I refer not to some metaphorical nest of vipers — the Michael Moores, the North Koreans or ticket counter agents on US Air — but the actual reptiles. In my area of Washington DC (I do not live in New York and haven’t for roughly 15 years contrary to many readers’ impression), we take Cosmo and his cousin Buckley to the park — a lot. Which park varies, but it seems nearly all of them have seen an increase in snake activity. The worst offender is Little Falls park which basically straddles the border between DC and Maryland and has a sizable creek running through it. We’d heard reports of lots of snake sightings, but this weekend we went and we counted at least four water snakes and we’re pretty sure we saw a copperhead. Normally, we’d see no serpents. Just the other day in Battery Kemble park, where Cosmo has maintained order for years, my sister-in-law spotted an enormous snake-in-the-grass, probably a rat snake or perhaps a UN Oil-for-Food official.
I’ve heard several explanations for all this. An especially cold spring yielding to sudden hot summer weather might bring the snakes out of their faculty lounges in big numbers, for example. But all I can tell you as a committed urbanite (who walks absent-mindedly listening to NPR and C-SPAN on his walkman while reaching into dark places to find Cosmo’s tennis balls and the like) is, I Don’t Like It. And, all I can tell you as a Simpson’s fan is that it’s time for whacking day.
Update: I originally used the mispelled phrase “snake citings.” It’s been changed to “sightings,” but not before several readers sent me notes along the following lines:
Surely you realize that snake citings are a big factor in reptiles getting tenure! (Though I’m a little unclear on the proper format to use when I cite a snake.)
Subject: Snake “citing”? I thought that was referring to a Sidney Blumenthal column.