Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Is Crazy, Ridiculous, Horrible...

...and I don't like it ONE BIT.

After supper yesterday evening, Jeff and Kevin the Painter were going to shoot their new pistols--"to make sure they fired correctly"--and also because they just like shooting things, I suppose. :)

I had all the boys outside, and my mother was with us, too; but after giving Josiah and David instructions about covering their ears during the gunshots, I turned to go inside with Tobin, Shav, and Mother. And then--

I saw it.

A snake.

I shudder with horror as I write those words.

It was on our patio, still a little to the left of the door but heading that way.

I did the only thing I could do. I stopped, frozen to the spot, and called in the strange voice I only use when absolutely terrified, "Jeff!" And again--when he seemed to be so slow in responding--"JEFF!" Later he told me that he knew immediately that something was wrong but had no clue what it was; it could have been somebody breaking a leg or anything. He said it would be more helpful to holler, "SNAKE!" I'll try to remember that next time. ;)

Jeff and Kevin both came, and was I ever glad that they were there! The snake slithered into a flower bed and seemed to disappear under a crepe myrtle tree (bush?), but not before Kevin had shot it once, wounding it but not fatally. As I was scrambling to find tongs for Jeff who was calling for them so he could use them to extract the snake from the hole it was apparently going into, David was out in the yard by the swingset. He was running towards the front of the house when suddenly, piercingly, HE screamed. Sure enough, the snake was over there. (HOW did it get there? Sneaky little beast!) That was the worst moment: wondering how close the snake had come to David, wondering whether somehow David had been bitten, hearing the stark terror in his voice. I ran to him and picked him up, checking his legs for bite marks (and not seeing any--praise God!), cradling him against my shoulder and covering his ears as Jeff and Kevin shot the snake again (and again...and possibly again...although I couldn't say for sure how many bullets were sent in that snake's direction). And then Josiah brought the little hoe for Jeff who chopped its head off. We weren't taking any chances that the snake would survive the gunshots and have a miraculous recovery!

After it was soundly killed, we could release the breaths we had been holding during the whole ordeal; and then the conversation began:
Who saw it first?
Where did you see it?
Are you SURE it's the same one by the crepe myrtle bush, or could there possibly be another? How long is it? (about 3.5 feet...this picture was taken after Jeff had cut its head off...but even without the head, the snake is longer than the's the longest of the three we've killed on this property since we've moved back)
Are you SURE David didn't get bit?
Where was he running?
Where was the snake as David ran past?
What kind is it?
Is it poisonous? (I'm going to believe that it was a black snake, not any of the more dangerous varieties that could be present around here.)
Why, oh why, are we getting a snake every single year around here??? (2008's story is here...2009's is here.)

After the questions, came the "thank you, God's":
Thank You, God, that I didn't step on it.
Thank You, God, that David didn't step on it.
Thank You, God, that Tobin didn't see it first and, not knowing any better, get too close to it.
Thank You, God, that Jeff was home.
Thank You, God, that Kevin was here, too.
Thank You, God, that they both "happened" to have guns with them.
Thank You, God, that the snake didn't get away but reappeared so they could kill it.
Thank You, God, that yesterday when Mom was weeding that very flowerbed, she didn't see the snake--or worse, get bit by it.
Thank You, God, that on the nights I take food scraps out to the compost pile after dark, I've never had a run-in with the snake.

A little while later, our neighbor Douglas came over; and he reported that yesterday outside his shop (he has a welding and machine shop on the hill behind our house), there was a five-foot long black snake. Since his fear of snakes is probably only slightly less than mine, he was more than happy to let one of his customers do the honors of killing that one. His weapon of choice was a shovel.

The strange thing is that, for the past few weeks or maybe even months, I've had snakes on my mind and have been on the lookout for them, almost having a sense that at some point this summer, we would have an encounter with one. I reviewed mentally what I would do if I did see a snake and Jeff wasn't around, and I had almost convinced myself that it would be fine, I would be able to handle it, I could get a hoe, I could whack the snake, etc. But yesterday when I saw it, the FEAR that gripped me was beyond belief. Rational thought completely exited my head, and my response took on the spiritual overtones of "this thing is evil, and I am paralyzed standing here, unable to destroy it." Any bit of confidence that I had built up in my head was gone instantly, struck down by the fear. Oh, the fear!

The other strange thing is that yesterday morning, I went to a ladies' brunch at church; and the speaker, Sylvia, spoke on--you guessed it--fear. She was sharing some of the things she had been fearful of through the years; and as she said, "elevator, escalator, dogs, storms, etc." I was thinking, "I'm not afraid of those. But I AM afraid of snakes." And then, this happened last evening. Was God trying to prepare me for what was coming? If so, I'm afraid I failed the test.

Today, on this Father's Day, I am more convinced than ever that Jeff is my hero and my Father in heaven is always looking out for me!

But I have two final questions:
1. If just seeing a snake can give a person a heart attack, or at the very least, make her pass out, is it right to call a snake "harmless??"
2. I know that the brush and shrubs I've let grow up in the back flowerbeds are great habitat for snakes. As a result, I've decided that I'm going to pull out all the trees, bushes, flowers, and grass in the whole yard, and put down concrete instead. That's not too extreme of a response, is it?



Misty said...

Davene, you crack me up. I say that totally lovingly. A snake wouldn't scare me one bit (show me a cockroach though and my reaction would be quite similar to yours!) Glad you had macho, gun-wielding men to come to your rescue when the snake appeared!! Although I'm sure had they not been there your motherly instincts would have kicked in and you would have done just fine!

Emily Joy said...

You think YOU were the only one shuddering??? I was wide-eyed and open-mouthed while I was reading this!!! :) My biggest fear... housed at the Fisher's!!! So glad it's dead... So Davene... how about doing Shav's photoshoot at MY house, OK? :)

Patti said...

We have something living under the deck in our backyard. It is driving the dog to distraction, and I am very uneasy that it is a snake. My husband has been out there several times (with his gun, of course, because it makes them feel Manly to shoot Things That Might Endanger Their Family) to try to coax it out.

I will say that frequent visits to the reptile house at the zoo have somewhat helped with my snake fears. I'm with Misty on the cockroaches, though. They paralyze me, even though I know it is completely illogical. They are very, very big here in Houston.

Jolanthe said...

Rick killed a snake that was close to 5 feet long once coming out of our cellar at the Victorian. I was very happy about that.

Until the mice started showing up and eating all my food and my chocolate. At least the snake kept to himself and didn't eat my chocolate.

jeanette said...

oh my! I'm right with you-I'd be TERRIFIED of the snake...and even more so after hearing my son scream that he sees it too.

praising God that your hubby and friend were there to kill it for ya!

Mike and Katie said...

You remind me of my cousin. She had a run in with what they decided was a six-foot long black snake. She posted the pictures and video for her curious MN family members but quickly deleted them so she wouldn't accidently find them on her blog.

Sally said...

I'm so sorry you had such a terrible experience. I hope it was just a black snake. Probably you don't have any trouble with mice around there, do you? We have snakes around here and see them only occasionally (they are garter snakes) but we have not one single mouse. I'm happy we have the harmless snakes. I'm really sorry your having such a problem. My sister Gail actually had Luke import a big black snake to her place to get rid of some rodents. Maybe he should come get yours and take them to her too.

Charree said...

I can't stand/am afraid of snakes too. I am glad that all of you are safe.

Have a blessed day!

Polly said...

hee hee! Pouring concrete could help! You sound just like my best friend who HATES all snakes!! In the photo it sort of looks like a black snake although I think I could only see its belly. My husband encountered a copperhead running on a trail the other day and like some sort of hero he used a rock to smash it to bits. He'd never kill a non-poisonous snake but he was very concerned about a copperhead on a well-traveled trail.

On a related note, our neighbor saw a bear just up from our house this morning. 350 lb male! I guess this is the season!!!!

Davene said...

He killed a copperhead? With a rock? Yikes. That would require actually getting close to the wretched beast! He's a hero for sure. :)

When we see snakes around here, we don't take the time to analyze whether they're poisonous or not. That's partly because we just don't know enough about snakes--not that I'm getting geared up to learn more about them!

After this incident, one of Jeff's co-workers was giving him a hard time about killing the poor little snake, one of God's creatures, etc. When Jeff told me that, I assured him that when we saw that snake, there was going to be a fatality. Either the snake died, or his wife did. Take your pick. :)

A 350 lb. male bear? Yikes and yikes again! Only once has a bear been spotted on our land, and that was several years ago by our neighbor. I'm glad I didn't have to see it. But how did your neighbor know it was male and weighed 350 lbs? :)

Margie said...

I couldn't believe how big it was in the picture. YIKES - the girls laugh at my fears. Can't believe the snake house at the zoo has actually helped Patti. It's only exacerbated my own natural fright at the very sight of them.