The Picnic Rattle
I drove my 1967 VW square back to pick up my girlfriend Colleen from her nursing school and take her out on a date. With the casset deck thrumming out our 70s hits on the sub woofers on the floor in the back we wound our way up the new Jersey palisades parkway towards black bear mt state Park. My friends say that I have an Unusual sense of a date, but what is better than walking next to a bubbly stream and talking, watching hawks catching updrafts among the clouds from a mountain top... I was happy.
I'd thought and planned this time together for a while, I'd been away at College for a year, and i pictured the two of us up alone watching the sun set, I'd picked a trail that was isolated an had a good vantage point for the sunset. I knew that seeing the it together, looking out over the trees into the future days, my college with unknown directions undeclared major, Talking about things with her, always made me feel good.
But there was that inner doubt,
how had I been so lucky to find her?
could I make her feel safe in my favorite places?
and what were her goals and dreams?
My load was heavy, and the backpack was full with food, wine and picnicking stuff, but I felt good. Getting her away from nursing tests and studies, and me out into my element was going to be great, and the weather was great too. The trail was steep and smooth granite rock and Colleen was keeping up, we would soon start to to see a view through the trees ahead, it was going to be a wonderful day.
Then suddenly a man came running down our trail at us, yelling,
"TURN BACK TURN BACK" ...
"YOU CAN'T GO THAT WAY"... its to to dangerous, "
All out of breath He told us more, and then kept on running looking pale, like he'd just cheated death, AND IT EXITED SOMETHING IN ME, I dropped my pack and said my Colleen
"wait here, It'll be ok"...
Running up the trail, an around the corner I came suddenly withing 10 feet of a narrow sunny spot in the trail, There in the middle of the narrow, basking in the sun, blocking the way to the overlook, curled, was a huge huge snake.
Creeping forward, now 5 feet, I could see that He was sleeping in the sun, Its eyes were vertical slits in its huge triangular head, closed against the sun.
I have caught lots of snakes before, … in my back yard … But this was just a snake, This is just bigger, way bigger, and I guessed more dangerous. But its just a snake, I can do this. Picking up the right kind of stick creeping forward watching where I placed each foot so as not to crack a branch, rustle a leaf, or tumble a pebble.
4 feet now,
I could see its red forked tongue flicking, testing the air, may be it sensed something, maybe it sensed me!!
My body tensed, there was the rattle. Like a plastic babies rattle slow and steady, or oak leaves in the winter wind, Now I stopped, froze, readied myself, my world focused down just this one moment, just these few inches
In 2 quick strides and I pounced on him, simultaneously got my fingers around his neck and held the muscled body down with the stick while I adjusted my grip, not to tight and not to loose, suddenly awake he curled around my arm, and twisted his baseball sized head trying to break out of my fingers, fangs and tongue looking for purchase,
Standing up with him in my hands, I had him, Success!!
BUT SUDDENLY I was scared!
There was a hand on my wrist taking my pulse!...
" cool", she said "your heart is really racing"
Then she traced the black diamonds on the silver back, and we looked in wonder at the rattle at the end of its tail vibrating.
And that's when I knew,!!
That’s WHEN I KNEW
And as we let the snake slither away in defeat in a better sunny spot, she said "look at how beautiful HE is" And I looked at her, her eyes, her hair, and said
"yes, so beautiful,
and one of a kind"..
======================== The End ==================
==== (personal notes) outline pictures for the story telling review
1 Time and place,
67 vw, date, cassets,
Bear Mt State Park
2 Personal Me
3 Anticipation & Planning
away at College, special place for sunset, talking with her was always good
4 Inner doubts
how had I been so lucky, how to make her feel safe in my special places
, what were her dreams and desires
5 Heavy back pack
trail & Colleen keeping up
The crazy man
waving arms, stop, to dangerous
sparked excitement in me
The blocked trail
10 feet, when I saw it whit looked asleep, coiled
5 feet its tongue
4 feet its eyes
3 feet freeze, a rattle
baseball sized head
tongue and fangs
Suddenly Scared, she's taking my pulse
tracing the diamonds on its back
beautiful isn't HE
as it slithered away
beautiful isn't SHE
and one of a kind.
My goal was to take my girl friend on a special picnic
I wanted her to like me, to see me as adventurous and exciting to be with,
But I wanted her to feel comfortable, to feel safe and protected
i wanted to know more about her, to talk with her, to watch the sunset on the open ridge looking west.
Add to story more of me and colleen,
Coffee slow sipping, love her lips , learned to be in the moment with her
Music and her talking , learned to listen and put myself second
But that day,.. catching the snake, learned she was the one.
I had not thought things through, could have ruined everything
My headstrong way may have revealed a side of me that I didn't want to show.
When you want to find someone special to you, you want to know how they feel, watch and listen to them, covet and plan special time with them.
I had self doubts, insecurities like many do.