The King slid along the Malibu Canyon forest floor, under and over, composting leaves. It began winding up a vine twined around an oak tree.
“Annie, walk straight towards me, don’t stop, don’t look left or right. Just keep walking to me.”
LJ slowly backed down the path as he kept his eyes on the snake, which had paused at Annie’s shoulder. “If she brushes the vine, he might bite,” he thought.
Annie calmly moved to LJ and followed him as he continued to back down the path. They cleared the shadow of the tree and stepped into the sunlight.
He hugged her, “there was a snake on the vine you were walking past.”
“Could you tell what kind?”
“It had red, white, and black rings, probably a scarlet king snake. They are not poisonous, but their bite is painful and causes swelling.”
“The last king snake I saw was by our house not long ago. It was at least five feet long, huge! Why are they called King snakes?”
“Because they are the predators of other snakes,” said LJ as he paused to drink water. They also eat lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs.”
“Well, thanks for saving my life; how about I return the favor and feed you a delicious lunch?”
“I was hoping you’d say that. A three-mile hike up the canyon and now down has made me hungry. Let’s get to a flat area and look for a shade tree to spread our blanket. What’s for lunch?”
I brought orange juice spritzers because it is beneficial for keeping your kidneys healthy. When we’re exercising like now, it’s essential to stay hydrated, and it’s also important to keep our kidneys flushed.
“Why the focus on kidney health?”
Annie paused and handed him the water bottle filled with the orange drink. “The primary function of our kidneys is to flush out waste and toxins from our body. Kidneys help maintain body fluids, release hormones that regulate blood pressure and produce a form of vitamin D that stimulates strong and healthy bones. Approximately 10% of the population worldwide has chronic kidney disease (CKD). More than 1 in 7 adults in the US, about 37 million people, have CKD. Kidney disease is also tied to diabetes, in that…