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Central Oregon Landscape Photography and The Amazing Snake Handling Nymph of Tumalo Reservoir

Earlier this spring(2009) My daughter, Emma and I had one of our many Daddy/Daughter days when My wife, Debbie was working .  As is often the case, we decided that a hike would be a pleasant way to pass the day.  I noticed some interesting clouds in the area slightly northwest of Bend, so I decided that a drive to Tumalo Reservoir would be a worthwhile journey for both Emma and I.  The views of  Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Mountains are great from Tumalo Reservoir and from some areas of the reservoir, the Sisters are nicely reflected in the water.

Photo/Picture of the Three Sisters reflected in Central Oregon's Tumalo Reservoir

Photo/Picture of the Three Sisters reflected in Central Oregon's Tumalo Reservoir

The above photo of Tumalo Reservoir taken on a different morning shows the Three Sisters nicely reflected.

Part of the reason that I felt Tumalo Reservoir would be a good destination was because Emma enjoys playing around water and the last time she and I had been there, we had seen several snakes which frightened but intrigued her.  She’d been pining to see the snakes again but from a distance.

As we drove into the  area, we crossed over a bridge at the east end of the reservoir where I stopped and captured the following image.

Photo/Picture of Central Oregon's Three Sisters seen above Tumalo Reservoir

Photo/Picture of Central Oregon's Three Sisters seen above Tumalo Reservoir

Pleasant clouds and an interesting shoreline had already made this a worthy day-trip.  Only one thing troubled me.  There was a mother and two children playing along the shores of the lake, occasionally interfering with my landscape photography.  They seemed to be pleasantly playing but they weren’t helping my cause.  Emma and I hiked along the southern edge of the reservoir until the mother and children were out of the way.  The photos from that part of the hike were not inspirational but we did have a bit of excitement.  First, I’ll give you a bit more background.  My daughter, Emma is definitely a Girly-Girl.  I mean this in the sweetest way possible.  She loves clothes, she loves dolls, she fusses with hairstyles constantly.  To sum up, she is no Tom-boy.  Despite her girly ways, she does enjoy controlled adventures.  Well on this day, the banks of the Reservoir were especially muddy.  While I was taking pictures of the Three Sisters, Emma got bogged down in mud and lost a shoe.  We were both entertained and decided it was best to not get too close to the water’s edge.  After I’d gotten the photos I wanted, we worked our way back to where we’d parked.  Along the way, I scouted some more photos.  While taking one last shot, I heard a feminine screech, which could only come from one person and it could only mean one thing.  Emma had seen a snake!  She was simultaneously terrified and thrilled.  Unfortunately, I was too slow with my camera and I missed this hilarious photo opportunity.  With my moral support, she wanted to find another snake.   She soon got her wish!  As this snake wasn’t a surprise, there were no shrill screeches to fill the air!

As we approached the canal at the east end of the reservoir, we  once again saw the Mother and her two children, the oldest of which was a little girl about Emma’s age.  They were on the opposite side of the muddy canal when the older child said what I thought was “should I catch them a snake, Mommy?”  Knowing that my ears had deceived me, we continued on towards the car.  The little girl began scurrying along the the shore and in the water with a flurry of activity.  Emma and I were intrigued.  The little girl then proceeded to wade waste deep across the mud bottomed canal.  The same canal that held shoe-sucking quick sand and flesh eating snakes!  She was absolutely intrepid and totally indifferent to any aquatic obstacles in her way.  As she neared us, Emma’s eyes widened to unprecedented widths!  The little girls hands were full of sticks, No……They were full of snakes!

Photo of the amazing snake charmer of Tumalo Reservoir!

Photo of the amazing snake charmer of Tumalo Reservoir!

Keep in mind that I don’t have any kind of snake phobia, but I don’t like them surprising me either.  Well this enchanting and fearless little girl was completely unfazed about the snakes writhing around her arms.  As she shared her find, the snakes became completely calm in her hands.  She explained that they were very friendly and that we should hold them.  Emma almost had a heart attack!  Eventually I worked up the courage to hold one snake and indeed it eventually calmed in my hand.  Emma took a little more cajoling.  Below is a photo of Emma building the courage to touch one of the snake charmers’ pets.

The snake charmer and Emma building courage to do the impossible!

The snake charmer and Emma building courage to do the impossible!

Obviously, Emma is excited and hesitant while the snake-handling nymph is completely at ease with the snakes.  I was astounded!  After many minutes of confidence building exercises, Emma eventually summoned the courage to hold a solitary snake.

My daughter Emma bravely holds what was once a flesh-eating garter snake!

My daughter Emma bravely holds what was once a flesh-eating garter snake!

I was very proud of her and I was simply amazed by the unknown little girl who was fearless and charming at the same time.  For entertainment purposes, scroll up to the snake charmer and back down to Emma to assess their different comfort levels.

If anybody who reads this blog entry happens to know who the snake charming nymph of Tumalo Reservoir is, please contact me as I’d like to thank her and her mother for sharing with us.  She was enchanting, charming, polite, personable, fearless, and entertaining.  She truly brightened our day and the whole event was something that Emma and I will remember forever.  Thanks!

To view more Central Oregon landscape photography of the Three Sisters and Tumalo Reservoir, please visit our stock photography site, Pacific Crest Stock Photography

by: Mike Putnam