Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Close Encounters of the Serpent Kind

I was on a mission this past week. I was going to finish my revisions if it killed me. And it was—killing me, that is. So, I decided a change of scenery was in order. I dragged out the old lounge chair and hefted across the lawn to a shady spot under a huge pine tree overlooking the water. After carefully spreading a towel over the dingy fabric of the chair, I settled in for some writing.

The day was hot, but the breeze was delightful, and the joy of being out of doors instead of cooped up in my office while I wrote was intoxicating. I was deep into a rather inspired passage of revisions when I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye.

I turned my head and there, not three feet from me, was a long, slender, shiny black snake. We both froze. I must have been sitting very still, with only my fingers tapping on the whisper-quiet keys of my laptop, because it was clear I had startled the thing when I looked toward him.

For a long moment, we engaged in a sort of silent standoff, both waiting to see what the other would do. I should probably mention here that, though I’m not really afraid of snakes, I do have a healthy respect for them. He was about four feet long, with a slender head and round pupils, so I felt fairly confident he was just a common black rat snake.

I smiled—he was just a harmless little bugger. It was funny, really, the way both of us were sitting there like idiots. Neither one of us was going to hurt the other, for heaven’s sake. Hoping to get him on his snakey way again, I said, “I see you.”

BIG mistake.

Having apparently scared the bejesus out of him, he whipped around with lightning speed, facing me fully and suddenly vibrating his tail with rattlesnake-like effectiveness. Adrenaline bolted through my system, stopping my heart before sending it into overdrive, pounding so hard it nearly jumped from my chest.

FLEE, my body screamed, not even letting my mind catch up. Tossing my computer and lap desk to the ground, I scrambled backwards, flailing my arms and legs in my desperate bid to break free from the awkwardly low lawn chair that seemed to be actively trying to thwart my escape.

At last gaining a foothold, I bolted up, throwing myself off balance and stumbling backwards. At this point I must have looked like the giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea to the snake—arms wind-milling and legs tangled in the blasted chair, all the while making guttural noises of distress since a scream seemed to be above my powers of speech at this point.

Almost at the same moment, we both made a break for freedom. Snakey rocketed for the woods, hightailing it faster than frightened rabbit. Heedless of my bare feet, I did one of those cartoon escapes, running in place for a second before finally gaining traction and zooming away, leaving my shadow behind to catch up later.

Once inside, I thundered up the stairs and straight to my iPad (you know—because I had ditched my computer outside like a bad habit?).With my heart still pounding in my ears, I pulled up the internet.

You gotta love Google. I typed in “Black snake shaking—” and it auto-filled in “its tail” for me. I felt a little better—at least I wasn’t the only idiot doing this search. So, come to find out, it was indeed the common rat snake—not some insidious black rattler invading the southeast as I had irrationally feared. Apparently, it has the ability to mock a rattlesnake, shaking its tail with that blood-chilling rattle, instantly instilling fear in its hapless victims.

The little bastard.

After pulling myself together, I went back outside to retrieve my computer and shoes. He was still there, sunning near the edge of the woods. I ain’t gonna lie, dear Cake Readers. I threw a pine cone at him. And ran like a little girl when he jumped.

So tell me, what would YOU have done if you had had a close encounter of the snake kind?

And today’s recipe?

Fried Snake, Courtesy of the USGS

Are you listening Mr. Snakey?


  1. Yelled for my Dad.

    Oh wait, that's what I did when I saw a foot long green snake as a little girl.

    Okay, yelled for my husband or if he isn't there gone for a shovel and bashed the head in. No snakes allowed in my yard.

    I have kids to protect. And they think anything scaly is cute and should be played with. So glad zoos have glass around their critters.

  2. OH MY! I am deathly afraid of snakes. I have left my own flesh and blood to fend for themselves in the face of a snake. On Friday, I was in the bathroom cleaning and I heard my dad shuffling around some books stacked in the adjacent craft room. I peeked around to see what he was looking for. He was looking at the encyclopedias. Forget Google, he was going old school. I had a really BAD feeling. I guess an intuition of sorts. He looked up and said, "Do you just have the Yearbooks or actual encyclo... oh never mind. There it is." "There it is what?" I said. "There's a snake in the basement and I want to see what kind it is before I mess with it." My skin turned to goosebumps (as it is while recalling this story) and I shrieked. He had it contained in clear plastic food container. I on the other hand quickly powered up my computer while he was still searching away in the 'S' book. We came to the conclusion that it was in fact a baby rat snake. My dad kept the collected reptile in the container and walked it far away from the house and let it go. Not what I would have done, but hey, it must have been his lucky day. For the next few days, I armed myself with the kitchen broom as I ventured to the basement to do laundry.

  3. LOL, Beth - I don't know if I would have had the powers of speech to yell for anyone even if I wasn't by myself!! As for the snakes in my backyard, I live near the woods and on the water, so it's kind of a lost cause ;)
    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. LOL! Omgosh Erin that is about the funniest story I've heard in a long time. Too cute! But I was scared right along with you. I am deathly afraid of snakes and I fear I would probably have looked even ridiculous than you if that had happened to me. Oh, I needed a laugh and that was great!

  5. EEK!!! Rhonda - a snake in the yard and a snake in the HOUSE are too very different things! I might have had to move if I were you ... ;)

  6. :) Suzie, I'm glad I could make you laugh! Yes, afterwards I could see the humor. During? Not so much, lol.

  7. Okay, first of all, I almost fell out of the bed laughing at the picture of you tangled up in the chair. You have a gift with story-telling, my dear.

    Second of all, this would never happen to me. I make it a habit to avoid places where snakes might even be a slight possibility (except the zoo, of course, but I'm fine if they're in cages.) I live in the city and I try to never leave it.

    BUT, if for some reason I did find myself face to face with a snake, I would have one goal in mind: KILL IT!

  8. LOL - Jerrica, you say that, but I guarantee you your flight instincts will be in full effect!! I will admit, I did consider pulling the pellet gun out, but I thought better of it. I'll just be sure to keep the pooches by my side from now on!

    And thanks for the story-telling compliment - you're a doll :)

  9. WOW- Is it weird to say that I'm glad that I'm not the only one who had a weird encounter with a black rat snake lately? Just a few weeks ago I was passing my neighbor's house and saw in the driveway what I thought was a black garden hose all coiled up. To my horror it started to move, when I disturbed it's sunbathing and it stretched out to a full length of six feet!!!! I didn't even scream, my jaw just sort of dropped and I just pointed at it to my mom who missed seeing it because she was too busy trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me lol.

    I have not ever been a person who fears snakes...but after seeing that thing I sort of wigged out a bit. I went on my phone and immediately googled Oklahoma snakes because I wanted to make sure it wasn't a cotton mouth or something really poisonous before I went traipsing happily and ignorantly in my yard. Anyway, that's my snake story.

  10. What would I have done? Well, at the first sight of him I'd have jumped and run because snakes and I? We don't mesh. Not in my imagination nor real life. My laptop and everything around me would have been left to their own devices and I'd have been running back home, squealing like a little girl. You're far braver than I. :)

  11. You made my day! I'm so glad you shared... i'm a firm believer that if something like that happens, it's a shame for others not to see (or hear about) it. I've come across a snake once in high school. The nasty thing was blocking the path to my friend's back door so I did a u-turn and went to the front door. Fortunately I didn't experience anything like you did. I'd probably have done the same exact thing but left my stuff out there until Patrick got home. I'm a sissy, though!

  12. Worse snake encounter ever. Well, near encounter. I went backpacking with a friend in the Buffalo National Forest a few days after graduating from grad school. After lugging a huge backpack all day, I was sweaty, tired and starving. My friend built a fire and I went for a swim in the river. After climbing up the trail to our campsite, I looked over the cliff's edge and down on the area where I had been swimming. There were probably close to fifty water snakes. I'm not exaggerating. I was later told it was mating season for water snakes. It still gives me the creeps! But the absolute worst part of the trip was my friend forgot to pack the hamburger patties, so all we had to eat was granola. We should have roasted a snake.

  13. Remind me to tell you about the three days I spent in the hospital after being bitten by a copperhead at the lake...

    Threw a pinecone, huh? Love it :)

  14. OMG. That was soo funny. I'm still wiping away tears as I type. I would have run away screaming, too!

    Alas, I have no snake stories. But the hubby does. He worked as a surveyor when he was younger. Never left for work without a big ole knife of some kind. Indiana Jones style I think. ;)

  15. Lauren - we are sisters in snake encounters this month! Honestly, where would we be without Google to sooth our black-rattler fears? ;)

    LOL, Aimee - my laptop was on its own, too :) I thought nothing short of a tornado could make me drop my computer and run. Clearly, I was wrong ;)

  16. Jennifer, it makes it better that the story can make you laugh. Honestly, I was NOT laughing at the time, but each time I re-enact it, it gets funnier and funnier to me :)

    Samantha . . . what? What? WHAT? W H A T ??? That is the worst thing I ever heard!! {shivering} now I've got the heebie jeebies!!

  17. Holy crap, Heather. That is not fun, not fun at all. Yeah, we have copperheads around here too. I worry about the pups when it comes to those bad boys. I've seen at least three copperheads since I moved here - luckily, they were either dead or soon-to-be dead at the time!

    And yes - a pine cone ;)

  18. So glad I could make you laugh today, Marquita :) I will happily leave the snake encounters to Kirk from now on if I could! I may take to carrying an Indiana Jones style knife, too!

  19. Erg, glad it was you and not me! I HATE SNAKES!

  20. I loved the cartoon escape image. LOL!!

    I don't like snakes either but I wouldn't have called for the hubby as some suggested. My hubby is more afraid of critters than I am. (Sadly, I do most of the rescues from bugs or rodents or whatever in our house. Sometimes I even rescue him. Silly city boy.)

    That recipe is interesting. I wonder if it'd taste good with chicken. I've heard snake tastes like chicken (as does every other mystery meat).

  21. LOL, Ramona - I kept picturing what my friend Becky would have done in that situation. Then I realized: nothing. She would have been dead of a heart attack!
    :) Thanks for stopping by to say hello!

  22. Oh, Marnee - your poor hubby :) At least he's not alone. My friend from work said her 50yr old hubby called his FATHER when he found a snake on the front porch. He wouldn't open the door until 72 year old pops came to get the snake!

    And I can honestly say I doubt I'll ever know what snake tastes like, lol!

  23. Man that's funny. Your nephew will be excited to hear about this, he's quite the snake lover. Maybe Mr. Snakey will make a reappearance (from a safe distance) when we visit!

  24. I would've done the same thing! I was laughing out loud imagining the octopus scenario.

  25. Unfortunately Andy, another encounter is not altogether infeasable;)
    The good news is that it will most likely be from a safe distance. Once ever five years is frequent enough for that kind of up close and personal interaction!

  26. Honestly, BookGeek, it's therapeutic for me to know that my over-the-top reaction would have been shared by others :). So glad I could make you laugh!

  27. "I see you." Bwahahahah!!! What a thing to say to a snake! Truly a hilarious story...I was right there with you the whole time! I have screamed and ran from many things I THOUGHT were snakes, only to discover they were just some fallen branches, or, on more than one occasion -- shadows:) I might make like a 'possum if I saw one up close and personal like you!

  28. Trust me, Kara - I will *never* say that to a snake again! And I have to admit, I have been seeing snakes in every stick and shadow these days, too ;)