April 29, 2010

Year of the Snake

Supposedly, according to the Chinese this is the Year of the Tiger. After the things I've experienced in the last few weeks I'm considering putting in a call to the Chinese government to discuss with them the possibility that there might have been a mistake. Surely it is the Year of the Snake.

This revelation hasn't come upon me suddenly, but only after an accumulation of various incidents that began with a casual Facebook post and ended up... well, I'll get to that in a minute.

About four weeks ago I was sitting in my office and during my post-lunch what-should-I-do-next motivational regrouping I checked my Facebook account and noticed that one of the people at my son's daycare posted the following on her status: OH MY GOSH!!!!!! I almost just got bit by a snake! Everybody be careful.

So I sit there for a moment and contemplate the urge I'm feeling to call the daycare and start screaming questions like WHERE IS MY SON and WHY ARE THERE SNAKES AT DAYCARE and THIS IS MORE PROOF THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL AND THAT WE'RE LIVING IN A TROPICAL NIGHTMARE FILLED WITH DANGER AND DEATH AT EVERY TURN! But then I managed to not do any of that and went on to do some really important stuff like look at knitting patterns and blogs work.

Another couple of weeks go by and I have to show some houses to a new client. I live in the country, so I'm accustomed to going out and tromping in the woods and being careful where I step and all that. Occasionally I do what I call "city real estate" and show houses in a subdivision. It's a nice change because I don't have to worry about ticks and snakes and people playing banjos.

I showed three or four houses, the last of which was the best and I thought this could possibly be the one they would decide was right for them. We finished touring the house and went out the garage and their very tall son reached up to pull the garage door down and, unbelievably, winding its way toward him was a ginormous black snake on the garage door.

Calmly he said, "Uh, there's a snake on the garage door."

I said, "Whoa. Yeah.  Hrm.  Well, you know it's spring.  They're starting to warm up and come back to life.  Welcome to country life."  I looked around at house after house that all looked the same in this cookie cutter subdivision and rolled my eyes at myself.

There's really no good way to put a marketing spin on a snake crawling across the garage door that you're holding onto.

So, we did all we could do which was basically slam the garage door onto the snake which then proceeded to wiggle its way out, but into the garage. I called the agent who listed the house and told her what had happened. She asked me if the snake was in the house.  I said, "Well, I don't know... I didn't go back in and look."  Probably she will never let me show one of her houses again because the time before locking a snake in her house I accidentally locked some of her renters out of a house. (How was I supposed to know they didn't have a key to their own house?)

I finally recovered from that episode and it was nearly forgotten for a while. Last weekend the weather was wonderful and I spent a lot of time out on the screened porch and daydreamed and watched neighbors walk by and birds swoop in and out of view. Rob and Julius spent time on the street practicing on the bike with no training wheels. They'd go down the street for a while and eventually appear back with Julius pedaling furiously and Rob huffing and puffing behind him.

Once they returned with them both walking and I was certain they'd probably been in an accident. They looked rushed and walked with purpose. As they got closer I noticed Rob had something in his hands and finally could make out that it was a very long snake. Nothing I wanted to see, that's for sure, but the boys insisted.  This is the thing about living with a man and two boys... they like all this stuff.  Nobody wants to talk to me about crafts, but they are all over it if it has scales or monster truck wheels.

Wound around Rob's arm was an electric green grass snake. And even I had to admit it was a wonder among snakes. It was sleek and elegant looking and the most brilliant color I've ever seen in nature. They found it when it had lunged out of the trees by the road and snapped up a spider to eat. We looked at it a while, got pictures of it, got pooped on by it and then the boys took it back out to the trees and let it go.

All day long, no matter what topic I brought up, all the boys would talk about was the snake and how they wished they could keep it and why can't they have a pet snake and why aren't there more cool snakes in the yard and why can't I take it to school and let's show grandma and let's go back and look for it again and on and on.

But even then it really wasn't until tonight that I decided we're really in for some kind of reptilian adventures this summer.  I called my mom on the phone to tell her that Tristan was ready for their fun day tomorrow. The sitter is out and Tristan and Mom will be hitting all the carport sales. He came up to me while I was doing the dishes tonight and wanted to know if Grandma had a car seat. He's quite concerned that she come prepared for tomorrow.

She answered the phone a little breathless. I knew she would be outside doing yard work because that's what she always does when spring comes around.

"What are you doing," I asked.

"I just killed a copperhead," she panted.

"That's so gross."

"Well, it almost got me."  I could hear her walking as we talked on the phone.  "I saved it for Julius so he could see it."

"Oh, great because that's what I like him to see is a snake with a big bloody neck gash." I assumed she had wacked off his head with a hoe or shovel because that's how most people do it around here.

Then she said, "Oh no."


"I left it here on the rock so Julius could see it and it's moved..."

Oh why can't she just do things normally like most moms -- like throw her tools to the ground and run screaming into the house or maybe just dance around in a panic until the snake slithers off terrified into the underbrush.

"Seriously? Are you sure you killed it? Did you cut its head off?"

"No, I smashed it with a rock. Well, I had to do it twice.  The first time I threw a big rock on it and it didn't kill it so I had to get another rock and hit it in the head again."

"How do you know you didn't just knock it unconscious?"

"Because I smashed it's head."

"Listen... I read about a guy today who got shot through the eye into his brain and also shot in his jaw and he wasn't supposed to live, but he did. That's way worse than some lady throwing a rock on your head."

She thought about it for a minute. "No, he's dead. He's here just next to the rock.  I'll put him back on the rock and leave him and if he's still there in the morning, then he was dead, see?"

"Yeah, and if he's not there he's probably lying in wait for you, hoping he will have better luck next time."

And so, at another mother-daughter impasse, we said our goodbyes. There was nothing left to say about it until tomorrow morning when she walks across the dew-covered yard to see if there is still a dead snake lying on a rock.

I never thought I'd find myself saying I hope a snake is there when she comes back.


  1. OMG I laughed so hard at this whole post!! 1st, what's the deal with daycare? Is the snake gone? Why was it there?? That's scary to me.. 2nd, I assume you didn't sell the house? Maybe you could sell it to a rock band...you know, they kinda dig snakes... and 4th... ok, 3rd, I was just seeing if you were paying attention ;) I hope the snake is still there when she goes back too. Did you know that you could run over a snakes head and he'll live? Unless you lock the brakes up while directly on it's head it doesn't kill it. Crazy huh?

  2. Yep, sounds like it's definitely the year of the snake!

  3. Tonight I attended an event featuring readings by different authors, and the first one was by a woman who had been in the Peace Corps in Gabon, and was about - guess what? Her experience of killing a snake with a machete.

    Also, my 2 and 1/2 year old keeps talking about snakes, and I have no idea why.

  4. Dang, that Copperhead thing is wicked looking. Imagine if a bunch of tigers kept popping out. That would be scarier than the snakes.

  5. So funny, I love the line
    .......and people playing banjos.

    The theme from Deliverence is in my head.

  6. Hilarious!

    The snake in the garage would have been too much for me!

    As for that copperhead, I NEVER want to see one up close and personal.

    I have little tiny snakes in my rock garden. I wish they would slither somewhere else. ;-)

  7. Yikes! I do NOT like snakes. Nope. I don't care if they are harmless or not. I don't want to see one. I don't want to hold one. And I don't want to pet one. Amen.

  8. Hi!--I just happened across your blog when browsing recent blogs of note on blogger! I am adding it to follow! This post is hilarious--great writing. Kudos!

  9. Love your stories about your mom. She sounds like one interesting lady.

  10. Bwahhahahahahahaha! Thanks for the laugh!

  11. Hahaha! Your Mom sounds great!! I know, it's OK for me to laugh, sitting over here in snakeless England, isn't it? Well, virtually snakeless, anyway. Actually I did see a black adder only a mile or so away from our house a few years back, and I've seen two or three grass snakes, but they're harmless.

    I loved this sentence:

    "It's a nice change because I don't have to worry about ticks and snakes and people playing banjos."

    LOL! Perfect!

  12. We found a snake in our chicken house the other day. I was there with the door open, putting up the hardware cloth and opening their windows to give them some air. The chickens were all at the door talking to me, when all of a sudden, half of them were over by the back door.

    "what the... OH MY GOD SNAKE SNAKE SNAKE..." I'm screaming at my husband. He comes running, bare-handed. "NO. Go back and get the shovel!"

    I get banished to the truck and Man of the Hour bashes all heck out of the snake while the nasty thing is trying to strangle a chicken. Right there in front of us! No fear, just all business. "'scuse me... got chickens to kill."

    That sucker was four and a half feet long and had already strangled two chickens. Obviously had tried to eat them, but had no luck, so was just killin' chickens...

    Since then, we've deliberately run over two more chicken snakes in the road. Bought moth balls to repel them, and golf balls to distract them from the chickens... and to hopefully kill them! The only good snake is a DEAD snake.


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