Our moral values, our emotions, our loves are no less real for being part of nature, for being shared with the animal world, or for being determined by the evolution that our species has undergone over millions of years. Rather, they are more valuable as a result of this: they are real. They are the complex reality of which we are made. Our reality is tears and laughter, gratitude and altruism, loyalty and betrayal, the past that haunts us and serenity. Our reality is made up of our societies, of the emotion inspired by music, of the rich intertwined networks of the common knowledge that we have constructed together. All of this is part of the self-same “nature” that we are describing. We are an integral part of nature; we are nature, in one of its innumerable and infinitely variable expressions.
This gave me a little jolt of excitement over the Labor Day holiday weekend. I apologize for the redundancy of my words (I was still jittery when trying to film the video) and the ineptitude of my editing skills. I haven’t figured out how to zoom in the video except on my phone. This is the fourth Timber Rattlesnake I have encountered in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park out of a total of six that I have come across in the wild. The other two were encountered while hiking on Springer Mountain, in North Georgia. In two of the cases I stepped well within strike distance of the snakes. Thankfully, every rattlesnake remained very stable during the encounter and at most, simply produced a peaceful warning that was easy to hear and identify. If you turn up the volume, the rattling can be heard for the first 10-15 secs of the video. The rattle movement is also easy to see during this time frame.
I do not support the needless killing of snakes and I would ask anyone predisposed to such a reflex to thoughtfully reconsider their approach. I understand that sometimes such action may be necessary, but most often it is just an irrational fear response.