January 9 – In late December, Dale had gone downstairs to get something that he needed to use to get the lid off a jar full of canned tomatoes. When he came back up the stairs, I was finishing off the supper preparations and I had my back to him so was quite surprised when he called “Look at this. I sure was surprised to see that garter snake lying on the rug right in front of the washer!”Well, when I heard the word snake, I became more interested! Now don’t think that I am like most women who seem to have been afraid of snakes since they were born, because that would be far from the truth.
Sure, I don’t think of them as something delightful, and I could easily get along if I never saw another one. But many of them are really beautiful and I really like the way they slither around, usually not moving in a straight line, but getting off to where they want to go as soon as possible.
This particular snake was about a foot and a half long, and was probably the same one I saw the other day. How it got into the basement I don’t think that we will ever find out. But we do have some pics, maybe five or six to help us remember. I took some of the snake while Dale held it and kept trying to get its head in the right place so it would be a little easier to see.
I wondered as I took the pictures if the snake might be the same one I had seen several weeks ago when I was working in another area of the basement. As I bent over to pick up something on the floor, I was just a little startled when under the small back window I saw a snake coiled up. I wanted Dale to see it before I got rid of it, so up the stairs I ran—yes, ran! Ever since I knew him, and that’s more than sixty years ago in Africa, Dale would be checking out those animals but by the time we got back to the basement, there was no snake in sight!But this time, Dale wanted some pictures, so as he held it in various positions, I took several. Then Dale laid it on the floor for the cat to play with. She patted it around and enjoyed a few minutes of exploration before giving up and walking away. When she glanced back over her shoulder, she decided to give the snake one more chance at being friendly. No way was that garter snake pretending to be anything but a wild creature. It didn’t move much as the cat investigated, but when there was no point left in their trying to be friends, the cat moved on.
Dale picked up the snake once more and carried it down to the basement. I was more than surprised to see him start down the stairs with the snake, rather than open the back kitchen door and let it move on outside.When he came back, I was standing at the back door ready to ask my question. Since he probably figured I would ask about where the snake was, he beat me to it. “I couldn’t put the snake outside right now. It’s really cold out there, and even in the basement he felt pretty cold.” Who knows? Maybe by the time spring or summer arrives, “our” snake will move back outside. I doubt that he will be able to tell the full story to his cronies. Oh, well they wouldn’t believe it anyway!
Speaking of snakes, I have no problem remembering a number of snake stories from the days we spent in Africa, so I asked Dale to tell one for me. He did, and here is his retelling of the tale:
It happened when we were living in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Chris and I were out walking one day near the mission with our dog Blitz, when suddenly up ahead a snake reared up, in alarm because of the nearness of the dog. With its spread hood, it was obviously a cobra. There was a black band across the front of the hood, telling us that it was a spitting cobra. Blitz did not see the snake, and soon it dropped down and headed for safety towards a hole in a nearby termite mound.To prevent its escape, I rushed forward and seized it by the tail, which was all that was not in the hole. The snake held firm and would not release its grip for some time. In the meantime, Chris was rushing around, trying to find a good strong stick with which to hold the snake’s head down until I could seize it by the neck to prevent its turning to bite me or spit venom on me. Every stick that Chris found was rotten or had been chewed on by termites.
Eventually the snake grew tired and released its hold on the hole wall, and came out, with me still holding onto its tail! To prevent its turning its head towards me so it could spit its venom, I began whirling it around my head and centrifugal force kept the head facing away. Eventually Chris gave up on her stick search and so I was obliged to just swing the snake’s head hard against a tree trunk and kill it. All ended well for all…except for the snake.
Lots more stories along that line, but not for now! – CHRIS