I hate snakes. All snakes. I don’t care if they’re not poisonous. It’s a visceral reaction and there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. There are lots of snakes in the mountains of Northern Virginia and the property my husband inherited from his parents was no exception.
Not long after Dan and I married, his mom told me about the Rattlesnake she’d found in the kitchen curled around the burner of her indoor barbecue. (Talk about scaring the new bride.) Instead of perishing on the spot from heart-failure–a perfectly sensible reaction in my view–she claims she went and got a shovel, scooped up the snake, cut it’s head off and tossed it outside. I was impressed and completely freaked out all at the same time.
Some of that pioneering spirit diminished with her advancing years. Several decades later when she found a snake in the house, she called the police. According to the police officer who showed up–he’s the one who told me the story–he took one look inside and refused to cross the threshold. I guess the prospect of being crushed by ceiling-high piles of miscellaneous crap was more than he was willing to risk.
My husband doesn’t share my aversion to snakes. When he was a kid he actually went out of his way to find them. He and his brother would light firecrackers, toss them into the piles of rocks close to the barn and try to catch the snakes before they slithered away. I realize that the brains of adolescent males are not fully developed, but I’m not sure that’s a good enough excuse for this lack of judgement.
The dumb kid holding the Copperhead by the tail is my husband. What’s wrong with this picture? An adult took this photo, that’s what!
At the time of the great excavation, Mary’s barn was home to a six-foot Blacksnake, which is about as big as they ever get. It dined on rats and as rats are not desirable, having this non-poisonous snake in residence was a good thing, or so I was told. Even though Mr. Blacksnake provided this service, I had no desire to thank him in person. Neither did my sister-in-law, Lynda. Which presented us with a problem. We needed to go through the things in the barn and considering we had already found a couple of snake-skins in the house, we were already on edge about the local reptilian population.
I’m proud to say, we sucked it up and forged ahead. Our mode of protection was to wear jeans, boots and kick at the boxes and bags before we stuck our hands in them. After an hour or so of rummaging through the barn, we forgot all about Mr. Blacksnake and were completely caught up in our discoveries. Some of what we found was what you would expect; tools, riding lawnmower, sled, outdoor play equipment and furniture. But there was also the unexpected; boxes and boxes of fabric, a sewing machine, costume jewelry, bags of men and women’s clothing in various sizes and a five gallon drum filled with tiny, plastic green and yellow airplanes.
After an in-depth discussion and coming to the conclusion that there was no reason other than insanity for anyone to possess thousands of tiny airplanes, Lynda decided to check out the loft. We couldn’t find a ladder, so it took a little effort for her to get up there. She had to climb a pile of boxes, get on top of a refrigerator and climb up and over the railing that surrounded the loft. She hadn’t been up there very long before I heard a shriek and she was back on the ground floor, wide-eyed and looking a little pale. Wondering if she had suddenly developed superpowers, I was awestruck. She’d managed to get from the loft to the lower level–a good ten to twelve feet down– in the blink of an eye. When I asked her how she did it she said, “I have no idea.” Evidently, the sight of a very large, very unhappy snake, rat clutched in its mouth and coiled around the chandelier she’d pulled from a cardboard box was strong motivation to take flight without conscious thought. It’s likely we will both go to our graves never knowing how she managed to get down. Or what the tiny green and yellow planes were for.
Mr. Blacksnake had to shed his skin for a larger size. Those rats really pack on the pounds.
My comment in Hoarding #3 about Lysol generated some interest so I thought I’d do a little research and found the ad below. By the time I finished reading it my legs were tightly crossed.
If you’re warped enough to want to read more check out http://realchoice.blogspot.com/2006/03/lysol-douche-ads-these-are-for-real.html
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