I love nature…from afar. And by that, I mostly mean the wild creatures within it. I love playing in the ocean, but would much rather the little critters in there just move aside while I’m in the water. And a hike would be much more rejuvenating to me if I weren’t looking out for surprises on the trail. I’ve never been camping, nor do I have any desire to go, since my idea of it would be sleeping in a motel rather than a hotel. Sounds quite pampered, I know, and I’m well aware that I wouldn’t make a good contestant on Survivor. I do love nature; I just don’t need to be so darned close to it.
So the beginning of our much-dreamed-about Australia vacation tested my ability to embrace nature, and in some cases it tested my nerves.
I loved, loved, loved the complete disconnect when we first arrived. Staying with friends in a remote area right on the beach, there was no TV, no internet, and no alarm clock. We didn’t shower and “get ready” every day because we simply relaxed. It was heaven.
I was a little tense about the possibility of creatures around me, but I tried to embrace the little sand crabs and strange sounding insects/animals in the beginning. On day three, however, I was put to the test. While peacefully hanging our laundry in the breezeway between the two living units, I heard a crinkling sound that I simply couldn’t identify. I kept sorting clothes, and the crinkling continued. My eyes finally solved the mystery upon seeing, about four yards away, a very large snake slinking down the wall from the roof into a plastic bag that was hanging on the wall. I should have – and actually do – feel quite lucky that the snake was kind enough to slink straight into the bag. I never did have to see its head or see how long it was. After un-freezing my stance and getting all the girls out of the back room, I calmly went to my host and his guest and told him there was a snake in a bag in the breezeway.
They got the bag and were fascinated during the release. “Don’t worry,” they said, “it’s just a carpet snake. It’s harmless.” I didn’t stick around long enough to see the snake slither into the woods, all 8-feet of it. Gulp.
I’m not sure how I slept that night.
However, the next day was the true test. As my daughter brushed her teeth in the guest bathroom, I saw the largest spider I’ve ever seen in my entire life on our wall. Spiders are one of my greatest fears. Ever. I’ve been known to call neighbors to come take care of tiny ones (comparatively) if home alone. I am totally, irrationally shaken up at the sight of spiders. No clue where this fear developed, but it’s been with me my entire life and I don’t expect to change any time soon. Once again, our lovely host carefully “saved” the creature (I was told that it was another harmless breed, a huntsman spider) and released it into the wild. He told me that it hopped away. A spider. Hopped. I also noticed that this spider had only six legs. I can’t help but wonder if my friendly snake ate the other two? It was at that point that I told our hosts I thought it was time to move on. I slept fitfully that night, and we left the next day (ok, so we were already scheduled to leave at that time, but it sounds so much more dramatic this way).
I loved every second of that part of our journey, I honestly did. We saw fields of wild kangaroos, had beach bonfires, and treasured serene moments. But the snake and spider did provide me with the ultimate test of my oneness with nature. I still love it. But I do prefer it from afar.