Fight or flight?

by cheri sabraw

After killing a rattlesnake outside my garage today, I am grateful for my  fully-functioning nervous system, complete with flight of fight response, pounding heart rate, and acute survival instinct.

I’m not low energy—that’s for sure. I’m sure that in my former life in a cold cave, I trapped wild game animals, killed them, grilled them, and then slept like a dead one.

I will admit today to over-exertion and some minor panic when I drove into my garage, stepped out of my car with flip-flops on my tiny feet, only to hear hissing and pissing coming from a corner by the generator.

Good God.

Not a juvenile. Not a five-foot snake. Probably a saucy teenager, who became quite bothered, as he wrapped his 2-foot body into a coil and told me to get the hell out of my garage.

I called my husband who was in a hearing.

I called my son who was at work.

I even called Glenn, my friend and the caretaker up the road, who informed me he was in San Diego.

It was up to me.

After sitting in my car for over twenty minutes, I watched the snake leave the garage and round the corner outside.

My husband called.

“Do not let that snake get away,” he said, “ Go get your shotgun and kill it.”

“I’ve forgotten how to load my shotgun, your honor,” I peeped.

I called my son at work.

“Mom, throw a brick at it and call me when the deed is done, “ he suggested.

I heaved four boulders on the hissing snake. All they did was provide a cavern in which he could hide.

I dumped several cups of ammonia on said snake.

He lifted up his diamond-shaped head and I whacked it off with a shovel.


I’m spent and having a glass of buttery Chardonnay.

So much for blog posts about Palo Verde trees and quail.

My workouts are paying off. I am strong.

I have a picture of the dead snake but I will spare you all.









About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Fight or flight?

  1. shoreacres says:

    Bravo! The shovel’s just as effective, though you have to be a little too close for my comfort. On the other hand, I’d not want to be letting loose with a 22 or whatever you have inside a garage. A well-honed machete’s good, too, and unless something goes horribly wrong, you’re not likely to damage anything but the snake.

    I hope you had a second glass of that Chardonnay.

  2. Cheri says:

    Funny! I’m having it right now, Linda.

  3. Sharon says:

    Small, but mighty! I am impressed… About the buttery Chardonnay!

  4. Cheri says:

    You turned me on to buttery Chardonnay, girl. Go Rombauer!!! Go Butter.
    On another note, I love you.

  5. Christopher says:

    The deed is done. The snake is dead. You killed it because you thought it a deadly threat to you and your family. So you acted out of perceived self-defense.

    However, from what you say, you were in no danger from the snake, which would have been as terrified of you as you were of it. It simply wanted to escape, and it would appear to have been succeeding in doing so before you ended its life prematurely.

    But, had you allowed it to go its own way, you probably would never have seen it again. .

    These are things you might consider next time you see a snake on your property, or anywhere else. Consider also that, like you, a snake is one of God’s creatures, and therefore has as much right to life as any human.

    • Cheri says:

      Whenever we see any snake (other than a rattlesnake) on our property we make sure it lives and goes about its business. I recognize that snakes, scorpions, black widows, and termites are all creatures of some creator. However I will fumigate termites and kill rattlesnakes because they are poisonous.

      I ended its life because we have dogs and little ones wandering around the property. If you found a rattlesnake in your car, would you preserve its life?

      • Christopher says:

        Because my late father’s lifelong hobby was catching and studying snakes (African ones), I have, as a result, somewhat of an ease with snakes that I don’t have with, say, rats – which I have a primordial terror of.

        So, what I said in my comment was ultimately about me, in the way that what any of us say about anything – no matter how academic or polemical – is ultimately about us.

        I’m glad to hear you tolerate non-poisonous snakes on your property. I do understand your fear of the danger that poisonous snakes on your land can pose to children and dogs. You are right, of course, to do all you perceive is necessary to protect them.

        “…..If you found a rattlesnake in your car, would you preserve its life?…….”.

        Probably. But a rat? We’el………it depends……….

        • Cheri says:

          I love your comment Christopher because it reminds me (and all who read this blog) that we do comment and react based on our own experience. Sometimes we don’t understand why a person might disagree. Your concern for the snake is justifiable and good.

          My husband has been known to stop traffic on our tiny road to shepherd a king or gopher snake safely across. I do the same for tarantulas on the road. I do kill black widows and wasps. I feel like killing the wild turkeys but have never done so.

          I do take spiders out of my house alive.
          I, too, do not like most rodents. We kill mice and rats in our basement.

  6. Brighid says:

    Always that adrenaline dump when you run across a jingle worm. Other snakes don’t bother me much and I leave them to do their job. Not jingle worms, those I kill. My first scotty was of the same mind, she left all the other snakes alone, but jingle worms she was death on. She would grab’m and pop’m till they were stone cold dead, drop’m and walk away in total Scottish disdain.
    wine or scotch will do, medicinally of course.

  7. Cheri says:

    Thank you. Of course, we want all other snakes to live and even move them off the road so that cars will not hit them. I’ve not heard the term jingle worm but there was no hesitancy in my mind that I did not want it on the property. Grandkids, dogs, etc. Thanks for the support.

  8. Muni says:

    Grandkids and dogs. How about Ron? I am glad it was dead before Ron got home!

    • Cheri says:

      Well, of course I wouldn’t want Ron (who is afraid of rattlesnakes because of a childhood trauma) to come upon a snake in his orchard (how Biblical of me). But, Ron wears high-top leather boots around the property–Dinah, well, she wears her cute little paws. I read your comment to Ron and he said, “That’s my friend, Muni–always looking out for me!”

  9. Richard says:

    Are you sure it wasn’t left there by the Stepford community?

    • Cheri says:

      Very possible. Since no one has begged me to write why I was admonished, I think I’ll skip it.

    • Richard says:

      Did the rattlesnake spark when you clobbered it? No Stepford wife would have been so wifully courageous. That is, I imagine not: I never saw the film.

      • Cheri says:

        I never saw the film because I read the book and that was enough…
        Despite its weak writing, it did provide me throughout the years with an allusion to use for a number of societal observations: how women conform to men’s expectations and in the process, lose their individuality for fear of rejection; how human beings gravitate toward conformity and reject individualism (note the Bernie Sanders’ campaign and where it is headed), and how brains shrivel up as we strive to be accepted at any cost.

        If every Stepford wife was encouraged to kill rattlesnakes, there would be no snakes left.
        Several things I noticed about myself were my tremendous adrenaline hit as I banished danger from my garage and my sense of independence in doing it.

        Now, if I had gone down below the basement, started the big John Deere tractor and moved the 100 foot redwood tree that fell down several weeks ago, I would have wondered about my estrogen/testosterone blend.

        Maybe it is all the weight training I am doing. Yoga never did this…

  10. potsoc says:

    You were rightly rattled and did the right thing, good for you.

  11. Cheri says:

    Very clever comment, Paul. It was instinctive. I do agree with Christopher that I don’t want to kill other living creatures though.

  12. wkkortas says:

    You know, well done for taking him out with the shovel, but…man, that is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. You don’t nail him with the shovel right off, all you’re left with is a really angry and dismayed rattler, which you, me, nor Andy Griffith his ownself wants any part of.

  13. Cheri says:

    Of course, you are correct. I was directed to shoot him but, as mentioned, I do not know how to load my shotgun. We women do what we can with what we have and in this case, I used rocks, ammonia, and a shovel. Pretty damn primitive.

  14. Cyberquill says:

    Nice going. What’s a novel with no tension without a little beheading now and then? Still, the least you could have done for us, your readers, is take a selfie with the serpent before you went all ISIS on it.

  15. Cheri says:

    Nice mixed metaphor…or mixed blog posts or whatever you call it. I have come to the sad conclusion that I cannot write a novel without tension. I sadly confess what I already knew. I did take a picture of the serpent (nice word, btw) but it was so gross, I left it out. ISIS is a brutal group of people who, I hope, die.

    • Cyberquill says:

      Someone recently posted a picture of a cottonmouth she had chopped up into five pieces with a spade. In unrelated news, a couple of years ago, I encountered an Aesculapian snake in my backyard here in Austria. I’d never met a snake before, let alone one this big. I didn’t even know snakes were native to my area. Haven’t left the house much since.

  16. Cheri says:

    I have never heard of an Aesculapian snake…sounds like an Ancient Greek playwright. To find one of those in your backyard must have been startling. I remember staying at a rather rural motel outside of Salzburg about 8 years ago. There were high grasses all around the establishment. I asked the proprietor if there were snakes there. He said no.

  17. Pingback: The Other Half-Circle of Hell | Notes from Around the Block

Leave a Reply to Cheri Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s