With summer quickly approaching a close, the heat shows no sign of abating. And now, September is sure to be as hot as August. With the weather so warm, our reptile population has been out in force. Lizards and snakes have made themselves quite at home in our back-country.
They reminded me of this little adventure I had with the children a couple of years ago.
We Think We Heard a SNAKE!
While the children played outside, I enjoyed some quiet work while Wife was gone at a church engagement. I had the house all to myself, to blog and write without interruption. It was too good to last.
In little time, the five children at play came rushing into the front room like a herd of buffalo. In the lead rushed trusty #1 completely out of breath. The mob erupted into a torrent of explanations. After many minutes of incoherent noise, #1 finally shouted louder than the rest, “We heard a snake!”
“OK,” I said. “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 proceeded without any delusions. After all, there are beetles in the brush that make a sound similar to a rattlesnake. They only heard the rattle once. It stood to reason that nothing more dangerous than a red-ant hid beneath the tin. Therefore, I was quite confidant to walk out that Saturday morning in my 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 I got the children 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 lay 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 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 girls 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.