Snakes and Sneaks

It seems that the wild nature animal kingdom was not through seeking its vengeance upon me. Even though nature successfully destroyed my tent trailer over the winter through an infestation of deer mice, nature was still not satisfied and tried to have me eaten by a snake.

Personally, I have nothing against snakes, except that they are vile slimy low-belly ground-crawling scaly creeps. I mean, when a psychiatrist asks their clients to think of the most hideous evil creature image that they, the client, can think of, the client usually mentions a snake, or a lawyer or politician, or the psychiatrist himself, and not in that particular order either.

But comparing snakes to lawyers and politicians and therapists is unfair to the snake. After all, snakes are one of God’s creatures and we should give them the respect they deserve as such. Lawyers and politicians and therapists are man-made creatures and should only be given the respect they earn, after reporting gross income of course.

Anyway, I’m not out to knock certain professions that, when compared to snakes, make the snake look pretty good. No, I am out to knock snakes because one of their number tried to consume me on my vacation.

There I was enjoying a perfectly enjoyable summer camping holiday with my family in our new camper trailer (because the mice got our old trailer) thinking about snakes and how they got mankind off to a bad start with the whole Adam and Eve episode, when it suddenly struck me that I do not like snakes.

Nature, having sensed my dislike of snakes, immediately dispatched a small armada of snakes to be discovered by myself and our children in the rocks along the shore of the lake.

“Look Dad,” my eldest exclaimed, “a snake. A big one too!”

I reacted by violently jumping eight feet in the air directly out of my beach chair.

When I regained my composure, I cautiously sidled up to where my son was standing and peered warily at the rocks he was pointing to.

“You’re absolute right son. That’s a snake. A big one too. Let’s kill it!” was my response.

But my son, dear soul that he is, would have no part in dispatching the snake. Good thing too, because we soon discovered another four or five or twenty snakes nearby. I don’t want to have to face God on judgment day trying to explain why I slaughtered upwards of twenty feet of Garter snake out of plain dumb fear.

So we decided to relocate the snakes away from the lake to a place that was definitely not the place where we were camping. I had to admit it, but my son is very brave, and I am a coward. I observed carefully as my son bent over and picked up a snake in the same manner that one would expect a professional snake handler to handle a snake.

I strongly urged my son to not play a prank on his mother by sneaking up behind her and asking her to close her eyes and put her hands out. And I adamantly encouraged him to not leave a curled up snake in the deep recesses of her purse. Only a crazy man would do these terrible, terrible things.

Anyway, the snake relocation was proceeding swimmingly when I spied one of the devils snaking his way back down the hill towards the sun rocks. Putting all fear aside, I attempted to mimic my son’s professional snake handling ways.

What transpired next is almost too difficult to recount.

When I was a child, I had always been told that Garter snakes do not bite, let alone try to consume an entire adult male human being. So with that though rattling around my cranium, I grabbed the snake, which was about two-feet long, and picked it up off the ground. Apparently the snake did not think that this was such a grand idea. The snake whipped its head around, opened its jaws in the way that only snakes can do and bit my hand, laying lie to what I had been told as a child.

I immediately went into shock by simultaneously falling down and throwing the snake away up the hill. “It tried to eat me,” was the only thought that I had.

I’m all better now. I have the scars to prove to my skeptical family that Garter snakes do indeed try to eat people.

The only real problem I had after the snake incident on my vacation was getting cramps sitting high up in a pine tree while I waited for my wife to get tired and leave. I told my son not to do those terrible, terrible things. I don’t understand kids these days.

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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