Throughout most of the summer, Aggie and I have avoided wandering around in pastures because one of us has heard too many stories about the plethora of rattlesnakes throughout the county. Despite taking all sorts of precautions, I found a snake slithering across our own kitchen floor and am now ready to move to the pastures.
Although it wasn’t a rattler, it caused just as much panic as if it had been because any kind of snake is more than enough to send me into the air for an indefinite stay. At least I learned that I can still go into action when the need arises and was able to capture and dispatch him in less time than it usually takes me to move from chair to chair.
Now I’m still working on regaining nerve to move from place to place without looking carefully before placing each foot and tend to leap into the air if I see a small ant crossing my path.
Most of us who are of the land become more than a little edgy when we hear a lizard rustling through the leaves because we learned to be alert from the time we could walk. We never went outside without someone telling us to watch for snakes, and we have remained all eyes since that time because that early training is everlasting. Those canyons of home contained plenty of rattlesnakes as well as other varieties and kept me hopping during most of my early years of existence.
I learned to avoid mentioning the sighting of a rattler unless I could show that I had collected his rattles because we were never supposed to let one escape as the next person or animal might be bitten. When we found them in the yard, we would usually attack with a hoe, and when we found them elsewhere, we would attack with rocks.
I remember one summer during which we found more than our share in the yard because a large den was near the house. We had to be particularly wary because the little ones couldn’t rattle but could certainly bite. I made double trips to carry water because I wouldn’t leave the house without a hoe and could only carry one bucket at a time. I found more chores to do inside than usual because I didn’t have time to be scared silly every time I went outside.
We tried to get all the chores done before dark if at all possible but would sometimes have to do the milking late if we had gone to town. Fortunately, we had a fairly good lantern, and I grew very attached to it when I’d have to walk to the cow lot. At least I was with Dad when I thought I heard grain glowing out of the feed sack and looked more closely to see a large rattler on the move. I just held the lantern while he took care of the situation and stayed very close to him until we returned to the house.
In those days, I could often yell for help when panic took over, but I now have to endure the panic while taking necessary action and can then have a real breakdown after the fact. I have no idea what kind of snake that little 16-inch dude was in the kitchen, but I know he wasn’t a rattler, a bull snake, or a garter snake.
Actually, I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to identify him because I was much too busy getting rid of him. I think I found the hole through which he entered the house, and nothing else will be able to use that entrance again. In a few months, I’ll regain some semblance of calm, but until then I’ll continue looking and leaping every time I see or hear anything anywhere in the house.