My first encounter with a snake this year was in Tennessee in April on my brother’s farm. I didn’t see it, mind you, but I heard its telltale rustle in the leaves on the other side of the fence as I walked the fence line on the front 10. I was proud of myself for not freaking out (or dwelling on what kind of snake it could have been, there in Tennessee), but I did step away from the fence a foot or two.
The Universe knows I hate snakes, yet seems to place them in my path at every opportunity—especially when the weather turns hot. I can’t say that I actually fear them (although there are definitely some snakes to be feared in Tennessee); I just really hate them, as I’ve said before. There’s something creepy and evil about them that makes my skin crawl. Maybe the Universe wants me to get over that?
Later, back in Massachusetts, while tending to some young chickens in a cage in the back yard, I saw a snake slither away from me, apparently from somewhere under or next to the cage. I didn’t scream, but I did gasp a little. Then I stood up and cursed it out as it slithered into the brush.
Not long afterward, as I walked behind the chicken coop to get eggs, I heard that telltale rustle again. I kept going and said, “Begone you little %@#$!”
I think that the sport of spooking me is becoming a little more of a challenge for the snakes. (The Universe must be proud.) I imagine that the snakes around here hang out together, and when they’re bored, one says to the others, “Want to see something funny? Watch this.” And then slithers out in front of me.
I admit that I’m still wary when I have to walk in tall grass or when I’m picking berries in the black raspberry patch. On those occasions I wear my ankle-high, leather Wolverine work boots—and I’m ready.
The other day I was walking Booker in the side yard, when suddenly his ears went up and he started lunging forward, looking at the ground. I looked and saw it—a little garter snake slithering in front of us, from where it was hiding in the clover ahead, which was just a little too high. (Must talk to my husband about that…) I uttered a small gasp and instinctively pulled the dog back, but I stood my ground. I could almost see the wheels turning in the reptile’s head. “What—no screaming? No jumping? Wonder what she’ll do if I just sit here, flicking my tongue in and out?” And it proceeded to sit on the edge of the driveway, doing just that. I picked up a small stick and threw it in the snake’s direction, but it didn’t move. Which one of us would move first?
Finally, the dog was getting antsy, so I walked him past the snake, down to the end of our long driveway. When we walked back, the snake was gone. Booker sniffed the area thoroughly, and I took a good look around, just to be sure. It was gone. Probably headed back to tell the other snakes they need to step up their game.