Emma and I went on our usual walk near dusk. On the road, near the back of a neighbor's property, I hear a sound like a watersprinkler starting up. Having done too much patching of an old irrigation system, I wondered if the neighbor's system had sprung a leak or if they had a new plant on an irrigation system, and if so, why it was out in an area that was essentially natural desert.
So I look beyond the road, peering into the dusk, for a sign of water or new growth.
Then I realize something is writhing much closer to me.
I must've heard rattlesnakes when I was a kid. I know perfectly well they're all around; when we spot one on our property, on average once or twice a year, we call it Mr. Stick.
But we've never startled Mr. Stick before.
Mr. Stick was trying to get away from us as quickly as he could, and I thought that was a good idea.
But I do wonder how close he was when he began to rattle.