My annual visit to Pelee Island invariably tests whether or not I have overcome my phobia of snakes, and after this last trip, the answer is a firm and indisputable No!
I fancy that I've come a long way since that dark day in rural Kentucky when I was exploring an abandoned barn. Someone found a six foot long snake skin, and wouldn't you know, some helpful person causally mentioned that a snake doesn't stray far from where he left his skin.
I'm fairly certain that is nothing but bosh, but, let me tell you, it was enough to make me Freak Out.
Big Freak, Big, Big Freak.
But, over the years, mostly born out of determination not to pass every last one of my neuroses down to my children, I have made a concerted effort to chill with regard to snakes. I don't pick them up. I don't want them in my house. But I go into the reptile house at the zoo. I can look at them from afar. I don't freak when I see one in the road.
And then this trip.
My two sisters have lake houses on Pelee Island. Sister A -- we'll call her Frantic --doesn't like snakes anymore than I do. Sister B -- we'll call her Loony -- has a pathological fear of them.
Well, Loony, see, she is also horribly allergic to Poison Ivy. Gets it every year. Starts itching at the slightest brush. In an effort to rid her wooded property of Poison Ivy, she has dispensed generous amounts of something akin to Agent Orange, and though she still manages to get Poison Ivy every year, her property is all but snake free.
Meanwhile Frantic's property up the beach is a teeming mass of reptiles. Our two weeks in Canada brought some of the most beautiful weather we have ever enjoyed up north. Breezy, cool, gorgeous. On hot days, the snakes stay in the woods where. they. belong. On cool days, they head to the beach for a little sun. And if you should be bringing in a batch of towels or folding up the beach chairs, you might just step on one (or three).
(Note: The names have been changed to protect the guilty from the pesky Ministry of Natural Resources. Our Canadian neighbors take their snakes very seriously indeed.)
A few years back I was staying at Frantic's house and met a friend of hers, Ivy, who hails from South Africa. I commented on the plethora of snakes and wondered if they bothered her. No, turns out that Ivy grew up with a next door neighbor who rarely cut his lawn. His unkempt property attracted -- are you ready for this? -- Black Mambas. Yes, Ivy grew up avoiding one of the deadliest snakes on the planet.
If that had been me, I guess a little Lake Erie Water Snake probably wouldn't ruin my day either.
The following photos were not staged. John and Ainsley encountered a rather large specimen on Frantic's beach and here I present evidence pulled straight from Genesis: God put enmity between the woman and the snake:
|John meets Mr. Snake.|
|John harasses Mr. Snake.|
|Ainlsey throws up her hands and shrieks, "oh my!"|
|In the spirit of her mother and Aunts Frantic and Loony, Ainsley makes a mad dash.|
|But goes back later for a tentative look.|