I took a walk through the woods today. There, in the shadow of bare tree branches, the earliest plants are beginning to reach toward the sky. No flowers yet. No swollen buds even. Not yet. But soon.

The walk was just a chance to shake off some of winter’s cobwebs. Let the dog run a little. Soak up some Vitamin D.

And then, I nearly stepped on a snake.

There was snow on the ground just last week. A snake, reptile or other cold-blooded type creature was not at all what I expected to see today.

Spring can be so delightfully surprising.

The snake was just a garter snake. Nothing to fear, and certainly something to celebrate. These slender, harmless snakes love the taste of slugs, and are great additions to the garden. This particular individual was sluggish — surely cold — and had a dusting of dirt on its head and eyes. I suspect it had only just emerged from its long winter’s nap, and was soaking up its first warm sun rays of the season.

After today’s encounter, I’m wondering when I’ll see my first snake of the season in the Outlaw Garden — at least one garter snake lives here among the strawberries and tomatoes. I’m also wondering about the toads and the skinks, and then of course the butterflies and bees and other wild critters that set up housekeeping in the garden. Soon, it’ll be a bustle of life again, and I just can’t wait.

I’ve written about this “wilderness” in the garden before:

Have you seen any signs of returning wild critters in your garden, or in the woods or parks nearby?

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