Cody and I took our dogs for a hike this weekend, climbing in the front range for a couple hours. On the way back, about a half mile from the car, we heard a notorious rattle in the bushes. In time, thankfully, we saw the rattler. We backed away just as a woman stopped and asked what we were looking at. We pointed to the snake, both dogs now growling and acting completely freaked. Her home, within 100 yards of the trail, held several dogs and a large garden. She asked my brother to please kill the snake. It was the seventh one this summer she’d killed.
To know me is to know my most irrational deathly fear of snakes. Any shape. Any form. Any size. I dislike snakes. But there I stood trying to talk these two out of killing the animal. Wasn’t it only doing it’s job? Wouldn’t it keep rodents out of her house and garden?
Unfortunately, my voice didn’t win. I teared up when the shovel came down on the glorious beast. I am no fan, but nature works. We mess with nature, by, say, building a house on a mountain and not expecting creatures on “our” territory. That snake had a role. It was doing it’s job by rattling, letting us know to get out of its way. Instead, it met a quick death.
We stood there afterward for a few minutes on the trail, watching the body twitch — the nerves still working after death. The scales shimmered. And I’d be lying just a little bit if I didn’t think in that moment, “Huh. I’d like a snakeskin purse or boots one day. That’s real purdy.”
And this is yet another sign I’m becoming a giant, tree-hugging crazy Colorado hippie. I’m now rooting for the snake. This was the second one I saw this weekend hiking, but my first time ever seeing a rattle snake. I’ve always heard you’d hear a rattler before you see one; now I know it for truth. I also know I should turn down my iPod when hiking alone, otherwise I’ll miss the telltale siren.
P.S. The snake did not go to waste. Its head was buried to prevent an animal from later becoming sick from the venom. Cody put the snake on ice, hiked it out and is planning on using the skin and rattler for some project, and eating the meat. Seriously. You may call him Davy Crockett. I call him brave, plucky and in great need of a haircut.