox after I admired her very healthy stand. I planted them in the wrong place, with too much shade. They did not thrive. After three years or so, I figured out the problem. I moved them over about three feet to a sunnier location. This spring, they are putting on quite a show for me, and I “ooh” and “ah” every time I walk by. Garden success!


  1. The leopard frog has not been seen since……….

  2. Well I hope your frog is okay. But who ever heard of a snake playing under a waterfall? Amazing. We used to have a lovebird who would dance under a running faucet in the kitchen...

    Phlox plants are great. Like you I've had to move mine around to get them happy. I do find that they also come up in their past locations so you always have lots of plants to experiment with!