On this day of giving thanks I am thankful I survived a near fatal snake attack. My tale begins as it often does … me, my running shoes, and a lonely dirt road covered in a tree canopy of glorious reds, golds, and oranges. A tree canopy on the cusp of winter, with colourful “tree litter” covering the dirt road. Tree litter, I have since learned, is a popular resting/hiding spot for Ontario’s only poisonous snake, the Massassauga Rattler. Okay, “no one has died from a massasauga bite in Ontario in almost 50 years“, but I suspect few have been surprised by a pair of yellow sneakers flying overhead with nary a care in the world.
Spying the snake on the road I immediately assumed it was a dead snake. This was not an unfounded assumption: last Thanksgiving on a similar run I encountered nine snake carcasses and an assortment of other critters who met their demise at the hands of hurling boxes of steel. According to the experts, “most snakebites in Ontario have been due to people stumbling across rattlesnakes“. Running counts as stumbling. As I lifted off to step over the “dead” snake it reared up at me in the classic “strike to kill” position. The reactionary shot of adrenaline spiraled me upwards to rim-touching heights as I leapt for my life. A pack of teenage boys on those four-wheel death machines raced by at that exact moment and became so amused by the spectacle one of them nearly ran off the road. The snake, obviously intimidated by my athletic prowess (or the death machines, who can be sure), levitated then turned 180 degrees and slithered away into the forest.
As I regaled my family with tales of my narrow escape they all asked: did you hear the tell-tale rattle? Well I did hear the tell-tale rattling of my rapidly beating heart, but with my headphones firmly affixed all I heard was REM’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine). Eerily fitting, no?
Title: The Rip Chords – Hey Little Cobra. 1964.