Wednesday Vignette – beyond the startle of the surprise…

I have always had the most intense snake phobia. Ridiculous, I know – I have been known to drop books and scream if I was surprised by a photo of a snake in it. If you are the same way, consider this your heads-up. This week’s vignette is about a snake. Not the dangerous kind, mind you, but still – it can creep you out. This one appeared sunning itself on one of the tables at the nursery. If I had been the one to discover it, this story would probably have been different. As it were, I had fair warning, and could steel myself. Preparedness is everything..

Some pretty spectacular markings on this garden variety Garter snake.

The sheer length of it, made us decide that it was probably a female. I learned they are usually larger than the males.

Trying to figure out if she should be scared of us, or just annoyed.

Feeling conflicted. “Should I stay, or should I go…?”

I shot some video too. The way she moved was so elegant, I was trying to get it on film. PETA may have to forgive me my vain attempt at getting her to do so, by tossing some gravel at her…

Here she has decided that she is done with me…

Our parting image. Trying to hide among the Clematis pots, she gives me a curious glance, if not somewhat resigned. As in “Why are you following me?” After this, I left her alone.

It may not seem like it, but this was a major milestone in my life. Granted, it was a harmless variety of snake of which presence I was pre-warned.  I’m both bigger, clumsier, and stronger than she is, but I have never before had the guts to be that close to a snake in the wild. At the end of the afternoon, she had become kind of a nursery mascot, and we named her Lucy.

Not sure how to explain this sudden change of behavior on my part. I have long rationalized all the benefits of snakes – rodent control, slug control, what have you, to no effect – I have still have always had that totally irrational fear of them. I wouldn’t say this incidence cured me of my phobia, but it was a major step on the way toward more rational behavior. (Peter Outlaw – you were there, and witnessed how calm and collected – albeit excited – I was.) Maybe I’m just getting older, and realizing that there are worse things to be scared of. As the news constantly remind me – hate, intolerance, pride, greed, and stupidity is where it’s at – not with the critters alive and well in our gardens. As an affirmation of Benevolence over Bullying, this is the kind of snake that I would much rather have in the Oval Office than the one that is there now.

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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20 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – beyond the startle of the surprise…

  1. I grew up with rattlesnakes. When you’re a kid, the oldest kid, who still isn’t old enough to drive and you’re the one responsible for your little brothers after school…well that’s a terrifying thought. What if!? And we walked home through a rocky area where snakes were known to live. And there were bullsnakes too, which look just like rattlers, only when they coil and shake their tail there’s no noise. So that’s my long way of saying I get it. I don’t know what changed for me, maybe being an adult? I no longer feel complete terror at the word. I don’t even mind seeing them in person…not that I want to encounter a rattler anytime soon…

    My non-moving, WV….http://www.thedangergarden.com/2017/05/wednesday-vignette-sedum-table.html

    • annamadeit says:

      Yikes – just thinking about what you had to do as a kid, gave me shivers… I would have been absolutely terrified! I figured out a while ago, that the snakes that scare me most are the adders, rattlers, etc. – the ones with more equilateral triangular heads. For some reason, they appear more vicious than the ones with longer snouts. Lucy here looks almost kindly, in comparison…

  2. Alison says:

    As a gardener, I’ve had to overcome a fear of bees. Snakes that I know to be non-poisonous don’t frighten me, but the sudden appearance of a bee in the garden very close to me will always startle me (I would never kill one, though, but I do talk to them — i.e., “Go away!”) My son had a Burmese python when he was a pre-teen, a beautiful animal, but when she outgrew her enclosure we sold her to a collector. I know I could not be a gardener if I lived in the South, where there are so many poisonous snakes.

    Oh, BTW, here’s my WV, also an animal, but not a wild one: http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2017/05/wednesday-vignette_31.html

    • annamadeit says:

      I think I could eventually get used to garter snakes, but I know I couldn’t live in places with dangerous ones. I don’t mind either bees or spiders, or any other insects either, luckily – although I do fear what ticks can bring. I imagine if I was allergic to bees, I would sing a different tune. But, by now my greatest fear has become the stupidity and shortsightedness of humans. Good thing I have a garden in which to calm down when it gets too bad…

  3. Kris P says:

    Congratulations Anna! I’m impressed that you faced your phobia head-on like that. I wouldn’t say I have a phobia about snakes but I’m still inclined to drop whatever I’m doing and scoot off in the opposite direction when I encounter one (which isn’t often). I’d probably be more inclined to stay put if I trusted my ability to distinguish between those that are poisonous and those that aren’t. Lucy is a pretty snake – and very tolerant of humans, it appears.

    Here’s my more mundane WV: https://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2017/05/wednesday-vignette-lion-roars.html

    • annamadeit says:

      Right? I was really proud of myself – even though it might seem like a minor achievement to most. She was beautiful, wasn’t she? Haven’t seen her since…

  4. Eve says:

    Anna, are you aware that we have a pet snake? Mango is a lovely orange and red corn snake, with a black and white checkerboard tummy. A completely delightful creature, very mellow and just fantastic from a sensual and aesthetic standpoint. I cordially invite you to visit whenever you want to take the next step in your journey to acceptance. He has converted many ophidiophobics!

    • annamadeit says:

      You know, I think I remember that from a previous visit. Yes, both sensually aesthetically, they are fabulous creatures. While my lifelong fear is completely irrational, I think I’ll do it in baby steps – look first, touch later. I’ll bet you anything that I became snake dinner in a previous life. There simply isn’t any other good explanation for such an irrational fear. 🙂

  5. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I love seeing snakes behind glass at zoos but would not want to come across one of those huge ones in the wild. It’s not the animal itself that frightens me (well the poisonous ones, yes) but that they can startle you with their seemingly sudden appearance. It was very exciting to see this beautiful snake with you and I had no idea that you had a phobia at all. Good for you! You got some really nice shots of Lucy! Her appearance was a highlight as I haven’t seen a snake in the wild in years!

  6. Mark and Gaz says:

    Handsome chap, but yes snakes are not one for surprising..

  7. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening! says:

    Congrats for turning the corner — we snake lovers welcome you! (too soon?)
    Also pedantic note: the “bad” snakes are “venomous”. 🙂

    • annamadeit says:

      Ah, but of course! Somewhere deep in my brain, I knew that. Thanks for the correction, Alan! I’m not quite a snake lover yet, but I do appreciate their sensuous beauty.

  8. Evan says:

    Congratulations! That’s great that you were able to get so close and stay to capture so many images, and even two videos, of this beautiful snake. That is a fairly large garter snake, and very brightly colored. Nice find!

  9. hb says:

    Congrats on getting a bit out of the comfort zone. Perhaps Lucy has gone off with Ricky.

    I’m not a big snake fan, either. The lizards are just a whole lot less scary. At the Desert Museum near Tucson there is a room full of snakes. There is thick glass between you and each and every snake–but I left quickly–couldn’t take it. I noticed the humans in the room were mostly young boys of all ages. That night, I dreamt of snakes.

    • annamadeit says:

      I agree – lizards are much nicer! I always have to steel myself when entering terrariums. Definitely not my favorite place, even though some of them are arguably beautiful. Sorry you had a snake dream. Those are scary…

  10. Tina says:

    Loved this set of shots and also, your admission to squeamishness regarding those of this reptile sorts. I like snakes, though for the few that I’ve held (mostly of the tiny garden variety), I’m always astonished at how powerful is their musculature. I guess they need those muscles for all that slivering.

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, they move with astonishing speed. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how they propel themselves forward, but I imagine it must be some kind of muscular contraction that forces them forward. Fascinating creatures, but I’m far from ready to hold one – at least yet. Baby steps…

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