Today’s news includes the story of the poor Dallas area woman who upon seeing a snake in her yard decided to pour gasoline on it and set it on fire. Unfortunately, she didn’t think her plan through since the burning snake slithered into some brush which ended up burning her house down and setting a neighbor’s house ablaze as well.
Before we all scoff at this woman for coming up with this unfortunate idea in the first place, let’s remember that sometimes our own methods of solving difficult situations go awry.
Snakes present a particularly difficult problem in this regard.
Years ago, I walked out to my SUV and noticed a coral snake slithering down my driveway to greet me. I knew it was a coral snake because we’d seen one on a local hike and bike trail a few days earlier, and we recited the little rhyme for hikers to spot these deadly snakes “Red touching black is a friend of Jack. Red touching yellow can kill a fellow.”
Upon seeing my “visitor,” I did the only sensible thing a woman in my position might do. I screamed bloody murder and ran back into my house.
Our nanny was inside, and I told her the situation. It was important that I provide her with this information since judging from my screaming, she assumed I was being murdered and was preparing to dial 911.
With a small child at home and other children in the neighborhood, we felt it important to take immediate action. Calling any of a number of city and state wildlife organizations was ruled out. I’d been through that before when I called looking for someone to help me with a fox that wandered into my backyard. After calling about five different departments of various agencies, I finally got a very nice woman on the phone. She assured me that the fox was no problem.
“They’re very shy and docile,” she told me, “Unless they’re rabid, if you get anywhere near them, they’ll just run away.”
I told her that the fox was probably preparing to knock on the back door because he was now standing on my deck looking in the window.
“Just step out on the deck,” she told me, “The minute you walk out, he’ll just run away unless he’s rabid. I’ll stay on the phone. Tell me what happens.”
I did what she told me. I opened the door and stepped outside.
“So what happened?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I replied, “He’s just standing there staring at me.”
“I’ll send someone right over,” she responded, sounding more panicked than I felt.
Needless to say, before anyone could get there, Mr. Fox decided to head to the neighbors’ house.
Given that experience, I didn’t see that waiting for the crew from Animal Planet to show up would help me with the coral snake problem.
“Here’s what we can do,” our nanny suggested, “You get in the SUV and run over him.”
That sounded like a pretty good plan to me. I couldn’t dream of the downside except for the unfortunate sight of a dead coral snake in the driveway.
I did exactly what she told me to do. I ran out to the vehicle and jumped in. Turning on the engine, I could still see the snake slowly making its way down the driveway. I put the SUV in gear and gunned the engine directly into the path of the snake.
What happened next, I’ll never forget.
The snake flew up in the air in front of my windshield.
Then he was gone. I pulled back but couldn’t see him. Our nanny was watching from the garage. I cracked my window and hollered out to her.
“Do you see it?” I asked her.
She didn’t see it anywhere. Neither did I. Clearly, the coral snake had the upper hand. Not knowing where the snake went, I was afraid to even get out of the vehicle. I could just imagine the snake, hiding under my door, ready to slither up and “greet” me.
I finally gathered the courage to escape the SUV. We never saw the snake again which was its final revenge. Not knowing where it went meant we always feared we’d see it or its family and friends any time we ventured outside.
My other memorable snake experience happened on a winding road in Kentucky. I was riding in a truck with my cousin’s wife and my mother. We were all just chatting when my cousin’s wife stopped the truck, reached into the glove box, pulled out a pistol, and walked behind the truck. My mother and I heard a shot ricochet off the pavement and my cousin’s wife returned to the truck and put her weapon away.
“There was rattlesnake in the road,” she calmly informed us.
I hope that all of this serves as a reminder that we never know what little calamity might face us (particularly where snakes are concerned). Following the Boy Scout adage to “always be prepared” is true. “Winging it” is never a good idea.