I am not a fearful or over-anxious person by nature, but snakes, especially deadly ones I tend to be a bit sensitive about, giving them a healthy radius of space, as long as I know they're there. While out in the high desert, and while spending weeks out on the range in sweltering hot weather, I was quite comfortable relaxing out of my usual protective desert wear, and instead in shorts, tank top, and sandles. NOW, sitting here and out of the intense mind-bending subjection of the blazing sun, but in my comfortable and air-conditioned room... I could ascertain that it was most certainly the influence of the solar rays penetrating my numbscull and frizzing the ends of my synapses that made me lose any recollection of my senses.
I've always heard and was certain since I was a kid, that there were those slithering desert critters that keep a lookout specifically for people that let down their guard and wear flip-flops. But with all sensibilities evicted and nowhere in sight, under the intense solar influence and simmer grey-matter, I bucked my sensibilities and wandered about the sagebrush desert seeking out petroglyphs, and searching for signs of wild horses. And it was just as my parched eyes spuinted at a mirage of mustangs running free in the distance, is where I came to meet my antithesis. All my sensibilities came flooding back to me as I was painfully aware of my nearly bare feet, and innate fear took over. There on the otherside of the boulder in the shade under the sagebrush lay coiled and waiting a rattler sounding his distinct warning, not more than two feet from my quaking and nakedly vulnerable feet!
As beautiful and charming as this handsome critter was, my jaw dropped. I felt stunned.... and for a very brief moment speechless along with the odd sensation of feeling "frozen in place". I was standing at a large boulder Native Americans used hundreds of years ago during gathering rituals. There were also old tee-pee rings and other artifcacts in the area. My instinct was dead-on to back away undetected, that is until I backed into prickly rabbitbrush ... Surprised but unscathed by this assault, I continued my retreat sideways... but a wild hair unravelled and couldn't leave the scene without reaching in long-armed with a camera and taking at least one quick picture for documentation! (I have to look for it, and add it to this post).
Having 'rattler' on the brain and not letting it out of my sight as I said a silent prayer, when all of a sudden from my peripheral vision comes another snake quickly toward me from another direction. I screamed and jumped (luckily that didn't cause the coiled rattler to 'spring into action'), thinking it was another diamondback! Now, I'm not the kind to scream and jump at the mere sight of a critter ... just was a tad on edge with the rattler, and seeing a slithering serpent aiming dead-on toward me... my basic brain-stem survival instinct kicked in and I just about jumped to the moon, but landed on prickly blumin' rabbitbrush. What it was, apparently was a bull snake, going after the rattler for his supper, and from all the commotion, startled the critter out from his cover... and of course toward ME! The feeling was not any less then intense.
When laughter from my companion brought me to my senses and happily realizing the second serpent, who I was certainly convinced was also after my nearly naked feet.... was merely a bull snake, I managed to bring myself back to earth, climbed out of the brush, trying to appear dignified and as if undaunted, replaying my favorite line "without fear there is no courage". And at least I was able to boast about the experience, WITH a photo image to support my claim!
Ah, good times.