So, I have a fear of snakes. And I don’t mean that I don’t like them and a get a little squeamish, I mean I have a legitimate phobia of snakes. Full on panic attack if I see one. Even pictures of snakes make my palms sweat and I have to take a few deep breaths.
And Thursday, the thing that I have been fearing all along finally happened: I saw a snake in the garden.
I thought that I saw him the day earlier, when I glimpsed something black and shiny and rounded struggling in the netting that we put up around the blueberries. I hightailed it out of there IMMEDIATELY when I saw it, because I knew if I actually saw a full on snake I’d lose it, and at that point I also thought it may have been a turtle (he was in a shadow, and at the base of some other plants, so pretty well hidden). Then on Thursday afternoon when I got home I was walking past the berry patch to the garden and I was looking toward that shady spot at the bottom of the net, just in case. As I was looking something caught my eye and I looked down towards my feet and not two feet away from me was the snake. And he was BIG. (God, even writing about this is making me shake a little bit.)
In the .02 seconds between my eyes seeing him and my brain screaming “SNAAAAAAAAAAAKE! YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!” I started running. Heedlessly, as I realized when I was about 20 feet away from him and regained control of my legs, since I ran RIGHT through my patch of baby okra and swiss chard plants, smashing several of them into oblivion. I stopped, turned around to see him still there and partially hidden in the grass and just started sobbing uncontrollably, because that is a useful response to certain death. Thanks a lot, EVOLUTION!
I kinda stood there for a little bit not knowing what to do when my boyfriend called and talked me down from being absolutely hysterical and unable to breathe. I walked out through the back of the garden and around the OTHER side of the house to get to the porch where I finally collapsed on the stairs and shook and cried for about 15 minutes before I was able to breathe calmly again. OF COURSE, I did not go back out to the garden for quite some time, but when Ann got home later that day I told her what happened. And then I found out that her daughter had come by that morning and seen him too. In the same place. Curious.
Once the sun went down, and I was certain he had gone back to the mouth of hell (which must be where he lives), I went back out to the garden (the long way, of course- avoiding the berry patch) because I had ripe Sungolds and I couldn’t NOT pick them! Also I was trying really, really hard to be brave when all I really wanted to do was just light the whole garden on fire and never, ever, ever go back out there again. Ann was sitting on the porch of the house as I was picking the tomatoes (far, far away from the snake side of the garden) and as I looked over in the direction of where I had seen him, I could still see a telltale divot in the grass, and what looked like the smooth, shiny ridge of a snake spine. Now I know enough about snake behavior to be pretty sure that if a snake is almost stepped on by a screaming adult, he isn’t likely to stay around, so I called out to Ann (remarkably calmly, considering…) “I think he might still be here…” She came down off the porch with a garden tool (I can’t remember which one) and walked over to where I was pointing and said “Yep, that’s a snake. And wow- a big one! I think he’s dying…”
I didn’t care to look, so inside I went. The next morning she went out and he was still laying there, this time with flies buzzing around him, certainly dead. Still too scared to go anywhere near him (I KNOW! It’s a phobia, ok? Nothing rational going on in the old grey matter here…) I called over a friend to dispose of him, and he was deposited somewhere far, far away where I will hopefully never come across him.
So, a happy ending, right? (Well, for me at least- not so happy for the snake) Except now the neuroses are kicking in and I can’t go near the berry patch without my chest hurting. I was out there yesterday trying to pick some blueberries and I heard a rustle in the raspberries and next thing I knew my legs had carried me 30 feet away without any active input from me.
Sigh…what a frustrating phobia for a gardener. What I wouldn’t give to trade it in for a fear of heights or crowds or something…
(And yes, I know it wasn’t poisonous and I know they are useful and they eat rats and all that stuff. Rationally, I get all of that. I can list off all the reasons why I shouldn’t be afraid. And listen, I grew up in the woods of Alabama where there are about 17 varieties of snake that will kill you as soon as look at you and some of them will even open your doors and crawl in your bed and BITE YOU IN THE FACE (or something like that…) and this wasn’t one of those snakes. I KNOW! If you are about to tell me why I shouldn’t be afraid, I invite you to go to Wikipedia and look up the term “phobia.”)