Regarding the snake in the dryer, however, I'd bet it was a milk snake, not a copperhead. Milk snakes, like rat snakes, are superior climbers and inclined to live near houses. Copperheads are more reclusive and typically live among rocks and dead leaves on the forest floor.
My wife is another example of how attitudes change over time. She has always hated snakes. Today she says, "I'm not afraid of snakes. I know they aren't going to attack me or hurt me, and I know they keep rodent populations under control. They simply repulse me. I think it's their lidless eyes and legless locomotion I can't stand."
(Snake eyes are protected by a clear scale that is replaced each time a snake sheds its skin. That's why they have no eyelids.)
Linda takes it one step further. "I think it was Carl Sagan who explained that humans' deep-seated fear of snakes was biological, dating back to prehistoric times when big snakes posed a real threat to human life," she explained.
So perhaps biological memory is partially to blame for some people's fear of snakes. But it's a fear that can be overcome. I commend Linda for her tolerance and understanding that not every snake must be killed.
Experience also plays a major role in molding attitudes about snakes. When my daughters were little girls, I often caught small snakes and let them hold and admire them. As adults, older daughter Nora has no problem with snakes. Emma, on the other hand, was scarred by what in her 5-year-old mind was a traumatic event.
While an 8-inch milk snake glided through her fingers, it somehow got its teeth stuck on the tip of her pinky finger. Emma says it bit her. In any case, for a few seconds Emma had a tiny snake attached to her fingertip. No blood was shed, but more than 20 years later, snakes still terrify her.
So, thanks to all who wrote thanking me for defending snakes. We're making progress.
Send questions and comments to Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033, or email sshala...@aol.com.