Since it’s summer, I decided to come up with some good old snake stories.
I don’t like those slimy reptiles. Truth is, I detest them. If we see them on a bicycle trail, you can hear me screaming a half mile away.
Growing up on our farm I used to see water snakes near the bridge on my way to the mailbox. I learned to pedal my bike with great gusto to avoid them. On occasion, my parents would ask me to deliver milk to an older couple in Loysburg. One evening, Rose and Jake entertained by telling me snake stories. Consequently, I had also been asked to pick up a spring for the screen door. Driving home, I looked over, and saw the black spring and for an instant thought it was a snake. I had to stop the car to reassure myself it was okay.
Perhaps that is why snake stories seem to keep happening to me. Many years ago, I had gone out for a walk on a rainy spring evening. My husband was off to one of his singing gigs. As I walked around the house, I noticed what I thought was piece of black hose lying in the yard.
My always fastidious husband rarely lets anything out of place, so I was puzzled. In my quest to know more, I kicked the black thing and it rose up like a ballerina dancer on its tail. Realizing I had just disturbed a black snake, I took off around the house and in the front door. It took me an hour to stop shaking. By that time, the snake was half way to Cumberland.
On another occasion, I was doing an interview at a greenhouse and a mother and daughter were telling me about snakes in their house. They took it all with a very casual attitude as they explained they had never been able to get rid of those darned critters. Sometimes, the girl said, they hung on the rafters in the basement and swung against the basement door. When they invited me in for tea, I politely declined.
I’ve heard that snakes do not like cats. That explains my enjoyment of these soft, purry pets. One morning, a big black snake crawled into the sun on the hillside near our house. Our Tom cat, Francis, found it resting peacefully and immediately pounced on this strange-looking creature. For the next hour, he pulled its tail, then ran around to watch it hiss. He apparently found it amusing. The snake, on the other hand, crawled away and never returned.
While snakes thankfully avoid our house, they do visit our neighbors. An elderly widow in her 80s, called my husband to tell him there was a rattlesnake on her back porch and she was afraid to shoot it because her hand was no longer steady. Knowing that rattlesnakes are protected, my husband picked up his shotgun and walked to the lady’s home. Once there, he told the snake that he was about to shoot and if it was in the way, that was too bad.
But the most absolutely funny snake story I have ever heard came from a friend. This delightful couple had recently got a kitten from the Humane Society and was teaching it the wheres and whys of their lovely home located in a wooded area. They let the door open so the kitten could learn how to go in and out of the house at will.
As the lady of the house was weeding some flowers, she noticed a black tail disappear through the door and assumed it was the kitten. Looking down, she saw the kitten was standing in front of her. Then, what was that black tail?
Oh no, she screamed to her husband, a snake had just gone into the house. The husband’s opinion of snakes runs parallel to mine. Realizing they had to find it, it he grabbed a pair of meat tongs and he and the wife began looking.
Wife saw it disappear into the front closet where their coats were stored. Husband caught a glimpse as it climbed the closet wall then, again, it vanished.
They knew, much to their dismay, the snake had crawled inside one of their 15 to 20 coats. On that cold spring evening, they one by one, took coats off hangers, shook them, and threw them out the front door.
This scenario continued coat after coat until reaching the last one, a leather coat, in size large. As they picked it from the hanger, they realized it was heavier than it should be. The slithery reptile was stretched from one sleeve to the other, obviously comfortable.
The Mrs. held the coat by the hanger while the Mr. used the tongs to grab it and pitch as far as he could out the front door over the pile of coats. Unfortunately, it hit a tree and was knocked unconscious. At this point, the wife actually felt sorry for the poor creature thinking that it had “shaken baby syndrome”. Within an hour it came around and crawled off down the hill. What a story it had to tell in the pit that night.
We do live in Pennsylvania and snakes are native to our countryside but I would much prefer that we meet only on very rare occasions.
Photo by Fotolia/claudeheon