Being a country reared fellow, there is one thing I have encountered — and if you grew up in the country you did, too — it is snakes, creepy crawly reptiles with no shoulders that hopefully get my immediate attention.
Over the course of my life, I have had up close and personal encounters with snakes that have slithered themselves into my memory vault.
One of the most memorable events took place when I was a kid down on the creek at the swimming hole. I was enjoying the cool clear waters of Molido creek with my brother, Tom and our cousins Doug and Sambo. Also along on the trip was my little puppy whose name escapes me; I’ll just refer to him as Fido.
While paddling along with Fido, I suddenly felt a sharp pain behind my knee. I thought at first that Tom, Doug or Sambo had sneaked up behind me and pinched me but glancing up, I saw all three on the opposite bank; it was obviously something else that had me by the leg. Reaching down, I pulled up a big black snake as long as the leg he was nibbling on. When my companions saw the snake, they were as concerned as me especially when they saw blood streaming down the back of my leg.
Doug, who apparently was bent on one day becoming a surgeon, reached for his rusty Barlow pocket knife and was preparing to slice into my leg to release the venom. Just before Doug began his procedure, we noticed that there were no fang marks at the site of the bite, just a row of teeth marks indicating I was attacked by a non-venomous water snake. Doug was the only one of us disappointed because he missed his chance to show his surgical skills.
On another occasion, I was hunting squirrels down on Clear Branch when I spotted a squirrel in a tree across the narrow stream. It was an easy hop across to put me on the same side of the water as the squirrel, so I made the leap to the other side. While halfway in my leap, I saw a flash of white at exactly the spot my momentum would have carried me to touch down. The white I saw was inside the mouth of a venomous cottonmouth. What I did next was to defy gravity; somehow, I was able to add to my leap another three feet while airborne and I landed safely on the other side of the snake. To this day, I still don’t know how I was able to do that.
Recently, I encountered another snake but this one presented no threat whatsoever to me. My wife and I were having lunch when I looked out on the driveway and saw a snake that was struggling with something it was trying to swallow. I grabbed a shovel, walked out the saw that the snake – I wasn’t sure of the species – was trying to swallow a toad.
I nudged the snake with the shovel, it released the toad which probably set some sort of record in leaving he scene; I never knew a docile toad could move that fast.
I nudged the snake again and it spread its neck like a cobra. Nudging it again, the snake immediately flipped over on its back making me believe it had expired. I knew what it was immediately since I have encountered spreading adders or hog nosed snakes before. It is a completely harmless variety so I walked away leaving it to flip back over and crawl away to safety. A snake and a toad have me to thank for saving both their lives.
If you are out and about this time of year, there is a good chance you’ll encounter a snake. In my case, I was bitten by a non-poisonous one, leaped past a bad one and had the opportunity of seeing nature do what it does to protect its own.