You may wonder why the title of this post says “Pesky Serpents” and there is a picture of a cute baby bunny. This is because this blog does not support pictures of snakes.
Last week, The Hunter asked when I was going to write about snakes. I have no idea why he asked me that. It’s not even a normal question. He should be well aware by this time that snakes are not an acceptable topic of conversation around here.
“I’ve already mentioned snakes once, a couple of months ago, and that’s all the press I’m giving them,” I replied.
I may have still been saying “…them,” when he pushed me to one side. We were walking back to the house from the edge of the woods, where we had been inspecting the progress of the recently seeded grass. I looked down and there was this large (I say Gi-normous, The Hunter says two feet; I compromise on large, The Hunter says I exaggerate) snake.
In continuing this frightful tale, The Hunter and I remain divided on the description: I say it was leaping through the grass and curving all about the place. The Hunter says it was merely attempting to move along on the top of the grass and there was no leaping involved. Believe me, it wasn’t merely “moving along”; there was a lot of up and down-ing going on as well. It was not what I like to see near the patio.
He asked: “Well, why did you look? You know perfectly well if I shove you out of the way, there is a car coming, someone has a gun or there is a snake.”
In reply, I gave him a look and went into the house. The Hunter went into the garage to get something to dispatch the reptile. And for the rest of the day he shook his head and muttered, “I never see snakes, except when I’m with you. I’ve never in my whole life seen one in the open grass like that….”
Apparently neither had Timothy Merrick. There is a very early American folk ballad – some say it is the first American folk ballad – about Timothy and the rattlesnake that bit him. He died. It happened not five miles from where I am typing.
I do not co-exist with snakes. Not in the cellar, not in the yard, not in the garden. I loathe them with a visceral passion. I don’t care how wonderful they are at keeping down mice and bugs and whatever else they keep down (apparently in the case of Timothy, young men.) I don’t loathe any of those things. I can tolerate them. But not snakes.
I have long maintained, no doubt blasphemously, that if it had been Elizabeth, not Eve, in the garden, we would be there yet. There would have been none of that sad business with the apple. Before the first words of the fateful challenge were out of the serpent’s mouth, I’d have been over the hedge and out of sight.
A day latter, as I am standing at the sink, I can’t remember doing what – no doubt something housewifely – I see The Hunter pause at the edge of the woods and stare at something. Then I see him very softly back up and head to the garage and return with the lawn edger.
He came in a short time later and announced he had dispatched another one. Then he spent the rest of the day muttering softly that a snake two days in a row was unheard of – even with all the time he has spent in the woods.
Now it is five days later. The Hunter went to check on his tomatoes and I followed him out of the house. I turned the corner by the garage and there is another serpent. This time The Hunter says: “Wow. That’s a big one.”
Why does he think it is necessary to say things like that? But you have it from his own personal lips. This one was HUGE. I go inside and he goes for the edger. When he re-appears, I ask him what he has done with it. He says he buried it right there. My eyes pop out.
I don’t know what you call it when you simultaneously sigh, gasp and shriek at the same time, but that’s the pitch you want to hear for the next words.
“I’ve still got to weed that garden! I don’t want to find dead, rotting snakes in it. Or worse yet, stumble on a wake with all its friends mourning” (end with an upward tone verging on a shriek.)
He says he will weed that section from now on. I tell him he is correct.
I am getting quite jumpy these days. Still, I can’t help myself and later on I start pulling weeds in another section of the garden – one that is fairly open and which I’ve surveyed very carefully before stepping so much as a toe in it. I hear behind me: “What are you doing? Trying to find a snake?”
Perhaps we can move to Ireland.