Thursday, September 27, 2018


I have an unreasonable fear of snakes. 

I don’t know when I acquired this, but I’ve had this fear for as long as I can remember. I am not afraid of many things on this dear ol’ earth, in fact, I can only think of two things: snakes and climbing down onto what I perceive as an unstable surface. Such as a ladder from a roof. But more about that another day, maybe.

In the meantime, we’ll talk snakes.

When I was a little girl, maybe six or seven, I was chased by my younger brother with a snake. It was a huge snake, long, black and horrible-looking. I remember running for my life, sobbing the entire time, my heart pounding in terror. It seemed like we ran for hours. I was exhausted. I don’t know why David quit chasing me. He was having such a good time, laughing so hard he could barely breathe. Maybe that’s why he finally quit: he was just out of breath. At any rate, when all was said and done, it turned out that it was only a rubber snake. If I hadn’t been so winded, I would have killed him on the spot.

In the summertime we would play in the state park, running after dark over the undulating grounds. How we did it, I really don’t know. When I walk across that rippling expanse of grass in the picnic area at Hartford Beach State Park these days, I marvel at the way we used to run across it at night, in total darkness, and not fall down. But run we did. At breakneck speeds. Until the streetlights at Mom and Dad’s resort went out (12:05 am) which meant it was time to go home. 

I vividly remember a dream I had one night, of the grass in that park being full of garter snakes. Millions of them. I couldn’t get away. The fact that I still remember that childhood dream all these years later is a testimony to how powerful it was.

Now I realize this fear is totally senseless. We have no poisonous snakes in our area. The harmless garter snakes that live around here and scare the bejeebers out of me are really quite innocuous and they are without doubt a benefit to our environment. But every time I see one, even a dead one, I get the heebie-jeebies. In fact, I can’t even see a picture of one without getting the shivers.

When I was a high school student, a snake handler came to our school and presented a program. Of course he asked for volunteers to come to the front and hold the snakes. And of course I was quick to raise my hand. So up I went and not only touched the big, venomous snakes, but held them, had them draped over my shoulders, the whole bit. I was perfectly okay with all that. Apparently, being in front of a group of people with a serpent professional made it non-scary.

Fast-forward to my adult years. I was mowing the lawn one day, back when I was still allowed to use the riding lawn mower, and there was a snake in the grass. Eek! I promptly stuck both feet straight out to the sides and changed course. Then it occurred to me, “That snake probably can’t get me up here on the lawnmower.” I gingerly returned my feet to the platform.

I’m out talking to Tim in the driveway and he tells me to look the other way. Of course, I know that means there is a snake nearby. As I turn away, I catch sight of it. I do the heebie-jeebie dance as I move away. Tim catches the snake and flings it as far as he can into a neighboring field. (Now that’s love.)

Mice? They’re cute. Spiders? Not my favorite, but whatever. Lizards? No big deal. Snakes? Well, let’s just say that if I had been Eve, there would have been no Original Sin.

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