Lissa is doing garden-y stuff in the front yard and walks around to the back yard to check her tomatoes. Her eye is caught by a long, black, thrashing, sinuous shape in the corner of the screened patio. She gasps.
“Mike! Need help please, there’s a snake in the patio!!”
Lissa has always liked snakes. They’re cool! And they eat pests. And they’re pretty. And when you pick them up, they contract and wrap around your arm (but never around your neck, kids!) and they’re just weird and they feel all smooth and cool and she wants a corn snake someday.
Mike . . . does not share this fascination. In fact, he’s rather un-fond of snakes. He has been known to growl, Indiana-Jones-style, “Why did it have to be SNAKES?”
HOW I IMAGINED THE SCENE WOULD PLAY OUT:
Lissa takes the brand-new garden rake and slowly approaches the snake from the right side. She gently nudges him with the rake. The snake, wanting only to escape and realizing that Lissa is much, MUCH bigger than he is, oozes to the left. She delicately chivvies him around the corner and to the door. He slithers quickly into the overgrowth behind the house as she watches with a peaceful smile on her face, content, and confident that he will keep her garden area rat-free.
HOW IT ACTUALLY WENT DOWN:
Well, the part about the garden rake was true. And I did indeed approach slowly and gently nudge him with the rake. Unfortunately, he did NOT turn tail and run. He just thrashed harder.
I gingerly poked him some more. He thrashed some more. And then he started shaking his tail at us.
MIKE: “Lissa, are you SURE it’s just a black rat snake? Why is he shaking his tail?”
LISSA: “Well, there aren’t any rattles on it, so it’s probably okay . . . ”
Then he started trying to crawl up the rake. I quickly scurried backward.
LISSA: “Um, Mike, you want to try?”
Brave man that he is, he stepped up. He didn’t have any more luck than I did with the rake — the snake continued to shake its tail and strike at nearby objects, NOT retreating at all — but he had more success with the big rubber pool hook. Repeatedly picking up the main body of the snake (it kept oozing away), he carried it out of the patio and set it down in the grass.
Phew! I followed them out, still looking forward to the peaceful and contented smile.
Only the bugger wouldn’t leave.
Instead, he stayed coiled up, hissing, and striking at anything nearby.
LISSA: “Mike . . . I think we might have to kill it.”
MIKE: “You want to kill it?”
LISSA: “I think so. If it’s not going to crawl away, and it’s going to stay here and be aggressive, I think I’d feel better with it dead. The neighbors have kids, y’know.”
So I held its neck in place with the pool hook and Mike got the shovel and chopped his head off.
I didn’t WANNA kill it! I wanted him to crawl away! I did!!!
Oh, well. I told our neighbors — who had warned me they’d seen a snake the day before — that we had killed it, and that I felt bad about it. He didn’t QUITE laugh at me as he nicely informed me that his sons are five and seven and he kills snakes on sight.
So far our Florida Death Toll consists of one spider (that apparently only eats six-legged creatures) and one snake that eats rodents. We’ll probably move on to killing butterflies and kicking puppies, next.
(a decapitated snake picture is beneath the fold)
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