Sunday, March 28, 2010

A chance encounter

Click all photos to "embiggen"

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him --- did you not,
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun,--
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

- Emily Dickinson

This morning I made the acquaintance of this fellow, Crotalus oreganus helleri, the Southern Pacific rattlesnake, also called the black diamondback rattlesnake. We were walking on the main trail at Red Rock Canyon Park, heading back toward the ranger station, when I looked down at the path and saw him sunning himself on the pinky-mauve dirt, in just enough time to alter my pace and avoid stepping on him.

I leapt a couple yards away from him, and yelped out loud, startling [The Man I Love] and the dog.

The snake lifted his head, twisted like a wire cable, and turned back on himself, back through the weeds to the shelter of the brush, and the last thing I saw of him was the rattle at the end of his tail.

This is the second rattlesnake I've seen in 13 years of living here. The first one was a little one, and I heard his rattle before I saw him. This fellow never made a sound.


Jason, as himself said...


One would think you would see a lot more of these guys, living where you do!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Love Emily ... and well do without the rattler!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Nice pics, g!

I've seen one rattler in my life, he/she/snake was a baby.

And it's not through want of trying...when I was little, I used to walk through swamps, etc. looking for snakes (I did find an enormous water moccasin, once.)

Gary's third pottery blog said...

HOLY SH!T I AM NEVER going near Cali, evah!

M. Bouffant said...

"Welcome back," hisses Mr. Snake.

I keep telling myself I'm going to buy some hiking boots & hit Griffith Park once in a while, reducing sedentary internetting to 10 or 12 hrs./day, though I haven't had much luck w/ it yet.

This is not encouraging me.

Blondie's Journal said...

You managed to get some great pictures!! Very scary!




Snowwy said...

Hey, if he didn't rattle at you he wasn't upset and you were never threatened. So that's a good thing!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Wow, those are beautiful pictures. We have timber rattlesnakes in the Catskills, but I, like Thunder, have never had the privilege of meeting one, and not for lack of trying.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Doh, sorry Thunder, you saw your rattler. Now I have a "sad".

Gilly said...

Those are great pictures, especially if the snake was moving fairly fast!

Remind me - are US snakes dangerous/poisonous?? If I ever visit, should I wear wellies?

mo.stoneskin said...

And you've been carrying a net and spade with you ever since?

Christopher said...


Anonymous said...

Oh, gosh, thank heavens for your quick reflexes...we used to beat the hay bales with broom handles before climbing up, and all the jumps in the pasture with our riding crops just in case they were hanging around. They're fairly reclusive, and slow when it's cool, but I still shudder when I see one. Only one has ever rattled at me, and he was such a baby - venomous all the same - he didn't even make any noise.

My fear now that we're closer to water are the moccasins....ugh. Lonesome Dove, one too many times....