HPPR hosts & contributors
Prairie Ramblings Episode
Fri August 9, 2013
And the Oscar Goes to the Bull Snake
A few years ago, we replaced the windows in our house. I expected dust, noise, flies, and suffering through hundred degree plus July days, but I didn’t expect an Oscar quality actor to make an appearance. One thing about living in the country, something unexpected always happens. Because of our remodeling project, I faced one of my most dreaded fears—a snake in the kitchen.
Reading in the living room, surrounded by snoozing dogs, I was enjoying a quiet summer morning out of the heat. Suddenly, I heard an unexplained loud thump, and the dogs began a frenzied barking at the source of the odd sound.
I dragged the howling mob out of the house and returned to see what appeared to be a monster-sized coiled snake parked in the shadows of our kitchen. Due to poor lighting, I had to depend on sound and a silhouette to determine what kind of scaly creature faced me.
Wrapped in repeated circles and rattling like a baby on steroids, the beast hissed and thrust its head my direction, raising my blood pressure and heart rate to alarming levels. Unfortunately, the snake’s location was between the garage entry and the back door, which limited my choices about how to deal with this slithery surprise. While I didn’t know much except that my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, I did know I didn’t want that serpent traveling elsewhere to surprise me later.
All this time, I frantically dialed the resident game warden for professional assistance. Naturally, he was teaching a Hunter Safety class and had turned off his phone. Then I tried calling my daughter and her husband at Home Depot, but they didn’t answer either. At this point, I realized I had to address the issue right then or worry every time I opened a drawer or closet.
My first thought was a shotgun blast would do the job, but then I remembered that would ruin the floor we’d recently replaced. Destroying perfectly good linoleum would be expensive, so I had to consider other solutions. That brought to mind the hoe on the other side of the door just feet from that angry reptile. I’d have to take the long way out the front door to retrieve my chosen weapon, so how could I keep the snake in place?
I wanted that unwelcome guest in one spot, unable to crawl away, so I got close enough to tick Mr. Hiss Pot into a risen coil while I dashed to the bedroom for a pair of shoes. Once I had my shoes on the right feet—try to put your shoes on when you’re in panic mode, I feinted at the snake again, making it stand on its tail once more so I had time to rush out the front door to get the hoe.
While I grabbed the garden tool, my daughter called. Hearing my shrill voice and the words “snake in the kitchen” caused her to pass the phone to my farm-raised son-in-law who has dealt with more than his share of reptiles. He calmly told me to throw a blanket or a basket on it to confine it until I could decide what to do.
Once again, I tormented the snake into an upright mode so I could race to the bedroom to grab a laundry basket. With hamper and hoe in hand, I returned to the kitchen to face every woman’s mortal enemy since the time of Eve.
Still uncertain exactly what kind of invader I combated, I took precautions to avoid a bite. Thankfully, my aim with the basket was better than usual, and I covered the creature with the first toss. That provided a moment to catch my breath and prepare the coup d’grace for when it stuck its head out from under the container’s edge. I suspect the snake knew what was coming, and it was over before I could think about it. Lizzie Borden had nothing on me that morning.
After my heart slowed to a rhythm that allowed me to hear nothing but the refrigerator running, I could tell my reptilian intruder had taken his last breath. When I lifted the white plastic rectangle off the still writhing but nearly headless body, I realized I had witnessed one of nature’s greatest dramatic performances. That foolish bull snake should never have assumed the persona of a rattlesnake. I might’ve been willing to forgive its intrusion and lug it outside. As it ended up, that day was its greatest and final performance.