Most people have a problem with snakes. Not me. I think they’re cool. On a recent trip to Thailand, my travel companion and I got to handle a massive snake at the Red Cross venom harvesting facility in Bangkok. We realized there could be no better place in the world to be bitten by a poisonous snake, so we went for it with great enthusiasm.
My feelings about snakes are a bit different when the Red Cross Snake Crew is not controlling things, however.
Snake on a plane: bad.
That’s an easy one.
Snake on a farm: good.
That’s a little tougher to accept. Especially when this “good” snake is large and sinister looking, crossing the threshold of your house when your baby girl (well, OK…she’s about 20, but you get my meaning) nearly steps on it. Daddy-o walloped that one quicker than you can say “Jackie Robinson”. Killed it dead. I think John felt muy macho for having “saved” our screaming daughter. But it was a gopher snake. Our neighbors said, “Oh NO! You don’t wanna kill those!” Oh yes we did. Next time cooler heads may prevail. They really are good to have around the farm.
Snake on a boat: hysterical.
The ski boat was parked at the dock near a vacation home we used to rent for a week with another family. The other mom and I were having a cocktail in our lawn chairs while the kids splashed around on a raft and the guys fiddled with their fishing gear on the boat.
All of a sudden there were manly shouts – “WHOA! SNAKE!” – coming from the boat, and the guys all started to hop backwards onto the dock. They were laughing and flapping their arms, clearly energized by the discovery. We all closed in, thrilled and nervous at the same time.
Then I spotted it. “THERE IT IS!” Skinny and about two feet long, it was cozied up in the corner of the cockpit. The brave men tried to flip it onto the end of an oar. Their shock at accomplishing this caused them to drop the oar AND the snake and it slithered back into its corner.
The kids in the raft were laughing at the men dancing around the boat trying to catch the snake. They had a perfect perch to watch the action without being trapped aboard the Snake Boat.
We all sat back and watched the snake,. trying to decide what to do next. What kind of snake was it? Where did it come from? Do we kill it? No! Free it? How? Watching it made me shiver and laugh at the same time. This was stimulating stuff.
Then suddenly it miraculously climbed up the inside wall of the boat and onto the triangular cushion at the front. This was a huge development and everyone started shouting again. The kids in the raft couldn’t figure out what was happening….until the snake slipped himself onto the bow of the boat and spilled over into the water.
Now the raft exploded with activity. All three of those cheeky kids tried to stand up on that flimsy floor – now dancing and splashing, realizing there was danger in the water and the snake was rapidly swimming directly for the raft. Screams from the raft, howling laughter from the dock. You’ve never seen such bedlam. Powerful little snake, that was. And he disappeared. It took hours for us all to come down from this…
Snake at a beach house: terrifying.
One Memorial Day weekend my friend and I took our kids to her parents’ condo near a beach. When we entered the place after lunch, my prankster son said, “Whoa! There’s a SNAKE!”
We ignored him until he proclaimed, “Oh my GOD! It’s a REAL SNAKE!” which was such an odd thing to say, that we realized it must be true. We jumped up to join him in the front hall.
Sure enough, there was a tiny snake – about ten inches – that looked like a rattler to my expert eye. I mean, it wasn’t green and it wasn’t a cobra, and “rattler” was the only other snake I knew so it must be that.
After a sufficient amount of squealing, we found a broom handle and coaxed the snake out the front door. It wasn’t easy. The slippery thing seemed hell-bent on heading down the hallway to the bedrooms, but we would have no part of that. Out he went. Back to our board games.
A short time later I was headed to the bathroom, and about jumped out of my skin when I saw that damn snake back in the hallway. “THE SNAKE IS BACK!” I hollered to the clan in the living room.
They all scrambled over, “NO WAY!” We all assumed he’d found his way in through the screen door….or maybe there was a hole somewhere. We tried to direct the snake back toward the front door, but he wanted to go to the kids’ bedroom, so away he went. The thought of that snake slipping into a suitcase or sleeping bag about sent me through the ceiling. So jumping on the beds and grabbing all the stuff, we gingerly moved OUT of that room and decided to just seal it off and trap the little rascal in there. We were leaving that day anyway, so no need to bother with a snake hunt. We’d tell my friend’s parents about the snake, and they could arrange for a proper exterminator or snake handler or whatever….
When it came time to pack up and head home several hours later, I began the process of cleaning up and gathering belongings. I went to secure the large sliding glass door of the master bedroom where we’d been sleeping. I had a stick that was used as a brace in the track of the door, and I reached behind the curtain to put in place…..and the track came alive with snakes.
Yes, I said snakes. Plural. Four. All of them alarmed by my disturbance and scattering at my feet. I don’t remember leaping onto the bed and tearing down the hall, but I can assure you that no one thought I was faking my distress when I came wide-eyed and panting into the living room.
Nor did anyone want to check my story. We all grabbed everything we could see was ours and ran like wild to the car. No one regretted our early departure, and no one relaxed on the three-hour drive home, imagining a stowaway could be lurking in our midst…. By the way, Snake in a crowded minivan: very, very bad.
So snakes, as it turns out, are not only fascinating and useful….they are stimulating and entertaining, too. At a distance…or in the company of an experienced snake handler with the world headquarters for anti-venom 50 feet away. It’s a tenuous relationship, but one of (hopefully mutual) respect.
Snakes are good.