Gung Hay Fat Choy! Farewell to the dragon and hello to the snake, which to me is the least lovable sign of the Chinese zodiac. However, looking back, I was surprised to see how many times I have written about them, starting with a story in 1999 about my own son helping his girlfriend kill mice for her pet boa.
In 2002, I wrote about Bridget and Jason Lane, biology students at the now defunct Lawrenceville Campus of Georgia Perimeter College who co-founded the school's Paradox Herps Herpetological Society and conducted field trips through swamps where students could have fun handling snakes.
For Russell Manley, a fluvial geomorphologist -- that's someone who restores streams back to their original paths -- standing in a stream hip deep in mud trying to get water moccasins to go with the flow was not his idea of fun. But, it was his job and a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do! It's been five years since I wrote about Manley and his moccasins, and he's still hanging in there doing his job.
In 2007, a lady in Duluth known as Miss Frannie had her whole neighborhood come to her rescue when she sucked up a snake in her vacuum cleaner. A kindly gentleman managed to save both the snake -- and Miss Frannie.
And speaking of rescues, one of my favorite columns was about Rose the rescue snake. I was subbing at Arcado Elementary and just my luck, Pete Griffin of the DNR was doing a snake show that day. I was wishing I could find a sub, but, alas, I had to do my job. However, the star of the show, Rose, was quite a charmer. This seven-foot-long Colombian red tail boa had a huge gash on her forehead and pneumonia when Griffin rescued her from an abusive owner. Somehow, he turned her into a people-friendly snake and as I petted her and talked baby talk to her I just knew I had a column there.
My most recent serpentine subject was Copernicus, a pet snake at Lilburn Elementary. I faced a room full of kids, most of whom spoke little English and the teacher had left no lesson plans. Having the kids talk about Copernicus rescued me from a potential disaster.
Then there was the snake column I was never able to write. A friend had a Vietnamese neighbor who brewed snake wine in a clear glass jug with a dead snake curled up at the bottom. From what I understand, this concoction is sort of an Asian version of Viagra. I thought it would be cool to showcase the cultural diversity of our county, but the gentleman was not interested. However, we don't need him or his recipe because now you can order your own snake wine at www.asiansnakewine.com.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.