|Things That Go Dump in the Night
The rich riparian zone that borders both banks of the the Deschutes, ranging in width from two to several hundred feet in width, is host to a wonderful variety of wildlife that is naturally of interest to us amateur biologist/fishermen. That interest escalates when we are camping in it, and have to coexist
with the critters. For some reason, we tend to focus on the more noxious critters, the snakes, etc. Just for the record, there are, in addition to rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widow spiders,
some really weird biting insects that inspired, in miniature, the creature from ALIEN, and often a lot of poison oak. But the otherwise more benign tenants also can provide their own form of pleasure.
Betty Soreng, John's wife, is an avid enough fisherwomen that her ghastly fear of snakes is not about stop her, but for years she wore a little bell on her collar on the theory that the snakes would hear her coming and disappear before she got there. At least it's supposed to work for bears in Alaska. I didnít have the heart to tell her that snakes canít hear. She allowed as that she really didn't know what she would do if she really met up with a snake, face to face. Since we never seemed to run into them for years, everyone was happy. But finally one year Betty came back from fishing, got out of her waders, and dropped down to sit beside me on one of my legless canoe chairs in camp where I was resting overlooking the river. After talking a few minutes I noticed a movement under Betty's leg stretched out inches over the ground. A 3 foot long "bull" snake (that's what we call them but their most distinguishing characteristic is that they look exactly like a rattler but without the rattle, etc.; but it takes many long seconds before you are sure) slowly inched its way
directly under Betty's bare thigh. I stared just long enough to be sure it was harmless, then engaged Betty's eyes directly and said. "Betty, I want you to know that is NOT A RATTLESNAKE between your legs." Betty slowly looked down and held still. The snake flicked its tongue and inched it's way over to me, then into it's burrow which was right in the middle of camp. Betty is a classy lady. She didn't even bother getting up when it was gone. Didn't really discuss it much one way or another. I think
she gave up wearing bells soon after that. I guess she finally learned what she would do, and that was the end of it.
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