One of the first tasks involved in renovating the old house was (is) reducing the knee-high vegetation that surrounds it — which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that the lot that the house sits on is bloody near three hundred feet deep. And me with an electric push lawn-mower.
There I am, poaching nicely in my own perspiration, when a neighbor lady wanders up and enquires if I am “scared of snakes”. Seems that she was fiddling with the garden hose; discovered Tommy No-Legs coiled up about four inches from her hand, and decided that this was an appropriate task for a handy redshirt.
I trundle over, peer sweatily into the coil of hose and spot what is obviously a fairly peevish young bullsnake.
Chuckling manfully, I reach down, avoid his first half-hearted swipe at my hand, pin his head to the grass with a handy twig, get a nice grip on the back of his neck and haul his scaly butt out of the hose pile.
I notice, as I hold him up for the admiring masses, two things. The first of which is that Neighbor Lady has disappeared. I mean, “Poof!” One moment she’s there, the next she’s gone, leaving only a faint odour of burning sneaker tread and a gently bouncing hoe to show that she was ever there.
The second thing I notice is that the bullsnake whom is currently wrapping himself around my good right arm has a rather nice, extremely loud, buzzing thingummy on his south end.
“Oh, bugger,” think I, as I gaze in some consternation at the eighteen-inch long prairie rattler who is apparently expounding at length with regard to my ancestry, sexual habits and intelligence.
It seems that my Venomous Reptile Recognition Skillset may have gotten a skoshie bit rusty over the last decade or so.
One semi-controlled yelp later, and Chris showed up at a dead run, took one look at the irritated reptile and sniffed, “Well, take it to the pasture and let it go.”
I was in the process of pointing out that I would be more than glad to let Jake go, that it wasn’t really a question of me letting him go, but rather convincing him to turn loose of me when the wee bastard gave a squirmy little twist and hung his left fang in my thumb.
I will admit to executing a fast-ball pitch that would have made Nolan Ryan all misty-eyed, but I emphatically deny that I “screeched like a Newhaven fishwife” while doing so.
Anyway, I don’t know how Chris would have noticed any screeching, considering that he had snatched up the discarded hoe and was vigorously — and somewhat emphatically — performing actions that might best be described as “Ginsu Viking” on the tumbling reptile whilst bellowing cusswords in about four languages at the top of his lungs.
As an aside, I’d like to give a hearty Paws Up to Hatch Corporation’s SGK100 model of kevlar lined search gloves. I’m pretty sure that the designer didn’t have “baby rattlesnake” in mind when he put those gloves together, but they kept me un-poisoned anyway.
I think I’ll keep a closer eye out around the old homestead this summer.