Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Remember the snakes? The ones I talked about yesterday?

Well, today I accidentally weed-whacked one. It started writhing and flailing and I dropped the weed whacker and ran, screaming and cursing, to the other side of the lawn.

I am ashamed to admit (only a little ashamed, really) that I invited my 14-year-old daughter and her friend outside to "see it," mostly so one of them would cut off its head and put it out of its misery, then fling it out of the yard. I then made them pick up my tools, and I was done for the day. The bushes in the back remain untrimmed, which is unfortunate because I had to stand on a ten-foot step ladder just to hack them down to a manageable size so I could cut them more easily before the fence guy comes tomorrow and now they remain like a Towering Wall of Shrubbery that may make the fence guy's job a little difficult.

This fear I have has deep roots in the mountains of western Maryland. I watched a copperhead give birth to what seemed like thousands of writhing babies on the patio in front of our front door. My father stood with a shovel, trying to crush each baby before it slithered away, but inevitably, every summer we would have to wind a circuitous path down the wooden steps of our house, on the right side at the top and the left side at the bottom, avoiding known places where the grown-up babies would bask.

I remember crawling, sobbing, through bushes on the side of our country road to avoid a copperhead sprawled out on the warm pavement in the morning when I walked to the bus.

My brother stepped right over one, a big one, and my dad whacked it in half with a shovel.

We found a snake curled up in the corner of our kitchen, a black snake, but four feet long and as big around as a baby's arm.

I opened the cabinet for a glass once and came face to face with a  snake, staring at me.

We found one in our bathroom.

On the stairs.

Curled in the bushes when I reached for a raspberry.

I could go on. They were everywhere.

I can't shake it, this fear, and it makes me think of what other fears I have that I can't shake. After this past Year of the Snake (the irony is not lost on me), I am not so sure that there is anything left to fear. Every other fear seems so irrational and ridiculous and statistically insignificant that I cannot quite bring myself to be truly afraid.

What scares you most? Truly keeps you up at night or jerks you wide awake in the small hours?

Image by David Evans via Flickr


  1. This is SUCH an intense story!! The visual of the baby copperheads and your dad may permanently be burned into my psyche. What a dramatic opening to a novel. What scares me most? Something tragic happening to my kids. Someday when I meet you in person I'll share my own snake story. xo

    1. Gabriella, I don't fear that because in that instant I would cease to exist. I can't even begin to think about that.

  2. And I thought the rattlesnakes in AZ were bad. Snakes are scary!