Snake Charmers: Drawn to Danger

As an adventurer, I love nature hikes. This all began a few weeks ago, when my power-walker gal pals and I were striding through the hills of San Juan Capistrano, when suddenly my friend struck out her arm to stop me. "Listen!" She exclaimed. The rattling sound was so loud that I thought someone had turned on the sprinklers. This was dumb, as we were far from civilization: no sprinkers here! Holding our breath, our eyes darted and quickly spotted a very thick three-foot-plus rattler crossing the dirt trail just in front of us. Loud was his warning: stay back! And we did. Very excitedly, however, as it was a very loud rattling. That sent us into spasms of chatter for the rest of the hike. It was quite breath-taking.


This last Sunday, it happened again. We were on a family Father's Day six-mile-hike in the canyons above El Moro by Corona Del Mar, our little band of five grand girls and three adults was walking along enjoying the ocean views when there it was, a very much alive, very long, rattle snake in the middle of our trail. We stopped, took our time, each of us planning our strategy for scooting past it. Once safely out of danger, we began to admire it from a few feet away. My son Rick pulled out his cell phone camera took its photo, and then I had the idea of being in the photo with the snake! That started it: we all posed with it! I cannot help but laugh at how quickly I have become charmed by these long scary fellows.


In between these encounters, a week ago, I was in my garage at home when I looked down to see a little baby rattlesnake near my feet. It was not moving. I did not freak out, as I called to husband Ken. "Hey, Ken, there is a baby rattler in here, I am pretty sure it is dead." We have lived in snake country for 40 years and Ken teases me for assuming that all snakes are rattlers! So with a cynical expression painted on his face, he came to check out my situation. His tone was derisive as he pronounced, "It is a lizard!"

Now, I admit we are at the grandparent stage of life, which is pretty funny in itself, however we have not both lost it! I grew more certain that the beheaded thing was in fact a baby rattlesnake. I responded, "Ah dude, here put on my glasses!" With glasses on, Ken now examines the critter and finally agrees, "Yeah, it is a rattler. Watch the cats today." With that he went back to whatever he was doing. I was left thinking, Hey wait a minute! (This was clearly a "husband" job!) "Honey will you get rid of it for me?"


A little later he comes into the kitchen and warns, "Donna you are going to have to learn how to do these things yourself, and to change light bulbs for when I am gone..."


"Where are you going? I asked, knowing the rest of his warning. "You are even off your blood pressure medicine. The doctor gave you a good report!"


He responded, "I know, I am just saying..."


This is a truly weird stage of life! Anyway, I have been thinking: what is it about danger that so attracts us, that takes our breath away? We humans are drawn to speed, to roller coasters, to fire, to adventure, and apparently the thrill of being near poisonous snakes! I wrote this before my morning walk today and darned if I did not see another long diamond backed snake, but I saw no rattles and I dared not get too close...