Sunday, April 10, 2011

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks


This time last year we'd been in Texas a week. A year ago we didn't know spring comes hard and fast here; the ditches go from dreary brown to hints of green quicker than you can shake a stick at. Before you know it you're stuck behind a piece of equipment moving 20 mph below the speed limit because mowing season has arrived. Hummingbirds were checking our feeders a week ago, surprised me! I didn't remember them coming back so early. Early spring also means the arrival of bugs - bugs zapping the front of the car as you fly along the highway, leaving a coating of yellow muck on the front fender. Bugs that remind you of Pharoah and Moses.

After the bugs come, the frogs arrive (more Pharoahishness). And after the frogs come, the snakes.

This time last year I walked onto the carport, to see a four foot snake of some kind, wound around the electrical box my husband had just been working on. Speechless, then a sqwawking sound, then little screams coming from my mouth. "Snake, snake, snake!" I did NOT kill that one, but did a pretty good job of pointing where it was slithering away to.

A month or so later we found three more, in the part of the yard we'd lovingly knick-named 'The snake pit". One we didn't know what it was, the other two were baby water moccasins. Or cottonmouths as they call them here. I actually whacked the daylights out of one of them with the shovel, watching it fly around the yard in little bitty pieces. It made me feel a bit like Helen Reddy, singing 'I am woman, hear me roar" as I swung the shovel above my head. But it left me a bit giddy and light-headed over the whole ordeal.

So yesterday, standing outside in the yard barefoot (a big no-no in rural Texas), looking over the side yard toward the woodpile, I spotted a good sized snake curled up on top of the logs. Did I take the time to check the shape of its head? No. Did I definitely recognize what it was? No. But I did, very calmly, tell my husband that there happened to be a snake that looked a lot like either a cottonmouth or copperhead, slithering away, and then I went and got the hoe. Came back, disappointed to see we'd missed it. No snake whacking today.

Never screamed a single second. But I will start wearing shoes in the yard again. Otherwise I might be chopping off a toe or two, when the crazy woman inside me starts swinging that hoe again. I do believe I can do this living out in the country thing, this girl who used to lose it over a loose moth in the car. As Gomer Pyle would say, "Well, serprise, serprise!

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