One summer day when I was about five years old, up in the Catskill Mountains where my family used to spend our summers, I was walking to the orchard behind my grandfather’s house. My plan, if I could really be said to have had a plan, was to find some apples, and once having found them, to eat them.
I remember that the apples in the orchard behind my grandfather’s house were particularly yummy, although this could just be sentimental memory on my part. Almost all of them looked great, luscious and ripe and juicy, but I would carefully examine each one, looking for the tell-tale little hole. If I found a hole, that meant a worm had found the apple first, and was currently making its home there. I would toss those back. But the ones without the holes I would bite into, and that first bite would invariably be heaven, especially on a hot summer afternoon.
On this particular hot summer afternoon I never actually made it all the way to the orchard. I was about half way there, ambling along in my typical day dreaming way, when there was a rustling in the tall grass. I stopped dead in my tracks, not knowing what it was, and not really being all that eager to find out. The rustling came closer, and suddenly a big black snake popped its head up out of the grass, directly in front of me. I was sure it was the biggest snake I had ever seen in my life.
For a long moment I stared at the snake and the snake stared at me. The next thing I knew I found myself running back toward the house as fast as my legs could carry me, trying to put as much distance between me and that snake as I could.
Although I knew I should concentrate on getting to my grandfather’s back porch as fast as I could, I couldn’t resist looking over my shoulder, to see if the snake was gaining on me. To my surprise, what I saw was a rustling receding into the distance – the snake was running away from me as fast as I was running away from the snake!
From that moment on I was never again afraid of snakes. In fact, I developed a soft spot for them, and even started to kind of like them. And I still do, to this day.