Sunday, June 24, 2001

My hero, the snake killer

Contribiting Writer

He has been my hero on more than one occasion but never more so than on Wednesday, June 13.

A week or so before that date, as I had climbed on the four-wheeler to go to the mailbox, the snake made itself known, all five-plus feet of him had shot from under the four-wheeler to hide under the bucket on the front of Daniel's tractor.

Though not really terrified, I did of course want the snake gone, preferably killed. My husband and son convinced me, however, that he was harmless. A white oak runner, they said. Lives around barns and under porches and house and eats rats. A natural part of the greater ecological picture.

Yeah ... "Well we don't have rats to my knowledge and if we do there's always DeCon. That snake is after my birds and he has to go."

Reluctantly, Daniel draped the writhing creature over a rake, walked out to the edge of the woods and tossed him in amongst the trees and underbrush.

The following Monday evening, Daniel, Dylan, Elise and I were having an enjoyable dinner on the back porch. A relaxed, special time with our grandchildren until the snake appeared. Just slithered around the corner of the bricks and dropped himself into their toy box. Daniel's eyes got wide. Even he could not believe it.

Me? I am controlling myself only for the sake of the children. But it's hard.

Every ounce of me wants to scream. Voices ring in the recesses of my mind attempting to convince me that snakes are more afraid of me than I am of them, that they will run from me, that they will not approach me ... All liars. I knew better all along.

One look and Daniel knew better than to try to convince me that a harmless, environmentally friendly serpent was now draped in and amongst the kid's toys. It had to die. All six or so feet of him!

The following Saturday we are at Home Depot and Daniel sends to me to fetch some spray to kill bees and wasps. Seems he does not consider them environmentally friendly. So while I'm scouting the shelves I discover "Snake Away" which should be sprinkled all around any area you do not want to share with snakes. There was a warning, however. Do not use it if you think the snakes might already be in the area you want to protect because then they will not leave.

Hysteria begins to build.

Two days later I finally erupted when, while sitting at my desk, pecking away at the computer, I look up to another huge "harmless" white oak runner perched in my window, thankfully, on the outside. Just weaving his evil little head up and down and back and forth as if to try to get a make on me as I sit only inches from where he sits.

I lost it.

Through tears of fury I went outside, in the rain, climbed on my four-wheeler, drove it up under the window, stood on top of it, and with the hoe, walloped the slithering mass of whatever he was made of. Trouble is, if you have ever attempted to kill a snake you already know you can chop away and they keep going.

I only got in one wallop about a foot from the tip of his tail. Didn't faze him. He slithered down and up under my back porch. I jumped down in pursuit, just in time to see him crawl up, over and through an opening under the back porch that leads into the crawl space under the house. I cried. A lot.

Daniel arrived home from work around 4 p.m. fully aware of what he had to do. A good 30-40 minutes he spent under the house, crawling all around with a flashlight and hammer. When he came out his words were, "I don't know if it's going to make you feel better or worse, but that snake is not under there."

Wrong. I had stood guard. The birds and squirrels had come back out to play in the yard when that snake had disappeared. They and I knew that slithering mass of misery was still crouching under there somewhere.

As luck would have it, while on his failed mission, Daniel had spotted a loose something or other under the house that needed attention. He retrieved whatever he needed for the repair from his workshop and back into the darkness he crawled, still with flashlight and hammer in hand. This time he came out with a chopped up snake in tow. It had been coiled up under the hot water heater.

My hero once more. The birds and I rejoiced.

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