According to the report from a good friend, we now need to be very aware that rattlesnakes are slithering around or are coiled in hopes of being able to strike a victim. This friend asked if I had begun to watch for rattlers, and I reported that I never quit, even when snow is on the ground! Yes, I am one country person who is very afraid of rattlers.
Of course, the report brought up many memories of those years in the canyons and the many snakes we saw and killed. When the friend mentioned that she had killed the creature with a hoe, she really touched off the memory trail because that was the weapon of choice of most of the country women I knew. I have watched Grandmother and Mother grab a hoe and make mincemeat out of a snake in short order. Actually, I didn't usually have time to get that close to one of the "critters" and used my 22 rifle or a few good throwing rocks.
In our family, the law carved in stone was that we never saw a rattlesnake and left it alive. Well, I was a law-abiding citizen most of the time, but when total fright would take over, I just might decide to run instead. I learned early on to keep very quiet about those cross-canyon runs and didn't even feel very guilty for being a bit too cowardly.
Those canyons and pastures certainly contained their share of rattlers, and we lost more than a few pets and other animals we didn't get to in time. Fortunately, very few people were bitten because all of us were very alert then. During one summer, we killed almost a dozen in the yard, thus making me want to do more reading in the house than usual. We never went to the spring or worked in the yard without being aware of our surroundings. Our horses would also let us know if we approached a snake by shying or jumping out of the way. My arms became long for a reason — to grab the saddle horn when I was about to become airborne. Also, my horse wouldn't tell on me for loping on across the pasture without stopping to do some killing.
Now, when Prissy and I go for our country walks, I try to be reasonably alert for both of us because she is a town dog and might just become too curious were she to see a snake. If I can hear one before I see him, we will be headed to the car in one great rush. If I have to see him, I'll just try to remain calm enough to get Prissy to safety. I might have time to throw a few rocks if any are handy and would use a gun if it happened to be at hand, but most likely, I'll just have to disobey the family law one more time. At any rate, let's all be very careful as we wander around, even it we are walking here in town. Just remember the family warning each time I walked outside, "Watch out for snakes!"
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 461-1952.