Yep...there was a hibernating snake inside! My mother is deathly, phobically(can that be a word for today?), pathologically afraid of snakes and the fact that she was, for all intents and purposes, holding a snake in her hand produced a mild temporary insanity in which she stomped around, breathed hard (and I bet a little whimpering wouldn't be out of the question), and looked for a way to get rid of it. Finally, she just set it back down on the counter and fled for the house.
When she calmed enough to tell my aunt what she'd seen, there was some debate over whether or not what mom might have seen was simply a frog. To solve the matter, Aunt C put on her welding gloves (her little dog P requires daily heart med's but does not like to be handled) and, armed with a paper plate for the top of the vase, set out to do battle with the serpent. After dumping the beast over the back fence, she beat a hasty retreat back to the safety of the house. Mom called and requested that I clean off the back porch to find others if present, and to prevent others from having so many places to hide.
I'll let you know if I have to break out my lance and shield :)