Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Unusual visitor...and "Why is my sidewalk so clean?"

It's not every day you see a California Red-Sided Gartersnake. Their populations have dwindled over the years, and they move pretty darn quickly because they'd just as soon you missed them altogether.

QGI Horticulture Chair and "Green Goatee" Tony Tarket was too quick for a little visitor to the Quesada Garden when he saw something moving near the Third Street end of the garden last Wednesday in the late afternoon. Tony has worked for a zoo, knows his way around reptiles, and soon had delayed the creature's progress long enough to show him to neighbors and identify him as T. s. infernalis. That's a snake to you and me.

"In September 2001, the accidental death of a single garter snake at the San Francisco Airport BART station construction site delayed construction efforts 18 days and cost $1.07 million." From Wikipedia
The snake moved swiftly as soon as Tony had enticed the creature out of his shirt pocket, and was gone in a flash of beautiful red, tan and black markings the moment it was released, none the worse for wear, back into the garden where it had been found.

Tony works hard in our neighborhood's community gardens. Many mornings, he can also be found blowing debris from the sidewalk the full length of the 1700 block of Quesada, so that the street sweepers get a good haul (and so neighbors come out their front doors to a nice surprise).

Like the California Red-Sided Gartersnake (you knew there was a connection here somewhere...right?), Tony is all too rare in the scope of his community contribution. Several other neighbors on Quesada walk the block and pick up trash on a regular basis. (Thank you Tom, James, Annette...!) But Tony is one of the most visible and giving Quesada Gardens Initiative members ever.

Thank you, Tony! Say "hi" to our newest friend in the garden if you're lucky enough to have another visit.

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