Thursday, March 22, 2012

Signs of Spring Redux - Snakes Awake

I must start off by saying that I lived most of my life with an irrational fear of snakes. I would have rather faced a charging, rabid grizzly bear than a couple of inch slithering garter snake. I was taught from little up to be afraid of them. My mother, who was a strong presence and in my child's mind afraid of absolutely nothing, was petrified of them. She screamed when she saw them. She couldn't stand to see them on tv and would leave the room if they came on one of the many nature shows we watched like "Wild Kingdom." She would even tape or staple the pages together of our Ranger Rick magazine if there happened to be a snake article - I have an incredibly vivid and amusing memory of that!

While not as extreme as my mom - I could watch them on tv, see them in books, look at them in the zoo or if a handler was showing a snake, I still shrieked and ran when I saw them in the wild. Tiny, little harmless snakes. I must say that surprised the heck out of my kids when they first saw that reaction out of me. They never see me scream or show fear like that. I tend not to be a person given to extremes and this was clearly an extreme.

My oldest, who must have been 6 years old at the time, tried to comfort me. With his hand patting me he said, "It's ok, mommy. It's just a little snake. He's really little. He's going away." Boy, does that make you feel silly! But proud too that you raised a compassionate human being who stepped up when he saw someone else needed strength and comfort.

I suspect it started that day, but in the years since I've come to kind of a truce with snakes. If we keep to our own spaces and there is no surprise appearances directly underfoot, I can get by. No more shrieking or running. I can even watch them in the wild, at a polite distance though!

This spring we figured out that garter snakes like to use an area at our place, which is one of the many old hand-dug wells on the property, for a winter denning spot. From what we saw, we guessed maybe a dozen snakes had been woken by our unusually warm early spring weather. My children loved the show the snakes put on. The slither this way or that around the old well. My youngest remarked that, "Nature is amazing!" She surely is.

I snapped a few pictures of our legless visitors. I share two below - saved for the last in case you too are like my mom and can't stand to even see pictures of them. Since snakes also have their place in the world, I hope you can find your truce with them as well.


The biggest of the garter snakes we saw - compare to the dandelion leaves
Some were more brown in color

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