It was yesterday (Friday), about 11:00 a.m. A nice bright sun was beating down, as always. One cloudy day in a hundred here in the Sonoran Desert. My friend Suzanne & I were just driving down the driveway from her parent’s house (which she house-sits as they’re moving into their new home 100 miles north of here), and the gravel splattered a little as we got out to the street. Not more than 6 feet from the mailbox was the biggest snake I’ve ever seen in my life (other than in a movie like “Python“, that is!) The grayish reptile, tinged with a bit of blue and pink, was stretched out on the warm cement right across the road. It went from one side of the road to the other. I was wondering if it was real or fake, alive or dead, when its whole body ‘rippled’ a little and it inched a bit farther. It was alive, alright! Fortunately for the snake, we were turning right and couldn’t have run him over if we’d tried. . .
“Oh, that’s The Sidewinder! He comes out every so often. He’s one of the reasons my parents wanted to move away from this house!” Suddenly I understood her parents better. “You mean, last week when we were cutting mistletoe off the Palo Verde trees — this snake was nearby?”
“Oh, sure. The place is full of snakes, you just have to be a little bit careful.”
“Do people ever run over them, in the road?”
“Not that I’ve seen. Nobody tries to run over snakes. You have to give them their right-of-way, like anybody else
“Wow! What would you say he is? Five feet? Six feet?”
“Oh, no. He’s at least seven to eight feet long!”
That’s some Sidewinder, I thought! A Grand Daddy of Sidewinders, right here inside the city limits of Tucson.
Well, this might be the last time I delve too far into the desert brush, venture to pick fresh oily-green leaves off a fragrant Creosote bush, or go out beyond the house with a saw-on-a-pole to grapple with the mistletoe… a job I was recruited by her parents to do, just last week…now that I can plainly see there are big snakes lurking out there! I’m not “afraid” of these snakes, I just suddenly don’t see much wisdom in wandering around on their territory, because if they’re laying on the road, they could be lurking — anywhere! We saw one, but there could be a dozen, and I’m told the bite of the little rattlers is more venomous than the big ones.
I already notice that I’m watching my steps and treating the desert itself with more respect, as the natural habitat of this giant reptile. I’m looking to see what’s ahead of me, even on the gravel driveway and parking area, since it’s true they like to come out and sun themselves in the heat of the day. A very interesting creature, to be sure… but I don’t want to see The Sidewinder up any closer than I have already.
Funny, I harbor not the slightest animosity toward this creature or his kin, I don’t wish to confront him, or make a pair of shoes or a wallet out of his skin. I don’t feel as if I have to “beat” him or stalk him. In fact, the only feeling I have is the need to respectfully give him enough space so that I don’t intrude on his world. “Live and let live!”
So that’s all there is to tell, for now, anyway, about my first sighting of a dangerous denizen of the desert.
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