Earth Day as a special event once a year had never really meant much to me

Earth Day as a special event once a year had never really meant much to me. But last year was different. For the first time I decided to participate in an Earth Day celebration event in my town of Reston, Virginia together with my 2-year old daughter, Anna. The event, which featured a native plant sale, stories and music by clowns, face painting, etc. was definitely fun but it was what happened afterwards that made this particular Earth Day memorable.

I should mention that Reston is one of only a few so-called planned communities in the U.S., which intentionally set aside green-space and ensured that even us townhouse dwellers have a buffer of trees. A suburb outside the nation’s capital, it has become an oasis for wildlife amidst a sea of highways and buildings.

After the ‘official’ Earth Day activities, Anna and I decided to take a stroll in the woods behind our townhouse development. It was late afternoon. The sun beat down warmly on the grassy meadow leading into the woods and the air was completely still. As we started to the well-worn forest path down to the creek, a loud, dry rattle penetrated the still afternoon and stopped us in our tracks. As my eyes adjusted to the shadows at the forest’s edge, I spied a four foot long Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake stretched out across the path, its rattle still quivering. Anna and I peered at it for quite some time from where we stood. I explained to her that the snake was warning us not to come any closer. Then we went home and looked the snake up in our reference book and sure enough we had a match. Knowing definitively that there were snakes living in the woods outside our homes, made that particularly Earth Day stand out. We’re planning another afternoon stroll to the same path this weekend.

Contributed by Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs

Share This Post On


  1. I am excited for your experience but was wondering isn’t Reston outside of the Diamondbacks’ usual habitat range? As far as I have known the Copperhead, Cotton Mouth, and Timber Rattlesnake were the only poisonous snakes in Virginia. With the copperhead being the only one found in Fairfax County. Historically the Timber rattler has been found in Loudoun, so it’s highly concievable that the have begun moving east. But the Diamond back would be slightly out of region. If you could let me know what you know about this i would be greatful. Thanks for the time. Kris

  2. Kristin,

    Thanks for your comment. Well, I can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty that it was an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake but it certainly seemed to match my pocketguide. I did check with a biologist on staff with the Reston Association who seemed to think this was entirely possible. I’ve also heard that ranges are moving northward as Virginia’s climate becomes more like North Carolina’s.

    Hope that’s somewhat helpful…..


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *