In this culture of environmental awareness I have been given the oppor-tunity to "make a differ-ence." I was the faculty representative for the UNC Charlotte ME department "campus cleanup" day.
This gave me the chance to both draft people into cleaning and also get to learn a
few things in the process.
As unattractive as it must have appeared to many of my professor colleagues, I happily volunteered to head up this typically unpopular activity. Campus cleanup day is just the forum to sell my trashy beliefs to others. The night before, I put up a half dozen giant posters. On the morning of the cleanup day, I parked my station wagon in a prime location with a big banner, stacked up my plastic bags and rubber gloves, set out water, and waited.
Eventually, a few glorious souls did stop by, including a good friend, Larry and I went to police the woods. Larry started picking stuff up and I started looking around in these beautiful shady woods and below me was a bright red ring and as I reached for it I realized that it was a tiny Red Bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) coiled up on its back.
It looked dead but I assumed that it was on its back as a defense mechanism as nobody wants to touch
a dead thing and this tiny snake wouldn't be five inches long when stretched out.
"Cool, a snake!" I said.
To which Larry replied, "Oh no, be careful, I just hate snakes".
"No, no", I said, "this one is just a small one."
But it didn't matter. Larry doesn't like snakes regardless of whether they were 30-foot Anacondas or one the size of an earthworm.
But then as I reached for it, it flipped over, slid beneath the leaf litter and vanished.
Eventually, Sam, a graduate student of mine, came by and watched the table so I could find trash (my primary goal), and I brought up several bags and a car tire. Bliss.
At the end of the day, we had a good haul.
Sam and Larry were the recipients of the awards, and I was able to see a beautiful and tiny Red Bellied Snake.