Life in General, Nature: Hiking, Wildlife & More

Snakes without Fangs

Snakes without Fangs

I posted a picture on FB of me holding a snake I found on a trail and the comments were interesting. It was clear that people are afraid of the snake, not because it can hurt them or because it’s poisonous, but because it’s a snake. There’s one kind of snake that survives by imitating a rattle snake, the rat snake. That trick works in nature, other animals are fooled, but with humans, well, let’s face it, they just try to kill it anyways.

That’s nothing but ignorance and media gullibility. Snakes do not chase you down, like in Anaconda. (Except maybe black mambas, and I try to steer clear of them.) And living with these amazing creatures is a joy and a gift. I’m no snake expert, but I have bothered to learn what’s dangerous and isn’t in the area where I live and hike, and my life is richer for it. That’s just smart. If I lived in the Serengeti I wouldn’t take a stroll out into lion territory without some way to escape or a knowledge of where the lions are hunting that day.

I relate this fear of the unknown to so many people I know, and things that have happened recently. People get bitten by snakes for two reasons, they step on it, or they poke at it with a stick. If they weren’t afraid of it, they’d take a picture and move on.

Where did we get this fear of what we don’t understand? I recently had someone make a slew of accusations about me on the web, and trust me, it’s not easy to read a bunch of lies about yourself, your husband, and your children. It was someone who thinks she has reason to fear me, and was hissing to try to strike back, but in truth, I see her and her comments, as the fangless, harmless snake poop that they are and the behavior as that of a baser type of creature. Information is a good thing. I know not to fear a rat snake, or even a rattle snake if I’m aware. I know I’m a good mom who works very hard and has made choices in her life to make less money in the short run in favor of a life filled with community and art and mom-ness. I was raised with money, so it isn’t such a motivator for me as it is to someone who comes from nothing. I have a loving family, so I understand that someone who doesn’t, can’t relate to the value of that over a bigger house. Yes, those are my choices. If I wanted what someone else had, trust me, I would have it. I have exactly what I want, a loving, talented, husband, an unbreakable bond with my daughters, my writing, my many incredible friends, and a beautiful home that is a place of laughter, nature, and retreat. I want for nothing, I have an amazing life. Everyday I am thankful for it.

These choices might be impossible for someone to grasp who hasn’t got it. Jewelry and cars cannot replace true accomplishment and contentment, I know this because I have had so much of both. But how would someone know that when they are looking at life through eyes that see only the preconceived? It’s like the harmless rat snake, it can’t hurt you, but you fear it out of ignorance, because you were taught that they’re scary, or worse, because it serves you to try to scare others with the falsehood.

Can’t you just hear that human’s rattle going? The hiss, hiss, of the upset reptile, which really means, of course, “I’m afraid of you, stay away.”

So, as much as I might like to poke certain snake people with a sharp stick, I know better not to, I learned that from snakes. And, come on, it’s just common sense. I’ll keep admiring the real snakes and ignoring the human ones.

So, in conclusion, don’t fear the noise, don’t fear the scales, look at the snake, see how beautiful the pattern of its skin is? How beautifully it moves through the grass?

And the rattle goes, trrrrrrrrrr. Sounds like music to me, part of the symphony of life. Rich, stark, profound and trite, it is all magnificent.

Don’t fear snakes, fear ignorance.

Or just accept that we live with both, and be happy.

Shari, 10-6-2012

Nature: Hiking, Wildlife & More

Backyard buddies.

Here’s a little friend I found trying to swim in my pool. I was glad to see him, and one of his siblings the day before, because we’ve had a shortage of snakes this year. For those of you who don’t understand this, it means—an excess of rodents! Now, I love to see my little country mice in my yard, nibbling on nuts and berries, but they don’t know from the nuts and berries in my kitchen cabinets. I’ve tried talking to them, but some species just won’t listen, and it’s not just the males. So, I’m all for a better, natural balance. Bring on the serpents!Image

Nature: Hiking, Wildlife & More

I’m always careful when I hike in the hills to watch for snakes. I see them pretty much everyday, and if I don’t, I sometimes hear them, just the rattlers, in the tall grass. I get to thinking I’m pretty serpent savvy and then I go and do something stupid. Today, I hike up a few thousand feet, then start down the steep part. It’s very dry and the steep ground is hard, so it’s easy to slip. I always carry a stick to swat a the grass ahead of me, just to let the ghetto snakes know I’m coming, but suddenly, I find myself, not on my feet, but on my butt and rolling into the rattlesnake habitat. The whole time, I’m muttering, “Oh please don’t let me land on a snake, Oh please don’t let me land on a snake.”
I didn’t. but it got me thinking that life is like that. Sometimes, you’re feeling cocky, looking at golden swaying grasses and blue sky, and the next minute, you’re face down in hostile reptile habitat.
It always helps to land facing up, where you can say to yourself, “My, what a lovely blue sky.”