Sunday, May 23, 2010

Snakes for Goodness Sakes!

Folks have one of two reactions to serpents- fear or attraction. I observe this all the time, from guests in my home who either scurry wild-eyed past the snake tanks, or peer inside for a better look. Many times, someone with the fear reaction, will make efforts to work through it with the help of my corn snake. Bright candy-orange, she looks like a toy. Very threatening indeed. It's interesting to watch their faces switch from tense as steel coils to relaxed and smiling. These people walk away with less of a weight, quite proud for facing down fear. And I know that there is one less snake that could die from being found in someone's garden. I often feel like a mediator between humans and serpents, a role I'm happy to take to shore up a rift amongst species, heal over phobias and mis-information, religious propaganda towards a creature who's only role is to exist with the rest of us.
Now, granted, I wouldn't go trying to make a pet out of a rattler, or think that a 30foot python with 30 feet of attitude would be a loving snuggle-bunny. Some creatures are best left to themselves, especially if they don't like humans. That doesn't take much fatty matter to figure out. But, there are some snakes that get along with us quite well, show emotion, even affection. Suprised? I was, at least to the way it was expressed. And here is where learning something from another being comes in, one of the reasons I have snakes. Although, if I had the means, this place would be a zoo- in a good way.
Shortly after I got my boa and we were still getting aquianted with each other, I took her out for sun in the backyard, draped her over my shoulders while I enjoyed the iris blooms. Then, along came the neighbor's cat wanting attention and treats. Yeah, they all come here. The word is out. Even the possum is spoiled.
So, I'm petting the cat, rubbing it's cheeks while it purrs all over the begonias. Meanwhile, the snake is watching all of this. I know because I'm watching the snake to make sure she doesn't get the idea that the cat is dinner. Suddenly, the snake lifts her head off my shoulder, rubs her face against my cheek, just like I was doing to the cat. I was astounded. But that's not all she did. Just to be sure there was no misunderstanding, she slithered to my left and rubbed against my other cheek. Now, you may not believe that, or maybe you do. And you can make of it what you will. It was simply my experience, and sometimes, that's all that matters to make a difference for us, how we percieve things or even ourselves. I no longer saw reptiles as existing through only a reptilian brain. I saw them as more complex, more feeling. Granted, their expressions of emotion are sometimes much more subtle than ours, since they have no facial muscles to convey feelings. But, for me, that is part of their teaching- to calm our hurried selves down and pay attention. That in doing so, we become more aware and sensitive to subtleties within and without. That we are missing too much by not observing things outside of the farmiliar, and that the differences may not always be so great.
Our complex brains can sometimes make us too busy to realize that we get in our own way. Thank goodness for so-called simple creatures to nudge us back onto proper footing.

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