Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It’s that time of year to sow seeds indoors in anticipation of planting them as the soil warms in late spring. It is so exciting to think about expanding my tiny garden plot this year. Last year was my first venture into gardening in the Pacific Northwest region of the country. I have found it to be quite different from gardening in say…the Mojave Desert, where I used to live and garden.

Living there was a challenge because, quite frankly, everything was trying to kill you. Think about it…black widow spiders, scorpions, Mojave Green rattlesnakes, regular diamondback rattlers, coyotes…they could be anywhere, and they were. Of particular concern were the ‘Mojave green’ rattlesnakes (yes they had a green hue) because they have both neuro- and hemo- toxins. The babies are most dangerous because they have no control of the venom they dispense—it is all expelled in one shot, er, bite. A favorite spot for snakes to overnight is near the house—say a front door where a little heat escapes to warm the snake. But more often, we found the snakes slithering thru the cool, damp lawn during the daytime summer heat of 110 degrees. Coming upon them in the lawn gave new meaning to finding a ‘snake in the grass’!

One day we were out in the desert doing a little four-wheel driving (yes, unlike most people in LA, our 4WD actually saw 4WD action) and saw a snake lying in the road in our path. It was almost a lime green color and it didn’t move. We thought we’d check it out and stepped out of the Jeep. As we did, the snake came to life and began moving toward us. That was all the incentive we needed to get back into the vehicle. We drove away as the snake crawled under the Jeep. We looked back. There was no snake visible. We envisioned ourselves trapped in the movie ‘Snakes on a Jeep’. Thankfully, when we stopped a while later, our passenger released himself and slithered away.

But that was a lifetime ago in a place far, far away from our current idyllic setting. And now I guess I'd better get back to sowing those seeds at the Gardener's Roost...


  1. I'd never heard of those green rattlers before! I'm not reptile phobic at all, but I was always on alert for rattlesnakes in eastern Washington. I'd keep pebbles in my pocket to toss ahead of myself as I walked the trail through wheatfields to school. Sometimes I could even hear them slithering away!

    In the northwest, about the only thing to avoid are the Hobo spiders.

  2. They warned us about the 'Mojave Greens' upon arrival in the desert. It was fascinating info, but even better was to hear the stories of neighbors who had close encounters with them on their doorsteps, in kid's toys, in their garages, etc. I got used to regularly seeing snakes (and the other deadly critters). Because I wasn't afraid of them, the neighbors would call me if they wanted one identified as poisonous or not. Fun times.

    Comparing the two locations, living in the Pacific Northwest is like living in a Disney movie with bunnies and deer around. Good point on the hobo spiders though. I'll be on the lookout for them!


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