Friday, July 10, 2009

Snake Eyes And The Rest Of The Story

The other morning my wife hollered as only a wife can when urgently demanding her husband’s attention, “There’s a snake on our front porch!” I gathered in this news alert with a measure of relaxed panic.

My first thought was, “I never met a snake I liked.” Moving right along found me rushing toward the front porch to verify the urgent news alert and also to identify, if possible, the make and model of our sociable slithering reptile.

It turned out to be a little garter snake about 2 feet in length. Note that I refer to “it” because there was no clue as to its gender. This was due in part to my vast void of snake awareness, Beautiful brown and yellow stripes ran down its body from head to toe…make that from nose tip to tail tip. There was a little lump in its belly. This told me that most probably a small frog had served the snake breakfast that morning. Those little frogs really put themselves into it when they serve meals to snakes. In fact, that’s why the snake was on our porch. Lots of frogs hang out in that area although their number may be diminishing.

Having assured myself that our skinny visitor was non-poisonous, I stepped out onto the porch. The little “it” was very frightened by my presence. It tried to climb the brick wall of our house. This made it easier for me to reach out and grab the snake in hand.

One of my favorite things not to do is to grab a snake with my hand. Somehow it just is not natural. At least for me. I hurried over to our front garden and released the critter. Quickly it vanished in the undergrowth.

This episode prompted several snake memories to flashback simultaneously. I have in the past shared some of these with you. If ever I should write a book on my encounters with these dreaded crawlers the title would be, “Snakes I Have Known.”

The first memory flashing to mind was from 1938. A king snake lived in our chicken house at Beauxart Gardens. I was 3-years-old and can remember vividly the yellow lines drawn erratically over his shiny black body. I called it my “pet snake.” Mom was fearful of my becoming too chummy with even a good snake. She did not want me to think that all snakes made nice pets.

Then when I was 4-years-old, there was that copperhead in the vacant lot beside our house in Nederland. When my mother found out I had chased a red-headed snake into a coffee can, she set the entire field on fire trying to eradicate the beast. However, the copperhead lived. At least we found no charred snake.

Later, as a teenager in Beaumont, my friends and I frequented Twin Lakes. This was a small lake south of Beaumont between the highway and the Neches River. The perch fishing was terrific and the water moccasins were prolific. We became so accustomed to the moccasins that we paid them little attention. We just made sure we did not step on one. No snake likes the bottom of a foot.

My big sister stomped a water moccasin to death one afternoon out at Pine Island Bayou. It all was one big accident. When she stepped on the snake, it started jumping. My sister persisted in screaming and jumping up and down. The snake died of injuries caused by blunt forces to the head and body. Then my big sister threw up.

I have more snake stories than space allows. I just know that when my wife yelled out that there was a snake on our front porch I just knew that it was…

Another day; another snake story.

Winston Hamby


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