Snake Sticks

Written by Allison Vincent, communications director

Starting a new job can be challenging. The first year of work is like an anthropological research project, studying the behaviors of a faraway culture. Many things are ordinary; check email, print labels, write blog posts etc.. but some things are exciting and new, like hiking down long trails alone early in the morning. 

I’ve never really hiked alone and I find the experience makes me feel both mindful and vigilant. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve frozen mid-step to over-analyze a crooked stick down the trail from me to make sure it’s not a snake. In fact this has happened enough times that I’ve taken to calling them snake sticks, out of respect. Before moving on, I should add that I like snakes but didn’t come across quite so many of them in previous position. 

These wriggly wandering sticks have done more than stop me in my tracks. They’ve helped me realize that my overactive imagination has resulted in many animal misidentifications. For my first few weeks at CREW whenever I would simultaneously see a shadowy figure in the palmettos and hear the crunchy noise of foot-steps I’d automatically assume it was a bear or panther too close for my comfort. There’s been more than one instance when I’ve started whistling or said something original like, “Hey, Bear! Or whatever you are, I’m walking here”.

Thankfully, with time on the trails during these purposeful work-hikes I’ve come to accept many of my false assumptions about wildlife. Now I expertly breeze past snake sticks without a missed step and huff at shadowy palmetto bushes. I know where to look for the wispy pink flag that marks the entrance to check the water gauge, a regular job detail during the rainy season. I carefully move the oak tree limbs aside to find the single-file path that wanders through tall grasses to find a post that marks the water depth and I think, ‘This is an awesome job’.

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