When I’m mowing the lawn I sometimes find a snakeskin nestled in the blades of grass in our front yard. The skin is usually about a foot long, translucent, and still bears the imprint of tail, scales, belly, jaws, nostrils, and eyes. It’s like finding the ghost of a snake haunting our yard. I always pick up the skin. It feels like tissue paper, dry and smooth, and I take it into the house where I can admire it. Molting is just an ordinary thing that snakes do, the same way we cut our hair or clip our fingernails. Nevertheless, encountering a snakeskin is always a highlight of my day. It feels like a close encounter with a secret of the universe.

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