By Ron Samuelsen
I have a healthy respect for nature, even the slithering kind! Recently, my wife and I watched three little birds consciously approach and inspect a small coachwhip snake in our yard. It was a fascinating interaction as the birds circled, probed, and approached while the coiled snake watched and sensed its potential meal. Even though they were different species, the birds worked together, each keeping its space but also communicating with each other about the pending danger. The snake also sensed danger and as soon as the birds lost interest, it quickly slithered away under nearby protective bushes. It was interesting to me to consider that each critter was a food source for each other and a danger to each other.
The circle of life was more apparent with my recent invasion of packrats. Packrats nest under heavy foliage, so keeping a well-kept yard is important. In my case, the packrats live nearby. After paying $800 for a new wiring harness in my car, I set my live trap and caught six “wire eating” rodents in a week. Each day, I relocated them far away and then reset my trap. I commented to my friend about my packrat epidemic but that I hadn’t seen any rattlesnakes yet this year. Rattlesnakes and packrats are part of nature’s natural balance and rattlesnakes eat packrats! Where there are rodents, there are going to be snakes.
The other morning, I could see that my trap had sprung again only to be startled when I reached down to find a very angry western diamondback stuck in the wire mesh of the trap! I had caught a three-foot-long rattlesnake this time! His body was bulbous and couldn’t fit the rest of the way through the opening, but it was obvious the snake was hunting packrats too. Despite being trapped, he tried to strike me multiple times with its six inches of unencumbered length. I smartly used my snake stick to avoid its dangerous bite!
I quickly decided it wasn’t in my best interest to reach into the trap with my bare hand to release the stuck serpent, so I set the trap on its side allowing the snake the opportunity to back out of his predicament and escape into the desert. When I returned from work, the snake was in the same position and dead as a doornail. The sun and heat had taken its toll on him because he had not figured out how to back out of the narrow opening. Just six inches of gravity enabled backwards slithering would have freed it from its capture – just six inches from freedom!
Like so many of us, sometimes we get into a predicament but don’t know how to get out of it! Because of our stubbornness, arrogance, or naivety, we aren’t willing to ask for assistance, forgiveness, or instruction. We let our hubris dictate our actions instead of humility to guide our direction. We can continue with the angry rhetoric like the rattlesnake or seek tranquility to lead us to freedom.