I was raised in Africa, in a city and never encountered a snake until, in midlife, moved to a farm with snakes. Fight or flight? Forget it. Run yelling ‘snake snake’ and let some one else deal with it regardless. There are ‘good’ snakes and bad snakes but they were all the same to me. Preferably kill or at least remove. I would be long gone.
On my recent sojourn in Florida I encountered a snake.
It was the mockingbird who drew my attention
He was dive bombing the poor snake, who was on the driveway,screeching in a dozen different bird languages (Mocking Birds do that). The snake disappeared under a car, and then when the coast was clear headed under the house. I watched fascinated.
Hours later, out with my camera, my eye was caught by a sliding motion on the fence. The snake appeared and posed for the camera. I am assuming it was the same snake. I stilled my heart and got the pic.
I was ensured by my family that the snake was harmless, although my sister confessed that she, in ten years of living there, had never actually seen him.
I named him Harmless Horace, just to remind myself not to be terrified.
I spent much time in the garden and was always aware of him. A black slither across the patio. The flicker of a tail disappearing under a shrub. An arm length away amidst the jasmine – a rolling coil of glistening black. I was always aware of him, but never got another photo op. I stomped around, speaking loudly. Terrified I might stand on him and in panic, drop my camera (which is not insured). I felt an affinity.
My holiday ended and I return to England. Bro-in-law skyped me. Said Horace had been looking for me. Came up to the glass sliding doors of the family room, reared himself up and peered in. He then apparently curled himself up and lay in front of the sliding doors for ten or so minutes before disappearing again. Never ever happened before.
I suggested to my bro-in-law that Horace wanted to see his portrait. Whilst I was in Florida I painted, on request, a painting of Roseate Spoonbills. I included Horace on instruction, at the last minute.
I am not feeling very comfortable about saying I felt an affinity with a snake. What I do feel is priviliged. I can’t quite explain it.
Meanwhile my sister says there is no way she is going to take the painting outside and sit and wait for Horace to come and view it.