Growing up on a 300-acre farm had it's advantages. With both farm fields and woods on the property, we got to experience all types of wildlife up close and personal from the cows and sheep that my Dad raised, to the fox, opossum, turtles, deer, snakes and other creatures that made their appearance either in the yard or from a distance in one of the many outlying areas. You never knew just what you would run into while outside in the country.
One thing was for certain though, my mother was scared to death of snakes. I'm not talking your normal fear, where you let out a shriek at the sight of one slithering past in the lawn, I mean a full fledged paranoia, where she would shove children to the ground to flee from the area before anyone else.
My dad used to tell my mom not to worry about encountering snakes in our yard because they did not travel across the highway. Although we lived in such a rural setting, which would be a prime place for snakes to enjoy life sunning themselves in the many fields or barnyards, my mom somehow believed this horrendous tale and was never in fear of meeting up with a snake, even though she filled all of her spare time working in her many gardens that surrounded the house. So, we were told as kids that if we were outside and saw a snake to keep it under wraps from my mom, who would probably never go in that yard again, if she knew. With that said, the entire 18 years that I lived in that house, I think that between my sister and I, we only saw a snake a couple of times. Honestly there was just not a lot of them around, lucky for my mother.
Now I hate to say that my dad was right with his obnoxious tale, but I now live on the other side of the highway and have a huge snake population in every portion of my yard. It is horrible. As a kid I was never afraid of them, like my mom, but they just startled me, never knowing that they were there until you are right on top of one.
Just last week I was out working in my flower bed, trying to clean all of the perennials out for the spring, and suddenly with no warning, all of the leaves around my feet started moving and out shot a snake, making it's way into my tall ornamental grass clump, right next to where I was working. It scared me so badly that I started screaming 'snake' on the top of my lungs. Now, although all five members of my family were watching television in the living room, located directly next to my garden that I was working in at the time, none of them came to my rescue. Lucky for me it was just a Gardner snake and not a rattler or something because I could have perished and probably no one would have even noticed until dinner time when they got hungry! I instantly deemed this garden as Doug's responsibility from this moment forward and moved to a different location to work, keeping my eye out for more slithering friends.
A few years ago I will never forget my snake experience in my garage. In the back of the garage, where the pool pump tubing comes in through the ground, we had two snakes living. I had no idea that they were even there and one day I innocently came into the garage to turn the pool pump on for the day. I think that I was wearing my bathing suit and was barefoot at the time, so I was perfectly ready for a snake encounter. NOT! I remember turning the knob on the pump and looking down to see two of the biggest snakes that I have ever laid my eyes on. They were brown and all coiled up together in a ball. It brought the term terror to a whole new level for me, who instantly shot out of the garage, screaming for my life.
Come to find out later that the snakes were milk snakes and everyone told me that they are perfectly harmless and are good for the environment because they take care of the mouse population. Personally I am not a huge fan of mice either, but I would much rather that they took up residency in my garage than this slithering duo. In fact I was so horrified by this revelation that I made Doug move my car out of the garage and I parked in the driveway, at a safe distance from their snake home, for the remainder of the summer months.
Since that time I have had countless interactions with snakes. I'm not sure why but it seems like I see more and more of them each spring and summer. One year when we were having a pool party, Doug went outside right before everyone was to arrive, and was sweeping the cement area around the pool. I was out there watering my flowers and making sure that everything looked good for our guests, and suddenly a snake shot out from under the pool fence and started slithering across the cement. I was once again horrified because I thought that this was my one safe zone. The funny part was that Doug was trying not to panic and was leading it out of the pool area and as soon as it was fully in the grass, we heard my mom's voice calling out that they had arrived. We both laughed knowing that if she had only been there two minutes earlier, she would never have come outside for the party that day.
I'm not sure if the snake population is growing yearly, or if they have just taken a liking to my property, but I'm ready for them to move on. Suddenly it does not seem so funny about how we laughed at my mom's fear so much as kids. But then again you know what they say, eventually we all turn into our mothers, so I guess it was just in the cards for me.