In a prior article I described my encounters with a small, docile type of snake that seems to have taken up residence in our yard. These snake encounters have been almost pleasant, if one would allow that the word “pleasant” could be rationally juxtaposed to the word “snake”. (Makes as much sense as “honest politician”, I suppose.)
But I have had other encounters with snakes that have been very scary. Three happened last century, (wow – that makes me feel old!), when I lived in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The first occurred one day when I was taking a walk at lunch. It was a fairly hot summer day, but I wanted to get out and clear my head a bit from a busy morning at work. Near our office building was a large pond that was lined on the nearest side with large, newly cut rocks. It wasn’t very easy to walk over them, but I wanted to see what was in the pond, so I cautiously started to make my way to the ponds edge. I had gotten about half-way to the pond when suddenly a large snake rose out of the rocks near me, looked at me for a brief instant, then shot off across the rocks away from me.
I was stunned. If that snake had a desire to come after me, there is no way I could have gotten away. In my haste I probably would have fallen, and twisted an ankle or struck my head on a rock. Yet this difficult terrain was ideal for a legless creature like that snake. I got out of there as fast as I safely could, and to this day stay away from rocky areas near bodies of water.
The second bad snake encounter took place on one of the Raleigh Greenways. These “Greenways” are urban/suburban/rural trails maintained by the city of Raleigh. They are usually paved, and oftentimes go through wooded areas.
We had been walking for a long time on a Greenway trail that mostly passed through a heavily wooded area, and had turned around to walk back to our car when we came upon an unwelcome sight. A large Copperhead was stretched across the trail. We had come this way probably 30 minutes prior, so he hadn’t been there long, and despite our shouts and gestures he seemed in no mood to move. We could have gone around him, and pushed our way through the brambles, mud, and thick vegetation off the trail, but we were both tired, and besides, this trail was for our use, not some stupid snake! So we threw rocks and sticks and pine cones at him, and eventually, with seemingly a great reluctance, the Copperhead slowly moved off the path.
The third bad snake encounter still creeps me out. We were in a swamp, in a canoe, and some idiotic snake came swimming across the water towards us and tried to climb up into our canoe! We successfully beat it away with our paddles, but if that stupid snake had managed to climb in, we both would have jumped out. Needless to say, I don’t go canoeing in swamps anymore!