When I was 16 my father and mother demolished the 1970’s pool in our backyard. A pool in Montana, you see, is only good for about 2 months of the year. My parents gave my sister and I $200 each to bribe us. It was quite effective.
I remember the same day going into the pet shop and admiring a gorgeous albino boa, then a lovely corn snake, and then a California King snake. You see, I have been in love with reptiles of all kinds. I almost bought one that very day- unfortunately, $200 doesn’t cut it for a snake, the frozen (or live) mice you feed it, the cage, the heating lamps, etc…
My childhood idol was definitely Steve Irwin. I spent most Sundays in front of the television, imagining myself capturing venomous snakes deep in Australia or wading through swamps looking for anacondas. I knew what kinds of venom and toxins different snakes had.
Some summers I was lucky enough to spend time in upstate New York in the ponds capturing frogs and wrangling garter snakes. One morning I found baby fire salamanders, and I don’t think I can ever forget their coloring against the dark log I found them in. Snake skins hung near rocks there.
If I could do it again I’d study reptiles and amphibians and spend my days with them. But for now all I can do is admire from a distance. Unfortunately Montana is a hard place to live for snake lovers- they’re rare and sneaky.
Images by Benjamin Soland