Susan C. Anthony

Dennis and the SnakeSnakes

July 28, 1987

Dennis has never been fond of snakes. In fact, I would call him paranoid. In my experience, seeing a dangerous snake happens less frequently in Colorado than seeing a wild grizzly in Alaska.

His apprehension grew as we approached Dad's remote ranch in southern Colorado, a semi-desert area with gamble oak and piñon pine the principal vegetation.

He was obviously thinking about snakes during our visit with the neighbors. "Sure," said Mr. Maes, "there are snakes here, plenty of them up in those rocks." He gestured, and followed up with stories of various snake encounters in the area. We were shown a plant which, if eaten, crushed on the skin, or planted around the house repels snakes. Dennis was visibly alarmed, more so than I thought was warranted for our two-day visit to the area. Before we left, I wanted to dispel his fear if possible.

"In the sixty-some years you've lived and farmed here, Mr. Maes," I asked, "how many rattlesnakes have you personally seen?"

"One," he replied.

Later, in Morocco, Dennis was accosted by a snake charmer who wrapped a snake around his neck. Fortunately, it didn't bite. Maybe it was charmed!

These days the shoe is on the other foot. While driving guests into the homestead, Dennis entertains them with every bear story he's ever heard or experienced. Some arrive too terrified to sleep the first night. I try to assure them that in the nearly 50 years Dennis has been in the area, no one has had a dangerous encounter with a bear! Not that it couldn't happen, of course, but it would make history. The bears here want to avoid us as much or more than we want to avoid them.

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Source:, ©Susan C. Anthony