The Queen of All Conniptions


It all started with a garter snake ©voyager, all rights reserved

I wasn’t going to tell you about this until I got back, but I could use some encouragement. On Monday I’m off on an adventure with a friend. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time and I think (I hope!) I’m finally ready. What could it be? Well, I’m off to make peace with snakes. I’ve written once about my fear of snakes, but I didn’t tell you how I came to be so afraid.

It started as an ordinary summer day when I was about 5 or 6 years old. We were living in the country and I loved to spend my days just wandering, collecting stones and wildflowers and watching the birds and the bees and the bugs. I was restricted to the field and small woodlot behind the house, but as long as I was home for lunch and dinner there weren’t many other rules, except one…don’t bring bugs home. No caterpillars, no crickets, no bugs of any kind. My mother was not an outdoors person and bugs were one of the main reasons why. She hated them. If a spider or some other buggy creature managed to get indoors it was my job to get them back outdoors, most of the time with mom waving her arms and hollering at me to just kill the poor thing.

On this particular summer’s day I had found a great big worm with stripes and I was so excited that I ran home to show my mom. I’d never seen one of these before and mom always said that worms were good for the garden so I knew she’d pleased that I’d found a nice big one. I ran into the house with my treasure calling out “look what I found, Mom.” My mom was standing at the sink and she turned around, wiping her hands on her apron and for a moment she just stood there with her jaw hanging  down and then she started to scream. It was a blood curdling scream and I’d never heard anything like it. Mom tended to be dramatic, but nothing like this. This was the Queen of All Conniptions. She picked up the broom beside her and started waving it at me and finally there were words, “Get it out of here. Get it out. Get it out.” I was a bit stunned so it took me a moment, but I finally headed toward the door. She practically pushed me out with the broom and as I was about to set it down she hollered “Not there. Not by the house. Get it out of here. Oh God… help… help…” Like I said, mom was dramatic. I had no clue why a worm would cause a reaction like that. I mean, it seemed OK to me. A little wiggly maybe, but I was obviously missing something. So I ran down to the mailbox and throw it in the grass with my mom yelling at  me the whole time at me. When I got back in the house she made me take a bath. In the daytime and baths were only ever at night! This really was serious. For hours afterward my mom kept up the histrionics. I learned that snakes were dangerous and wanted to bite you and that this bite would hurt and it would make you sick. Also, snakes were dirty and slimy and carried disease. Oh yes, and they wanted to eat my cat. Well, I won’t ever do that again I remember thinking and I haven’t, but the story proves that I haven’t always been afraid of snakes.

Now, I want to undo that trauma and make peace with snakes so we are going to a place in Michigan with a small reptile zoo. The fellow who operates it has a you-tube channel that I started following at the beginning of this quest about 2 years ago. I wanted to desensitize myself and his channel appealed to me because he has a snake named Lucy and Lucy was the name of our first lab. This fellow is also quite personable with a great attitude toward life so it was easy to keep watching. In the process of all this watching and desensitizing, I began to trust this man as I watched him help other people get over their fear of snakes. I began to think that I could do that too, so here I am getting ready to pack myself off to meet a snake or two. My girlfriend has no fear of snakes so she’s the perfect companion for this adventure and if I can’t actually touch a snake I’ll still have fun with the other animals. I’m not afraid of Iguanas or turtles or even baby alligators.

So the big question is Will I or Won’t I conquer my fear. You’ll have to tune in on Wednesday next week to find out. Jack’s Walk will be here Monday and Tuesday, but for a change they won’t be actual photos from that day. I’m not sure what they will be yet so that’ll be a surprise too. Wish me luck. I know for sure that I won’t be touching Lucy because she’s 20 feet long and gravid so not in such a good mood right now. That’s fine, something smaller is good with me. Size doesn’t matter does it?


  1. cates says

    There was a link in there. How about this:

  2. voyager says

    Thanks for the link. Those videos are cringe worthhy. I am definitely not ready for a big mass of wild, writhing garter snakes. I had trouble using your link so I’ve added it again below.
    Narcisse Snake Dens

  3. says

    Cheering you on and wishing you all the best and good luck.

    I am not afraid of snakes, but I remember one weekend when I slept over at a friend’s place. His flatmate, also a friend, let me use her room and she had a snake in a terrarium. No problem at all during the day, but this was the height of the Harry Potter days and at night I really had to fight the urge to constantly remember that chapter in the first book when the glass disappears and the snake runs loose.
    Not that I believe in magic, but…

  4. kestrel says

    May it go very well, Voyager. When I was a child my father took the time to show me how very interesting snakes are, explaining to me all the useful things they do and how helpful they are. He showed me how to catch them and handle them. It makes such a difference when a parent has that type of attitude. To me, snakes are just another animal, and I love animals. If you have the chance, see if they will hold the snake for you on both sides, with the belly uppermost. Slide your finger down the scales, going from the head to the tail. Then, once you’ve done that, slide your finger the other way on the scales, from the tail towards the head, and see what happens. But most of all have fun!

  5. Ice Swimmer says

    Good luck, Voyager!

    I regret killing one viper (their venom is toxic but the bites are rarely lethal) when I was a teenager and on a school trip in Åland. There are a grand total of three species of snake here in Finland, one is very rare and not venomous (smooth snake) one is venomous (the viper/adder) and one is not venomous (grass snake).

  6. says

    I always try to remember that a human is the scariest animal on Earth, and that most wild animals just want to get away from us and be left alone. There are notable exceptions, of course, like rhinos and wolverines, but the snakes mostly just want to leave.

    Good luck with your experiment!

  7. rq says

    I’m so impressed with you, good luck with this! I hope you come back if not a friend of snakes, then at least a very polite acquaintance. Personally I love snakes, but I used to have issues with insects, until I took an entomology course. I still have issues with spiders, and I’ve been considering an arachnology (?) course, or at least a very interesting workshop of some kind.
    I hope, at the very least, you have a lot of fun, and come away believing that you are a little bit braver than you thought you could be.

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