Friday, September 10, 2010

I Saw a Snake...

...and I didn't freak out.  Well, not much anyway.  Maybe just a little bit.  On the inside.  On the outside, I was pretty calm.

This is huge for me.  HUGE.  My (strange, disproportionate, irrational) fear of snakes is well-documented in this blog, so for me to react even somewhat normally to seeing a snake is a major victory.  Maybe it even falls in the category of "Miraculous"!  :)

It happened on Monday--Labor Day--a day of beautiful, sunny weather, just right for a little family outing.  After tossing around various options, we decided to hike Mole Hill as a family.  Despite growing up just a few miles from it, I had never climbed Mole Hill before; and although I've heard Jeff talk about his excursions there, I wasn't familiar with the terrain and the length of the hike.

But we set off optimistically, with our child-carrier backpack that we planned to use for Shav.  I thought Tobin would love the chance to walk and climb and explore and be a little adventurer.  I knew we weren't in a hurry, so if it took him a long time to hike up Mole Hill, it would be fine.  No pressure, no stress, no rush.  Just a nice, peaceful hike with the family.

We set off, with Jeff carrying Shav in the carrier on his back.  I was the cows' tail, bringing up the end of our procession with Tobin close by.

Almost immediately, Tobin asked to be carried.  What's up with that?  Here was his chance to roam freely, and he wants to be carried?  "Oy," is what he says when he wants to be picked up; and "oy" is what I was thinking.  Oh, vey!  How are we going to handle this?  He's much too big and heavy and the climb is much too long for me to carry him in my arms the whole way.  We should have brought the Snugli for Shav and let Tobin use the carrier, but it was too late at that point.  What to do?

Jeff and I were trying to convince Tobin to walk, and Jeff had come back to where Tobin and I were lagging so that Tobin could hold his hand.  We had just completed the hand-off of Tobin from my hand to Jeff's when I saw it.

In the middle of the path, in some grass, exactly where Tobin had just walked, was a snake.

It was so directly in our way that I'm certain that Tobin either stepped on it or extremely close to it.

Just typing this makes me shiver.  It also makes me want to jump up and turn on all the lights in the room so I can look on the floor to make sure there are no snakes lurking about.  What was that about disproportionate, irrational fear?  ;-)

By the time I saw the snake and managed to squeak out, "SNAKE!", Jeff had already gotten Tobin part of the way up the trail; and he told Tobin to keep going, up to where Josiah and David were.  Tobin didn't really make it that far, but he was far enough along that I wasn't worried about him being in danger.  The other reassuring thing is that I could see immediately that the snake had a green stripe down its side; and although I don't know much about snakes (and don't have any desire to learn more!), I was fairly certain it was a harmless garter snake.  Although, as I've written before, I'm not sure how any snake can really be called harmless.  ;-)

At this point, I was thinking that the snake was almost certainly not poisonous...and of course, we weren't going to kill it...and wasn't I doing a good job of dealing with the situation?  There was just one problem:

I was on the other side of the snake from the rest of my family, and I had to get around it somehow.  How to do that?  Get a running start and jump over it as fast and high as I could?  Go off the path into the woods (where there were probably more snakes slithering along) to get around it?  Turn around and go down to the minivan and sit in it until the males in my family finished their hike?  ;-)

Fortunately, My Knight in Shining Armor was there to lend confidence to me, and I think he even said something encouraging, although I can't remember what.  I was able to make a (rather wide) detour around the snake, and then on up the path I went.  My heart was beating a little extra quickly; but in all honesty, my reaction was the most sensible, sane, laid-back response I've had to a snake since we've lived here.  Do you think God arranged for that little ol' snake to be there in the path, just so I would be confronted with it and realize that it wasn't as dreadful as my mind has imagined all snakes to be?

I came home feeling rather good about all of this.  Then I made the mistake of googling "garter snake" so I could make sure that what we saw was one of them.  That was an awful decision.  I could not handle seeing image after image of various snakes, stretched out, coiled, big, small, close-up, far-away, and on and on.  It was horrid, and I began to feel sick.  I did the only sensible thing I could do:  clicked the "x" and got off that screen as fast as I possibly could!

Is it any surprise that for the next two nights, I dreamed about snakes?

For the record, we didn't see any more snakes on the seemed like a long and hot climb to the top, especially because I was carrying Shav in my arms for most of the way because Jeff was carrying Tobin in the backpack carrier...but the best part was plopping down on the ground--after I checked carefully for snakes, of course--when we finally reached the summit (that makes it sound really high, doesn't it?  it's not) and resting while Jeff peeled some peaches he had brought along in the pocket of the carrier.  He handed them to us, one slice at a time, and the sweet, juicy goodness refreshed me tremendously.

Oh, the other best part was passing the spot where we saw the snake and making it all the way back to the minivan without seeing our little slimy friend enemy.  ;-)


bekahcubed said...

Yay for you! You're conquering this fear, bit by bit.

mamajil said...

I so get the fear of snakes!! :)
Just today I had to walk to the back of our 11 acres and the pasture really needed to be mowed....I kept looking around as I stomped up to the back barn/shed. Some one once told me if you stomp it scares the snakes away NOT sure if they were pulling my leg but I was sure stomping today!!