Fascinating world God made or us

Published 12:44 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

What a fascinating world God made us.

When was the last time you put a seashell to your ear to listen to the roaring of the sea? Is it not wonderful? But is that sound actually the echo of ocean waves? As someone who loves the beach and collecting beautiful seashells, I like to think I am hearing the waves roll in.

I was disappointed when I read that my romantic notion was just that—a notion. According to my source, the noise is merely a composite of the echoes of a great number of ordinary sounds occurring near the shell. It has to do with the peculiar shape of the shell and the smoothness of its interior. The least vibration produces an echo and numerous such echoes blend into the rumble of the roar. Another contributing factor is that the effect heightens because the shell magnifies the pulses in our heads along with those other sounds.

Oh well, I love the fictional version I believed for years instead of the scientific version, especially when I am miles away from the Gulf of Mexico and long to be there.

Along with that information, I found an enlightening article about the hoop snake. Ever heard of it? I remember a yarn somebody spun about a snake that forms itself into a hoop, puts its tail in its mouth and rolls at a terrific speed like a wheel. The version I heard described one rolling toward a family who managed to get out of its way. The reptile kept going until it crashed into their house. It caused the house to collapse. Other tales relate that it strikes people with its tail, which has a venomous stinger. Or it squirts that poisonous fluid from its tail at whatever it pursues. If it rolls into a tree, it attacks it with the stinger. Then the tree dies in a matter of hours.

It is all blarney, of course, although there are some people who believe those stories. The little hoop or horn snake is bluish-black with a few red bars across the belly. It is perfectly harmless. Perhaps the legend started because its tail has the appearance of a horn or spike. The power the tales mention is non-existent, but it has become fodder for storytellers through the years.

The same source mentioned a snake pilot. Some believe that it precedes rattlesnakes, warning them of danger approaching. Some call it the “rattler’s companion.” These reptiles live in mountainous regions where they are also known as mountain black snakes. Those knowledgeable of snakes believe its name probably originated from the fact that this species lives near rattler habitats.

And speaking of other creatures, did you know that a frog has to close its eyes to swallow? And, you will not get warts if you handle frogs or toads, but you can get a poisonous substance from their skin. It can cause burning pain if cuts or open sores are exposed to it.


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.