"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rattlesnaking Along

I saw my first rattlesnake this weekend. Our family found a baby one, not quite a foot long, frozen in the middle of a fire road we were walking along. It was determined to pretend it was a stick and just stay there stiff and hopefully invisible. We gave it wide berth and tip-toed around behind it to continue on down the road and when we came back, it has disappeared into the safety of the grass or the rocks or wherever it is that a baby rattler runs when they are scared and done pretending they are a stick.

Its so interesting to live in a place with one venomous like this. Its a serious thing, and a real thing but I know panic doesn't help. Its tempting to be paranoid or fearful of the trails and the grass. I keep reminding myself that all things have their place and that this snake is fearful of me too. I am trying to teach the boys a respectful wonder of the animal. To learn to responsibly identify them, to know their use and value and to stay calm and gentle in their presence. Not that we are getting a lot of practice....we mostly see little fence lizards and harmless gopher snakes, but I practice the ideas with them.

Two of my boys are quite worried about snakes. One of them waffles between obsessed and fearful and the other is terrified and culturing the beginnings of a phobia. The other two are fascinated and oblivious.

Growing up, I was never super fond of them but felt they were kind of spooky, I'm sure partly influenced by my Papa's active terror of them. I never saw him run and scream, but I saw him blanch a few times and I never saw him touch one, or willingly be near a snake. The things we see rub off on us.

I am scared of bats myself....figure that one out. And leaches. And dead animals. Those three things don't make me scream, but they'll make me leave the room or avoid a creek or take a different route. I want to understand fear, feel it and learn that its just my body telling me that this thing makes me nervous, not necessarily actually saving my life. Tough to learn to master my own squeamishness and teach my boys that they can too. Little icks can destroy wonder and calm and our own larger understanding of the place of all things. Hoping this rattler is only my first brush. May there be more, may there be bats, may there be leaches....may I stand in the presence of the things that make me quake and learn to be still and brave and wise and come out whole.



  1. I have a similar response to spiders. Makes no sense, but there it is! Glad you're working on mastering your fears and helping your guys do the same!

    1. Yeah. I think these fears are taught to us. Good to think it through and try to grow though.

  2. I am catching up on your posts and have to say that bats and dead animals are some of my fears. A dead bird will make me dance away in discomfort. Yuk!