While the children were playing outside, I enjoyed some quiet work while Wife left for a church engagement. I had the house to myself to blog and write without interruption; it was too good to last.
In little time all five children at play came rushing into the front room like a herd of buffalo. In the lead was trusty #1 completely out of breath. The mob erupted into a torrent of explanations. After many minutes of incoherent noise, #1 was able to shout louder than the rest, “We heard a snake!”
“OK,” said I.“Show me where.”
They led the way with #1 at the lead. “It’s over here, under the tin,” she shouted over her shoulder.
I was under no delusion; there are beetles in the brush that make a sound similar to a rattlesnake. They heard the rattle only once, therefore I was quite confidant to walk out in my Saturday morning slippers. Soon I stood before the old metal shed that had been burned down into a heap many years ago. The children pointed to the scrap tin and verified that they heard the rattle from underneath.
“OK guys,” I said, “calm down. It was probably just a bug.” I then proceeded to prove my point by boldly marching into the rusted metal. “Looks like the snake left.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “Nothing here.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “I think we’re good.” Stomp, stomp, stomp; rattle, rattle, rattle.
All eyes turn with one mind to the spot where the sound came from. Under a sheet of tin directly in front of me the muffled sound of a rattlesnake’s rattle sounded clear; and there I was, standing almost on top of it armed only with my slippers.
“OK everyone, back to the house.” A quick retreat ensued in which #5 was nearly left to fend for himself. Lucky for him I was taking the rear and simply scooped him up under one arm with him screaming, “NOOOOOO!” the whole way.
Once the children were out of potential harm, I pulled on my boots and armed myself with a shovel, the rattlesnake’s nemesis. I went back to the old shed with all the confidence of Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. And like the famous gun fight, the villains were dead and I stood triumphant. Returning with a headless snake, I decided it was time for the children’s science lesson.
Practical science I call it. I skinned and gutted the still slithering reptile while twelve little eyes looked on with intense interest. We examined the skin, and I explained how I was going to preserve it. We examined the rattles, and the top three argued over who would get them. We examined the intestines, and saw that the rattler’s last meal was a kangaroo rat. Then to top off the children’s experience, I fried up the rattlesnake and we ate it for lunch.
I do believe that I make a very good teacher.