Snakes

I’m sure you know they live in the country.  I wish they preferred concrete and air conditioning, preferably in the city, but they seem to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.  And they like my garage.  I hate snakes mostly because they scare me.  They scare me because they show up when I least expect them (like: “I just had my hand down in all those weeds how was I to know you were there?”) and because I don’t want anything with long, sharp fangs to bite me or even act like it’s going to bite me. 

As a child I had several encounters with snakes and two very brave parents.  Once I was headed to the outhouse and a large snake decided to park itself between me and my destination.  My screams brought my mother running out of the house (my grandmother’s) and she promptly beheaded it with a hoe! 

On another occasion my dad was fishing with one of my cousins (in case you wondered, most of my cousins lived in the country) who happened to look up and see a snake hanging down from a branch above my dad’s head.  My cousin, Virgil captured the thing by holding it by the neck while the rest of its body coiled around his arm.  He brought the trophy home for us to see and we stuffed it (dead) in an old glass jug, filled it with alcohol and took it to show and tell for many years to come.  By the way, my 90-year-old mother still keeps that jug in her attic!

The first sign of the existence of snakes on my patch of dream land was lodged between the garage doors the first summer we lived here.  I don’t know how long it hung there before my horrified eyes discovered it.  The entire skin from neck to tail – all in one piece - neatly wrapped – a gift just for me.  After that I thought I should stomp around in my garage and move things with my hoe handle before reaching behind or between things.   So when an innocent frog hopped around under some old plastic bags, I did not hesitate to investigate with my trusted hoe (while standing on the seat of our riding mower).

 My husband sighted one still in its skin but failed to tell me for a very long time (due to his “don’t alarm the happy lady” vow) until I was standing beneath the very tree the snake slithered up to avoid a shredding death by lawn mower. 

Several summers ago I found two hiding – again – around the garage (maybe they like concrete after all).  Because they weren’t adults, I was brave enough to actually use my hoe.  I know, I know – don’t disturb the balance of nature.  Well, you tell that to a woman in full fight or flight, adrenaline pumpin’, palm sweatin’, heart racing mode and I promise you there will be too much blood pumping in her ears for her to hear you.  On a side note, I actually saved them in a sealed baggie in the freezer until I could ask a more seasoned snake fighter to identify them.  Which no one ever did.  And another thing, isn’t there some law that you can defend yourself from an intruder…if they enter your house.  Don’t you think the garage counts as part of the house?  Let’s say it does.

This spring i started smelling something very dead - yes - in the garage!  I couldn't seem to find the source even though I looked along the walls, behind garden tools and under flower pots.  I decided to give up the search and moved to another job - placing bird netting over my blackberry bushes.  And then I found it - the snake had slithered up my corner shelf and wrapped itself in my bird netting!  How it got it's body through those small holes is beyond me.  Apparently getting into the netting was easier than getting out - thus the smell.  Ugh!

The Tennessee government website tells us how to identify venomous snakes which have heat sensing pits behind the nostrils and eliptical pupils.  Like I'm going to get close enough to a snake's head to see the shape of its pupils!

I’ve lived in Louisiana and Florida and Kentucky and seen my share of rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and all the “harmless” ones that won’t kill you, but I still think there is enough city girl left in me that I will never, ever enjoy sharing my space with anything that slithers, hisses and bites.  I’ll look under rocks any day for big, juicy earthworms to feed my chickens, but they don’t scare me – this city girl knows they don’t have teeth!