It was a sunny day around 1980, which would put me about five years old. I was riding in a dusty sky-blue '72 Chevy pickup called Blue-tcher, a name I had given it when I was a toddler because I couldn't say "blue truck." My father was driving. The road was probably somewhere in the reforested area between Sulphur and DeQuincy, Louisiana. We were most likely on one of my dad's scouting trips--he was always on the lookout for new hunting spots--or maybe we were just out for a ride so he could relieve some stress. I would learn all about driving to relieve stress later in my life.
A seemingly inconsequential thing happened then, but it was something that would ultimately make a huge impact on the rest of my life: a ribbon snake shot across the road in front of the truck.
"Get it for me, Daddy!" I didn't think he really would. But then he was out, the truck barely stopped, he cleared the ditch in a leap and landed on the snake an instant before it would have disappeared behind a barbed-wire fence. Seconds later it was in my hand, biting and musking. My first snake.
I don't remember what ever happened to that snake. I'm sure it escaped (perhaps with help from my mom) or died due to my lack of experience. I DO know that it was followed by a number of other ribbon snakes over the years and that it sparked an interest in reptiles that has never waned.
My father was never into reptiles, but that didn't stop him from bringing home the occasional turtle, lizard or snake for me. Anything scaly that he found on a construction site was destined to be loved by his little boy.