Sunday, June 13, 2010
I remember playing in a hay field when I was a wee lad of 5 or 6 or so. It had been mowed but wasn't bailed yet. I had a great time running and jumping in the piles and rolling around in them. I picked up a load of grass to stack on another to make a softer landing pad when all joy suddenly drained out of me. A snake jumped and slithered out of the arm full I had. Not having ever seen one in my short existence, it scared the holy livin' stuff out of me. My legs must have been a blur as I ran home to mom and breathlessly told her what happened. She laughed and said it was just a harmless garter snake and was nothing to be afraid of. Yeah, well, she wasn't there to see it and I strongly felt I shouldn't have gone through the experience. Snakes, I decided were something to stay away from.
A few years later in adolescence, courage had entered my veins and garter snakes were game to hunt down and scare girls with. Us neighborhood boys would compare sizes and types and decided that Red Racers were the fastest and scariest as opposed to Yellow Racers or ones that had no stripe at all. Although I don't remember, I think I tortured a few and ran over some with my bike. As I grew older, snakes became uninteresting.
Now that I'm well into adulthood, they have gone back on my list of things to avoid, especially in the desert. We've lived here in Phoenix for a couple of years and I've felt comfortable in not having seen one, that is until a week or so ago. I was minding my own business, doing something in my studio when my wife started yelling "Snake! Snake!". I didn't think it was going to be a big deal and calmly went to check to out. There, just below our patio door was Diamondback rattler, about eighteen inches long, in the shade trying to get out of the 110 degree sun. Ya know that sensation that comes over you that's called the creeps? Eeeeew. Chills!
Teddy Roosevelt had a deathly fear of rats. I read somewhere he couldn't stand the thought of them. To conquer his phobia, he caught one, cooked and ate it and was never troubled by them again. I thought I might barbecue a rattler and have it on a baguette but I'm not that freaked by them. Besides, my mouth has never watered over rattlesnake meat.
Anyway, even though it gave me a few tingles, I did the manly thing and killed, beheaded and threw it in the garbage. I'm fairly certain our snake is now in Hell. But now, I've decided to chant, "Scorpions, Spiders, and Snakes, Oh my!", on walks just to keep myself aware.