The dinosaur whodunnit has been solved.
Well, sort of.
Several weeks ago, you may recall I wrote a column about a creature which, to me, looks like a dinosaur and is poking its head out of the woods along I-20 westbound between Clemson Road and I-77.
It’s fashioned from a fallen tree trunk that has been painted a florescent green. It has eyes and long, white teeth.
Every time I see it, I smile. Not just because it’s fun to look at it, but it’s fun to think about who did it.
Well bless Pat, the other day I got an email from a woman who wrote, “It’s a snake, the green thing between Clemson Road and I-77. At least me and my daughter tried to make it look like one!”
Thus, I stand happily corrected – it’s not a long-necked diplodocus hanging out just behind a highway guardrail but a slithery no-shoulder.
The email continued.
“For the last year, I have passed by that downed pine (tree) and in my imagination, it was a snake. The shape, how it protruded out of the woods, just reminded me of a long snake. So I thought with a little help (paint, teeth) we could bring it to life.
“The teeth I carved out of two sticks. A can of green paint and a piece of reflective fabric from a safety vest to make the eyes glow in the dark. Just some silly summer fun for me and my 10-year-old daughter. When I was kid, I remember all those quirky pieces of ‘art work’ that allowed my imagination to run. We’re hoping to make people smile along the way.”
Well, I suspect plenty of folks have smiled along the way.
And like me, they’ve wondered who did it.
But dear reader, as hard as I tried to convince this mother and her daughter to come out from the creative shadows and reveal themselves to you and me, I failed.
“We really didn’t do it for the attention,” the mom told me. “I think part of the fun is to leave it unknown.”
And so I suppose part of this story is about doing something good, something that gives others joy, without having to take credit for it, without having to put one’s name on it.
It’s not an easy task.
Who doesn’t like acknowledgement? Who doesn’t like checkmarks by the side of their name? Gold stars, awards and atta-boys?
I know I do.
And I know now that every time I pass by the green snake by the side of highway I will try hard not to wonder about who did it.
Instead I’ll think about how many smiles have crossed how many drivers’ faces as they’ve discovered the creature. I’ll think about how many gnarly morning-commute moods have been relieved just a bit by this charming creation.
I’ll smile, too, thinking about a mother whose “silly summer fun” turned into a valuable lesson for her daughter and for us all.
Yep, there’re all kinds of ways to help others; a down pine tree turned into a green snake is certainly one.
And there are all kinds of ways to make others smile without making it about ourselves.
Salley McAden McInerney is a local writer whose novel, Journey Proud, is based upon growing up in Columbia during the 1960s. She may be reached by emailing email@example.com.