Sometimes, even the best laid plans will never hatch
The late afternoon heat roiled like a shimmering mirage around the patch of young forest, where tall, trim pines cast darkening shadows and pungent sap drifted invisible in the slow summer breeze.
As a kid I loved walking through this canopied oasis, the damp coolness of it, and the earthy smell of dead pine needles crunching softly beneath the soles of my low-cut sneakers. Here, I felt completely relaxed and at peace with myself in a natural setting not more than a block away from my house.
The trek home from school through the forest that afternoon was uneventful until something caught my eye at the base of a pine trunk.
In a flash of recognition, I shouted, "Snake eggs!"
Sure enough, snake eggs, like the kind I had seen in my school science books — around fifty of them, all gathered in a neat little pile like pea sized cannon balls.
I quickly wrapped my 8-year-old brain around this amazing discovery and went looking for something to put them in.
A dirty plastic ham salad container would have to do. One by one I scooped up the little brown ovals with a sheet of notebook paper and deposited them in the container. Carefully, I snapped the lid shut and made fast tracks for home.
Once I got home I hid the container away on a closet shelf in my bedroom where my parents would never find them.
Then I waited for the eggs to hatch.
And I waited.
It became a daily ritual: each morning before heading off to school, and later when I got home, I went into the closet and examined the eggs’ progress.
It had been many days since my great discovery. But the eggs were no closer to hatching.
Something’s wrong, I thought. It shouldn’t take this long for snake eggs to hatch.
Maybe they just weren't getting enough heat. Then I remembered the electrical outlet inside the closet and plugged in a desk lamp. I positioned the lamp on a book so that it was exactly six inches above the snake eggs and let the heat go to work.
Another week went by and still no hatched eggs. I decided it was the right time for the opinion of an “expert” classmate, who kept rabbits at home as pets.
With furrowed brow, he took one look at the snake eggs and shook his head.
”Those things will never hatch,” he said.
My heart sank. Some expert.
”Why won’t they hatch?” I said.
“Simple,” he responded knowingly. “They aren’t snake eggs.”
“They’re not? What are they?”
He was laughing so hard now that he started coughing.
I have to admit, I’ve made some pretty bad calls in my youth, but this one stayed with me a long time.
Kids can be so cruel.
These days, all I can do is smile at the cute little bunny rabbits on display in the pet store, with their button noses furiously scrunching away over piles of "snake eggs" in the hay lining their cages.