Monday, May 28, 2012

And the Oscar Goes to the Bull Snake

A couple of years ago, we replaced the windows in our house.  I expected extra dust, noise, flies, and the inconvenience of having an open window on a hundred degree plus July day, but I didn’t expect an Oscar quality actor to drop in.

One thing about living in the country, something unexpected always happens.  Because of our remodeling project, I faced one of my most dreaded fears—a snake in the kitchen.  Reading in the living, surrounded by my three dogs and my daughter’s two dogs, I was enjoying a quiet summer morning out of the heat.  Suddenly, I heard an unexplained large thump, and all five dogs began a frenzied barking at something in the kitchen.

I dragged them out of the house and returned to see what seemed like a monstrous-sized coiled snake parked in the dark shadows of a little desk in our kitchen.  Due to the poor lighting, I had to depend on sound and shadows to make a decision about the kind of snake faced me.

In full coil and rattling like a baby on steroids, the snake hissed and thrust its head my direction, raising my blood pressure and heart rate to alarming levels.  Unfortunately, that little desk happened  to be between the garage entry and the back door, which limited my choices about how to deal with this slithery surprise.  While I didn’t know much except that my heart felt like it was going to beat its way out of my chest, I did know I didn’t want that snake going anywhere else to surprise me later.

 All this time, I was frantically trying to call the resident game warden for professional assistance.  Naturally, he was teaching a Hunter Safety class and had turned off his phone.  Then I tried to call my daughter and her husband at Home Depot, but they didn’t answer either.  At this point, I realized I had to deal with this issue on my own right then or worry every time I opened a drawer or closet or when I slipped out of bed each morning. 

My first thought was a shotgun blast would do the job, but then I realized I would ruin the floor we had  replaced a few years earlier.  I work too hard to finance replacing a perfectly good floor, so I had to consider other resources.  That brought to mind the hoe on the other side of the door just feet from that angry snake.  I would have to go the long way out the front door to retrieve my weapon of choice.  But how did I keep the snake right where it was?

I wanted that snake in one spot, unable to crawl away, so I got close enough to tick Mr. Hiss Pot into a risen coil while I dashed to the bedroom for a pair of shoes.  Once I had my shoes on the right feet—try to put your shoes on when you’re in panic mode, I feinted at the snake again, making it stand on its tail so I had time to rush out the front door to the garage to get a hoe.

While I grabbed the hoe, my daughter called.  Hearing my shrill voice and the words snake in the kitchen caused her to pass the phone off to my son-in-law who grew up on a farm where he has dealt with more than his share of snakes.  He calmly told me to throw a blanket or a basket on top of the snake to confine it until I could decide exactly what to do.

Once again, I tormented the snake into standing up mode so I could race to the back bedroom to grab an empty laundry basket.  With basket and hoe in hand, I returned to the shadowy kitchen to face every woman’s mortal enemy since the time of Eve.

Still uncertain exactly what kind of snake I combatted, I took precautions to avoid a bite.  Thankfully, my aim was better than usual with the basket, and I covered the creature with the first toss.  That gave me a moment to catch my breath and prepare the coup d’état for when it stuck its head out from under the lip of the basket.  I suspect the snake knew what was coming, but it was all over before any of us could think about it.  Lizzie Borden had nothing on me that morning.

After my heart slowed to a rhythm that allowed me to hear nothing but the refrigerator running, I could tell my reptilian intruder had taken his last breath.  When I lifted basket off the still writhing but nearly headless body, I realized I had witnessed one of nature’s greatest acting performances.  That foolish bull snake should have never taken on the persona of a rattlesnake.  I might have been willing to forgive its intrusion and give it a lift outside.  As it was, that day was its greatest and final performance.

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