The cohort stayed in Seattle for the first part of Week 6 and then we went out to Eastern Washington. Moses Coulee was our destination - a place that was like a desert but wasn't quite a desert. Okay fine. It wasn't a desert but it was very dry. We drove by stretches of dry grass and low shrubs. We also drove past agricultural lands which provided a visually appealing contrast to the un-irrigated vegetation. The theme for this week was "Food and Islands of Habitat". We spent the first half looking at urban and community gardens around Seattle and talking about food systems. (I want to spend more time learning about where my food comes from and where it goes.) During our time at Moses Coulee, we visited a large organic farm and then learned about the shrub landscape and conservation issues related to fire, water dynamics and invasive species.

I'll start with Moses Coulee because I encountered a rattlesnake and I think that was one of my favourite parts of the week. A group of us went on a hike to a cliff facing the house we stayed in. We were trying to beat the sunset and we succeeded. I could try to describe the view - how the (almost full) moon looked, and the colours the sun made across the sky - but it was one of those moments that words and pictures could never do justice. I'll never remember exactly what I saw but that makes it even more valuable.

My aim was to head down before it got too dark so Kiki and I started back. We talked on the way down and strayed from the trail but we saw someone else and made it back on track. As we walked, it was getting darker (which is what usually happens when the sun sets) but we weren't worried about not having a flashlight. We were back on flat ground and less than five minutes from the house. That's when things became interesting. Two of our friends were about fifteen meters ahead of us. They called out and told us to stop and listen. They were standing near a rattlesnake.

Now if I had walked by myself, I would have assumed that locusts or crickets or some form of insect was making the noise and headed straight toward an angry rattlesnake. Thank goodness I wasn't feeling adventurous and Kiki was with me. They told us it was somewhere on the path and it was pissed. My instinct was to sit down and abandon all hope but Kiki was the voice of reason. He led us off the trail and used a stick to check for other snakes. I'm trying to sort out the thoughts that were going through my head then.

  • Disbelief at our rotten luck. One of our guest speakers has worked at Moses Coulee for more than ten years and has come in contact with four or five. We spend two days and get a rattlesnake angry. 
  • Gratitude for friends who can keep calm and sort out a plan. 
  • Appreciation for my sister's boots because we were walking in slightly prickly shrubs and grasses. (You'd think I would have had deeper thoughts than shoes.)

That's what I felt in the moment. Immediately after I felt relieved. Even later, when I stood outside and looked at the landscape by the light of the moon (it sounds dramatic but that's how it was) I was almost grateful for the snake. Things like that help me to put life and thoughts and concerns I have into perspective. There are times when I worry about my future or what people think of me or of what I should/shouldn't be doing on a daily basis. Imagine how all of that would change if I got a bite from a poisonous snake.

It's also pretty cool that we ran into a poisonous snake.

Now that I reread this post, I think I'll end with that. I wrote my food systems thoughts in my journal and it's definitely something that I want to look into more. It's Week 7 and it's August. Tomorrow is also Independence Day in Jamaica. =D

I hope August started off well for whoever's reading this. Oh! Last thing. I have two public service announcements to make. One is for friends from home who are making quality podcasts. The name is Take 4 and it gives me joy. The second is my friend, Viraj, who essentially got me to know about this place and this program. His blog is here.

The song is "Smile Jamaica" by Chronixx because I like Chronixx, I like smiling, and my country turns 53 tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Ayyy! I get a shoutout ;)
    And awww, hear the proud Jamaican :)

    1. Haha [= But of course - on both accounts.


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