Shedding

Shedding

Maurice just shed his skin again. He's not an iguana - he's a corn snake who lives in a glass tank in the dining room. He usually sheds when no one is watching, but this time I got to see just the tail end of the process. Literally.

It was like watching someone take off a sock. It seemed as if the old skin was actually pulling itself off, each tiny scale at a time. I watched as the tube got narrower and narrower until it turned into a tiny point. A gleaming new snake was connected to a little pile of gossamer by a single scale.

With a wriggle, the drama was over and I reached into the tank to take it out the shed skin. How soft and fine and slippery it felt. Thinner than any plastic material, transparent and luminescent, each tiny scale embedded like a window within a white membrane.

I was reminded of J.R.R.Tolkien's description of elfin rope - thin and strong at the same time. Magical.

I don't notice the details of life most of the time. But every once in a while something unexpected gives me a jolt. Like an intrusion into my world from somewhere else.

What was this thing I was holding? A relic from the world of fairies? An out-of-place object from an unimaginable future? A slight glimpse of the true face of Nature?

It was as if for the briefest moment, a hand had reached into my tank.