On the butte called Umatilla rock was a saddle that was low enough to cross on foot. On either side, lay a valley, one with a full lake and the other with a dry one. The earth was cool on the saddle and the sky dark overhead. It was forecast to rain today and the day was preparing. We warm-blooded creatures were having a hard enough time trying to keep our warmth, I can only imagine the difficulty for our cold blooded kin.
There was a chill in the air as the snake came out of a hole on the saddle. The blood of the snake as cold as the earth beneath it. The creature moved with a slowness that seemed as if the only thing moving it forward was the incline of the saddle.
The snake licked the air, searching for food or warmth, but warmth was hard to come by on the saddle, the season changing. The snake found a shrub to twirl around, lifting its triangular head it lowered its body off the cliff of Umatilla. It licked again furiously for some small taste of something, but no such luck.
A break in the ice, A rush of water too great to fathom, and now I share this place with a snake, slowing from the cold. It is impossible, but it’s not. I know something happened here that shaped this land in an outstanding way, but I can’t see it. I see the snake, and the towering sides of the saddle, with their cracked surfaces. Umatilla rock built high above our camp and the lakes. These old brick like stones laid on top of each other, built too high to even make sense.
Slowly, almost infinitesimally, the snake slid in between the butte’s cracked rocks. Disappearing under a cracked boulder that looked as if it had crushed itself under its own incredible weight. The snake’s tail only rattled once as it hit a dried branch before it disappeared entirely from sight.