Overcoming fears


By Kathy Cool

Darke Co. Parks

In a previous article I wrote, I shared many memories of how I grew up. Growing up in the country and living in an old 1800’s farmhouse was interesting, to say the least! This old house had creepy crawlies, including HUGE spiders and black snakes.

When I say the spiders were HUGE, they were of course HUGE to me as a child. They were big ole wolf spiders, aka Barn Spiders. These things had a body the size of a tank and legs that were a foot long (in my child mind).

When I grew up, as an adult, I still did not like these things. I have now worked at Darke County Parks for the past three years as the Volunteer Coordinator, let’s say, that I realize the spiders were not THAT big. For example, in my younger days, if I saw a spider, I would automatically pick up anything I could reach and squash it! In my world, I did not need spiders in the house. Since being at the parks and working with the Naturalists who love all these living things, I have developed a slight tolerance and appreciation for spiders and even snakes.

For example, the other day I was taking laundry out of the dryer and folding it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big wolf spider sitting on one of my husband’s tee shirts that was folded up. At first, I thought about grabbing my laundry soap bottle and slamming it down on top of it. Then, I said to myself, “What would Megan, our resident spider whisperer, do? I already knew the answer- she would pick it up and put it outside. So, I folded up some paper towels (really a lot of towels), placed them on top of the spider, and gently squeezed my hand to pick it up. With my arm extended out as far as it would go, I took the spider outside and put it in my flower garden by our front door. I felt pretty proud of myself, as I wiped the sweat from my forehead! I then turned around to go back into the house and I told that spider; “ I better not see you back in the house again or I may not be that nice next time!”

Another example of overcoming some of my fear of snakes is when Margaret Hensel, our Parks “Snake Whisperer” comes in on Tuesdays and gets the snakes out to “play with them”. Can you imagine that?! I could think of a hundred things I would rather play with! Watching her handle and talk to them, I have realized that most snakes in our area are not aggressive and aren’t out to hurt us. It has taken me a while, but whenever I am in the classroom, I do stop to talk to the snakes and turtles. How brave, since they are behind glass enclosures!

I have to say that working with all the great Naturalists, I have gained an appreciation of the most creepy, crawly creatures!

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