November 11, 2008

Red Touches Yellow

When I was little, my doctor worked in a clinic that had the coolest entryway. I didn't much notice the entryway when they reopened the clinic in the middle of the night to deal with my pneumonia-induced 104 degree fever and delirium, but that's another story. Usually, I loved the place.

We entered through a fully-enclosed glass walkway over a large-scale terrarium. There were lots of plants, a few turtles, and fish in the small pond directly under the walkway. My mother figured out, eventually if not right away, to leave some extra time before our appointments so we could just stop and stare for a while. No, we couldn't wait until we were done.

The most exciting day was the one with the snake. It was the cutest little scarlet kingsnake, just tiny and absolutely adorable.

It was, by far, the mostly brightly colored thing in the entryway. It wasn't doing much, but we stared anyway. It was just so pretty.

Then my mother was hustling us inside and into chairs in the waiting room. She didn't go up to the desk to check us in as normal. No, she went back out to the entryway. Without us. We might have rebelled if she hadn't come back in quickly. Everything proceeded as usual then, right up to the end.

It wasn't until we were on our way out that she leaned over the reception desk and said, very quietly, "You might want to know that the snake in your entryway is a coral snake. Those are poisonous." Then off we went.

We never saw the snake again.

An interesting postscript: As I was looking for pretty snake photos, I discovered that the U.S. no longer has an approved manufacturer of coral snake antivenin. Wyeth decided to get out of the business. It's okay, though. They just extended the expiration date of the old stuff, so we won't be completely SOL until this time next year.

Photos: Baby Coral Snake by cordyceps. Some rights reserved. Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides from Wikimedia. Some rights reserved.


Dr. A said...

Oooh cool. I hope Dr J doesn't surf on over here or we may lose him for good!

Stephanie Zvan said...

The more the merrier for the pretty snakey party. I don't talk about them often, but I'm thinking I'll have to do more, if only to spend more time looking at pictures.

Anonymous said...

That previous comment was not by Mike the Mad Biologist. It was by me.

Why does it say Mike the Mad Biologist? Long story that gets boring before it's over, so never mind...

Anonymous said...

OK, now I see that the previous comment existed only in preview mode, and no one can see it. So what is Greg The Mad Blogger talking about???????

That is also a longer story than it needs to be, so never mind.

Here is my original comment that I meant to make. If I recall correctly, it comes in three parts:

1) Was it really, really a coral snake? Wowl.

2) Don't get me started on snake stories...

3) Have you been (and I know I asked you this but I don't remember your answer) to the kids bookstore on the w. side of Lake Harriet with the rats, cats, and chickens????

Stephanie Zvan said...

1. Yes, really, truly--as far as we know. It's not outside the realm of possibility that it was a non-American snake, in which case the color mnemonics don't hold. It did disappear, though.

2. Just give me a chance. Snakes and stories: what's not to like?

3. I have not. While I keep up on young adult books, most kids' bookstores are aimed at a lower age level than I enjoy reading.

Dr. A said...

OK so my super cool and oh so handsome sidekick has a fear of snakes. I know he likes to read your blog so yesterday I warned him not to visit. Here is an excerpt of our chat:

me: do not go over to stephanies blog today (almost diamonds)

J: fuck, just did!

you never listen to me
did you scream

J: almost
I felt sick to my stomach!
I'm going to have to wait for another couple of posts so that I can mark all as read without having to see it again

me: haha
this is even more disgusting

J: are there any snakes in that one?

me: no, worse. mormons

Stephanie Zvan said...

Oh, dear. I can't promise not to blog the snakes in the future, but I will give prior warning.

[off to apologize to Dr. J someplace where he doesn't have to worry about accidentally seeing a snake]

Anonymous said...

I think the bookstore may have juvi lit, but the real reason to go there is for the ambiance. But you must bring a kid or it will look funny. Julia's too big or I'd suggest we all go some day. Maybe in the Spring when the weather's nicer I can borrow some cousins that live near Lake of the Isles and we can make and expedition over there.

Stephanie Zvan said...

When have you seen me worry about looking funny? If it bothers you, you can always talk about nieces and nephews just a little too loudly.