Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't Tread On Me


Don't Tread On Me, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

I was on my way down from shooting a sunset on Monitor Pass in when I came across a rattlesnake in the road. I rarely see rattlesnakes in the Sierra Nevada, but they're vital to helping control rodent populations and reducing the risk of bubonic plague and hantavirus, so I helped ths one off the road. Sadly, it was injured, perhaps by some ignorant motorist who would prefer a slow, painful death from black plague? I've never had a rattlesnake strike at me or act offensive in any way.

Instead, they warn me of their presence, and move in the opposite direction at the earliest convenience. They're shy, reclusive creatures and avoid us whenever possible. I always feel priveleged at having seen one.

"I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?"
- Benjamin Franklin