Living with Nature – Snakes.

A  little creature that shares my world.

In most of my books, nature has a strong presence. It’s part of “write what you know,” and I often joke that I was raised by wolves. An exaggeration, but I was lucky enough to be brought up in the outdoors and feel quite comfortable in the woods.

Here’s a picture of my playpen, built by my dad out of sticks at the cabin overlooking Skylight Pond in Vermont.

When I was about 12 (and my brothers were 11 and 8), my parents used to drop us off on the Long Trail in the Green Mountains and pick us up three days later, fifteen miles down the path. We read maps, dealt with unexpected snow, built shelters, shooed porcupines from our food, and cut pine boughs for our beds.

1985 – On a month-long trek in Wyoming. I still have those clothes!

On other occasions, they’d leave us with the old canoe under a bridge (no life jackets back then) and pick us up miles downstream at the end of the weekend. It was a blast. It was normal. And somehow, we survived, even as our adventures increased in daring and duration as we aged.

Fast forward 25 years from those first independent forays into the wilderness: I married my husband, a man from Atlantic City, New Jersey. A city kid willing to brave country living for the sake of love. And, his encounters with wildlife make for endless comedy.

A few examples:

1 – Turtles. I’ve never seen a man run so fast as the first time he came across a big turtle on our hiking path. It was the size of a dinner plate. I pointed it out to him, mostly so he wouldn’t step on it. “Wow, look at that turtle.” He shrieked, hands flew up, and he ran down the trail in the opposite direction.

2 – Bugs. Tornado Boy was over last weekend, and he was expressing a lot of concern about spiders and bees. I called my daughter, “Are you and his dad teaching him to be afraid of bugs?” She denied any role in that behavior. Then I looked out the window and saw Grampy sprinting across the deck, swatting at an imaginary swarm of killer bees. “Never mind,” I told her.

3 – Snakes. We have lots and lots of little garter snakes around here. They’re about two feet long and not much thicker than a pencil (mostly). I try not to leave the doors of the house open because the hummingbirds fly in and can’t find their way out without help, which involves ladders.

A tiny thing that eats slugs, worms and insects.

But yesterday, I was gardening and left the door open for about 15 minutes. My husband came tearing out of the house in a panic because two snakes decided to take up residence. I found the smallest one quickly as it slithered away from me. I picked it up and let it go in the bushes. The second one was hiding.

After a short hunt, I dragged it out from behind the furniture and held it for him to see from where he stood thirty feet away in the front yard in case he needed to run. I let it go and twenty minutes it was back trying to get in the house again. No luck, the door stays closed.

Other Oregon wildlife to be scared of if you’re from the city: Slugs, bats, coyotes, salamanders, and large frogs. But that’s another story.

187 thoughts on “Living with Nature – Snakes.

  1. Such cool adventures. when i was a kid, my parents would let me and my older brothers – i have three – hike the tallest mountain in my town – in Rio de Janeiro. we’d leave at sunbreak and only return at sundown. i loved nature, though no snakes for me.
    in another thought, here in the middle east, we have a lot of these pencil thin snakes and last year one made inside the kitchen. it was my youngest, two year old at the time who found it by singing, “candy, grandma, look, candy.” i never bought them those jelly snakes again.
    thank you for going to the trouble to share this with me, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no! Candy snakes. Yikes! We don’t have any poisonous ones, or I’d be much more cautious. And I love it that you were free to hike the mountains as a kid. If I remember correctly, Rio de Janeiro has some tall peaks! What a beautiful city!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    Seen ’em all where we live, some in really close proximity. I have healthy respect and admiration for snakes – they are an important part of the ecosystem. We have copperheads and water moccasins around here, so you do have to be able to identify the dangerous ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mcaimbeul says:

    After 20 years living in the wilderness I’ve found that we fear what we don’t truly understand. Despite the myth, most things in nature aren’t out to get us. They’re actually busy taking care of business. A snake would much rather encounter a pack rat than us. I’ve come to appreciate their remarkable abilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree completely. I had a deathly fear of sharks for years and then learned to scuba dive as a cure. I learned that most sharks would rather not encounter humans. We had to chum the water to attract them before jumping in, or we’d never see them. 🙂 I spent years in bear country and never saw a bear! Bummer. These little snakes are nothing but gentle creatures who share our world. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome post! Loved reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tanya MacPherson says:

    I know it’s not as many as some people have but today my blog where i share my short stories hit 1000 views! I am so honoured to think 1000 people have read my stories. My New Years resolution was to get to 1000 views by 31st December so for it to happen by July I am utterly

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Grace says:

    I have zoo phobia but only for snakes. Can’t really see them. They make me feel wierd. Like I don’t what it is with them. Maybe the way they look. But scary like horror movies. 😣

    Liked by 2 people

  7. reocochran says:

    I was raised with two brothers,three in our “pack!” All of us born in four years, so close and enjoyed being my senior year in high school, Randy was in his junior year and Rich a freshman. We all played instruments, clarinet, cornet or trumpet and trombone in marching band.
    Anyway, I pick up critters, have caught bats with cooking mitts, snakes and turtles with bare fingers, lastly, I was the spider “queen” for over six years of older style, frontier scouting camp. 🐍 🐢 🕷 Maybe why you and I get along, although I didn’t get left in wilds, my parents let my friends and I at age 12 ride the bus for 50 cents to the Cleveland International Airport, take the Rapid Transit for possibly 50-75 cents to the Terminal Tower to hang out and spend time downtown in Cleveland, Ohio. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love it that you’re so comfortable with little creatures, Robin. And taking the bus and transit alone counts as an adventure – it’s all about what we grow up with. I was close in years to my brothers too – that makes for close friendships. How great that you all played in marching band!!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran says:

        It is nice to know about adventures of all kinds but yours sound wonderful to my old Science Club self! Your brothers and you had such awesome experiences, Diana.
        I think a sense of self confidence and self reliance was placed on both of us. Makes for independent people who may be strong-willed at times, (oh, speaking more about me than really knowing about this trait in you!)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Brave Lady. I won’t even go outside if there is a wasp hovering above the door.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. MG WELLS says:

    Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the post. Best wishes, MG.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this post :). People are usually scared about things they don’t know about, or don’t understand. I was very lucky to grow up with parents who loved the outdoors and wildlife. I could never understand the kids who would run away screaming from bugs… I would be following them, trying to learn their secret lives :D. It makes made happy to read the same of your childhood!

    Here is a little story from us: My partner, Tom (whom I co-write our blog with), and I worked for a season on a dairy farm. Our farm manager had two little girls who were absolutely terrified of anything that had more than four legs. So, every time we came across a critter, we would call them over and talk about it – What it was called, where it liked to live, what it liked to eat… we’d find it in the ID guide and read about it.

    After only a couple of visits to their house, the girls had lost their fear and were so excited about finding critters! They would have noted the locations of all of the house spiders and take us around to see them. They got their mum to ask us about insects they had found when we weren’t there, so she could report back. We actually bought them their own ‘Insects & Invertebrates ID Guide’ so they could find out on their own! Their little country school even modified their curriculum to include a project on ladybirds because the girls were so enthusiastic.

    It really doesn’t take much, does it? We love and have empathy for what we know. And, I’m sure this relates to more than just insects. There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. We all share this world together :).

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wonderful comment and I love your story about introducing the little girls to the fascinating lives of bugs. Ha ha. I do the same with my grandson (bugs, snakes, and other creatures) whenever we get the chance in an effort to counter Grampy’s panicked reactions :-). Farms are lovely places to learn about life. I’m so glad you also got to grow up with an appreciation of the world we share.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. pennygadd51 says:

    Lovely description! You’re very gentle with your husband’s apprehension. Your childhood sounds idyllic; such a shame we don’t allow children much freedom nowadays.
    Have you ever read ‘Swallows and Amazons’? It’s a children’s book, and it contains the memorable line (spoken by a father about his four adventurous children, who spend all their time in small boats on a big lake) “Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers, won’t drown”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Penny. I haven’t read the book, but I love the line. My mom was never comfortable with our forays into the wilderness, but it was how my dad grew up, and to him, it was just what kids did. Fortunately, none of us ended up as duffers! Ha ha. Have a lovely day ❤


  12. Wow, I can’t believe they tried to sneak out inside. you must be really careful about it. I dont imagine my self in the situation I’ll freak out haha!! but it looks so cute tbh, btw how can you hold it in your hands 😮

    Liked by 2 people

    • We don’t have poisonous snakes here. It would be totally different if that wasn’t the case. I hold them gently and they slither through my fingers. 😀 Thanks so much for visiting. Have a wonderful day.


  13. As a fellow New Jersey person, I sympathize with your husband. People from our state understand and take to heart that snakes do NOT belong in houses. The only appropriate reaction to finding one in a house is terror.

    As for the guy who ran from a turtle… well, I don’t know what the hell his problem was.

    On another note, I was entranced by the black and white photo at the top of your post. Please be aware, that is not a playpen, Diana; it is a North Vietnamese POW camp.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha ha. I’m back from vacation and you gave me my first laugh of the day, Mike. The playpen didn’t work for you, huh? And snakes…Believe it or not, while visiting my parents in CO, I had to remove a snake from their house too. I see a trend. Keep your doors closed this summer or else…


  14. You are so brave! haha

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I share your husband’s pain. Nothing in Ireland can kill you except losing the will to live because of the weather. When we’re faced with anything which has a 0.07% chance of being venomous, we have two defence mechanisms: petrification and running away. It’s just not dignified.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. shobhna says:

    HI Diana, I enjoyed reading your post and shared your experience with my family. My husband has wonderful childhood experiences spent outdoors. I have grown to be in harmony with nature as an adult including camping. Our first camping experiences were hilarious because of my lack of knowledge, skills, and fears. These days, I am cultivating my garden so garden snakes, salamanders, frogs hang about!! Excepts rats! Those I can do without. Thanks for sharing your joyful experiences! Have a wonderful week.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the great comment and for sharing the post with your family. I’m also slowly converting my gardens to be more “creature” friendly, especially for bees and butterflies. And this year, I’m stealing lawn from my husband to create a wildflower meadow. There’s something lovely about inviting life in its amazing variety into our habitats. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Aquileana says:

    Oh such great stories… I giggled as I read your post… The snakes weren´t that big… and yet… Your hubby was scared. But you know what?. We may all be afraid of certain animals, bugs… even turtles 😉 What I liked the most of this post was the anecdotical part involving your childhood… and how being outdoors influenced your writing in the sense that as you say nature has a strong presence in your books… That´s quite priceless, and a good legacy for sure! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Aquileana. It makes sense to be cautious around all animals, and I’ve been lucky to avoid any genuinely dangerous ones. Glad you enjoyed my childhood forays into the woods. They’re my favorite memories of my younger years. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Ohhh, thanks for the huge smile on this Tuesday morning. Your husband. So funny. I know Atlantic City well, since I spend glorious time every summer in Ocean City NJ, a mere 20 minutes away. No snakes there, and no frogs either. Just lots of sea gulls. Your childhood? These days, your parents would probably be accused of child abuse. What a difference a few decades make. Your photos are charming. As are you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Pam. I spent some time as a kid at Long Beach, NJ. They’re some awesome memories. My accounts of my husband’s dealings with wildlife aren’t exaggerated by much. He’s pretty hysterical, in both senses of the word. Ha ha. Yes, my parents would have be arrested if they’d done the Hansel and Gretel thing with us these days. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  19. 3rdofthe3rd says:

    What amazing adventures you have shared with us. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures and stories. I can only pray that when I have children they have adventures like these and not get caught up in the technology world too much.
    Keep Smiling.

    Liked by 4 people

    • When you become a parent, you will have the ability to find a good balance between the technological world and natural world. Your kids will appreciate the time to explore and discover and play. Thanks so much for visiting and the lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. It was really amazing to know the real life adventure of a writer

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the visit! These little glimpses into my life are just part of what feeds my stories. I think we all naturally draw on experience, so my stories, even though they’re fantasy, will have a bit of woods-lore and wilderness in them. It is fun to read and glean bits of the author in the details of the books. Have a great week!


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