My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Rarest Thing I Almost Touched

When I was about nine or ten years old, my older brother came running up to me with a covered bucket and a glint in his eye.

(Warning, brothers, buckets, and glints are not good signs.)

“Look what I have,” he said.

I knew it was a test. I got plenty of those since I was female and younger. I was also stubborn and didn’t want to fail.

So I looked.

Now you have to give me credit. I didn’t scream. I didn’t run. But my heart was pounding in my eardrums.

If I had screamed and ran, then he would have chased me with the thing. So I casually draped my hand on the edge of the bucket, my fingers hanging just inside, just far enough so I could jerk them out if the thing moved, but also far enough in to prove I wasn’t scared.

I don't remember exactly what I said, but it must have been something like: "Whoa. Cool! Where'd you find that?"

Apparently I passed the test, because my brother left me alone.

So what was the thing laying a mere 8 inches below my hand? Well, I don’t really know, even now. But I do know it’s very rare, and it didn’t belong in Montana.

It was a worm-like blind, white snake. And it was hard to tell the head from the tail, because the tail looked just like a head. This picture is very close to it:

If I remember right, it was bigger than the biggest worm I’d ever seen, yet smaller than a garter snake – maybe ten inches to a foot long.

All these years later, even with the wonders of the internet, the closest I’ve come to identifying it is it’s either a Xenotyphlops, a Typhlopiae or a Ramphotyphlops braminus (all blind worm-like snakes of varying colors) and none of them like the cold.

My brother found this one deep under a rock when he was digging out a new fort.

Soon all my siblings had to run the same test.

But the crowning moment came when they called our mom out. Yup, she screamed. Yup, she jerked. No, she didn’t run. (Even if she had, my brother wasn't crazy enough to chase her with it.)

But she did back up and demand that whatever that crazy thing was, take it FAR, FAR away and don't bring it back--EVERRRRR.

And you don’t mess with Mom, so off it went.

But I have some wonderful images burned on my brain, and every so often, I pull them up and enjoy them once again. But I think I would have had an entirely different take if I'd failed the test . . .

Oh, well. Thank heavens for small blessings.

So, what's the craziest thing you found during your childhood?


  1. That thing is creepy. Hmmm what crazy things did we find? lots of snakes, a few arrow heads, weevil in our secret stash of coconut. (That's why I can't eat it now. Shudder.) And lots of baby kittens.

  2. Leisha, wow, arrow heads are cool! Did you find near your home?

  3. Jonene, I'm about to rock your wormy world. I know what this thing is. My son did a whole report on it last year in second grade. It's a caecilian, a worm/snake-like amphibian. Here's a wiki link:

    I'm so happy I could help you figure out this mystery! I didn't know they even existed until he told me about them.

  4. Lydia, that is too crazy! And it's quite a coincidence that your son did a report on it - wow! One mystery down. Thanks a million!


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