This may be the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, but with the heat wave we’ve had, I’d dub it Year of the Snake. Snakes love hot weather. They love to lie around in the driveway and warm up, and when they get too warm, they retreat to the cool shade of the lawn. I’ve seen several this summer.
And have I mentioned that I HATE snakes? I do. I really hate them. Just thinking about them sends a shiver up my spine. It’s not that I’m afraid they’re going to hurt me. I know what I’ve read about garter snakes, the kind I see around here: they won’t hurt you; they’re more afraid of you than you are of them; they’re good for the garden, eating pests that would otherwise munch on the vegetables, etc. But that doesn’t change the almost primal reaction I have when I see one. More accurately, that reaction happens when I see one by surprise. If I spot one from a distance—heading away from me—I’m fine. But if one slithers out in front of me I let out a scream that would curdle blood and jump like a startled jackrabbit.
So what is it I don’t like about them? Their faces, for one thing. With their slanty eyes, nostril dots, and frozen smile (or is it a grimace?), their faces look evil, like something straight out of a horror movie. I think their movement borders on being something that’s beautiful and fluid … and something that’s just creepy. I’m leaning toward creepy. (Isn’t that why they call it slithering?)
Just this week I saw four, the last one right out in the open next to a planter near the back door. I screamed and jumped before my conscious thoughts even registered “snake!” I ran into the house and looked at it from the safety of the back door. It wasn’t moving, despite my screaming and jumping, so I thought it might be dead and went to get my husband, the rodent and reptile remover, to take care of it. I returned to the back door just in time to see it slithering away behind the planter. Ugh. Now don’t get me wrong—I would never want to kill a snake. My intellect understands their value and doesn’t really want them dead. But my gut wants them away from me—far, far away.
Have you ever seen those thermal imaging cameras used by hunters at night to track deer and other animals? I often imagine that if such a camera could detect cold-blooded creatures like snakes and I tried it out here, I’d find the place was crawling with them. And that would be more than I’d want to know.