Alexa and I got the scare of our lives Friday. It involved the thing I’m most scared of in this world (hissssssss).
I noticed her at the sliding doors in our home office. She’s a totally fearless cat, so her odd, sort of frightened demeanor freaked me out immediately. It was also weird that she was looking upward – as in about 4 feet off the ground. Oddly enough, I never even suspected a human. We live sort of out in the country, so I knew it was an animal (or bird) of some sort. Problem was, Alexa has never shown any fear toward birds or any of our other frequent visitors (rabbits, raccoons, possums, skunks, cats…) She even saw a coyote (through a window) once and just bugged out a little.
But this time, she was sort of transfixed, almost frozen – yet she was trying to back away. I oh so carefully walked over, bent down to her level (while baby talking her, of course – she loves that stuff), and followed her gaze.
AAAUUUUGHHHH!!!! You’ve heard of a rebel yell? I gave a “Kill me now” yell. This thing was quite big – and had slithered up the bricks, cut over sideways and presently was jutting it’s ugly face toward the glass, all the while sticking out its God-forsaken tongue.
My daughter (Stephany) and her boyfriend (Rusty) were in the driveway, getting ready to go somewhere. Being the brave person that I am, I went for their help. I knew they’d get a thrill or two out of it – they love the Animal Planet channel and watch it religiously. In fact, they’d just left the living room where they’d been “visiting” with bears.
My brave little Stephany stayed on the safe side of the glass doors with me and Alexa, while Rusty got a huge stick and got the snake down. She got her camera to “capture” the drama as it unfolded!
Even though I’m scared to death of the vile things (snakes, not Rusty and Steph), I was honestly very impressed with the way Rusty handled the situation. He never (not once) was agressive toward the snake or even gave it cause to think it was in danger. Granted, my brain was thinking, “Club it! Kill it! Destroy it! Make it wish it’d never been hatched!” – but the snake was very lucky that Rusty has a respect for all living things, even snakes. If it had been poisonous, it would have met a different fate.
He “led” the snake away from the wall and the windows – for which all of us females were grateful. He even let it all seem like it was the demon’s idea. He sort of coaxed it with the stick – it kept “feeling” for the stick with its black tongue. Gross! Sorry, that just slipped out. When he got it to an open area, he gently touched it’s back (?) with the stick a few times. It kind of got into a little coiled heap (ugly) and Rusty put the stick down. I love the kid, but I thought he’d lost his mind entirely when he made his next move. He reached down, grabbed the thing close to the head (so he wouldn’t get bitten), while holding it’s tail end with the other hand.
The whole time, Steph and I were afraid that Rusty was about to face a certain death, but Rusty seemed to like the fool thing. He kept talking to it. I’m pretty sure that IF I ever did speak to one, it’d be through screams and possibly even profanity. Rusty spoke to it calmly, though. Then he took it to a field and let it go.
In all honesty, watching the whole thing actually made me a little less afraid of snakes. I have no intention of ever befriending one, mind you, but I think it and Rusty both handled themselves remarkably well. And I’m struck by the fact that Rusty wasn’t the least bit scared the whole time. He treated it the same way I’ve always treated stray animals when they make their way onto our property. I, of course, go way out of my way not to scare them and I always do what I know is best for the animal. He did the exact same for the snake.
This experience showed me that snakes are simply wildlife, too. Like the raccoons and possums I leave food out for and joyfully watch, rabbits I toss carrots to, and birds I feed every day – they’re pretty helpless in a lot of ways.
I even thought one was kind of cute one time. My husband, knowing my intense phobia, has often tried to expose me to them – in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I’d become a little more reasonable. The first time he ever took me near them, it was in a Snake House in a zoo in Kansas. The minute I saw one, I ran (not walked) out of there, screaming the whole time.
Calm. Cool. And oh so collected.
Fast forward about 10 years and we were in a pet store. Behind the glass were some of these things. One was curled up in what appeared to be a dog’s food dish. I said, “That’s cute.” Of course, I immediately turned and walked away, but at least I didn’t find it totally vile.
I’m still mystified by Alexa’s reaction. I just don’t think she knew what to make of it. She was actually born outside (her mother was the very essence of a wild cat… and I still miss her), and until I brought my baby girl inside, she lived outdoors. So, I’m pretty sure she’d seen snakes before. But she seemed completely out of her element and was very unAlexa-like.
Hopefully another one of those unwelcome visitors will never come calling again. She and I still go to the glass doors and peek out, like, a couple of billion times a day – sighing with relief when the only thing on the patio are cardinals, furniture and a grill. The things that belong there!