Courtesy Chris Evans/Illinois Wildlife Action Plan
It has been brought to my attention by my young farmhands that while I have posted many of their antics and shenanigans, I have not divulged nearly enough of my own “learning curves.” Although I attempted to wiggle my way out of this one, my own words were used against me. “This is about us as a family,” the three older ones mocked. “We’re learning together.”
My dear husband merely put one hand up and shook his head as if to say “I’m not getting involved.” He and my uncorrupted 4-year-old were the only ones that did not partake in the lynch mob. So, kissing my youngest atop his head, I asked “Have I told you lately you’re my favorite?” and headed towards my computer to write.
Hi my name is Kristy, your dimwitted new neighbor!
Shortly after we moved to the country, I was returning from the store in town. It was dark, and I had two of the kids with me. Just as we were approaching the edge of our neighbors’ property, I saw something lying across my side of the road, stretched from the white dotted lines to the solid yellow line. As I slowed down I realized, to my horror, it was a massive snake! A thousand thoughts ran through my brain at one time, as well as every tall tale ever told about snakes eating animals, kids, cars, et cetera.
Apparently, my brain and my feet had stopped communicating at this point, as my foot never left the break from my initial thought to slow down. I am now stopped in the middle of the road, having managed somehow to pin a portion of this snake under my front tire. He let me know I had run over him, in part at least, by raising his body up the side of my car and peering through the passenger window as if to say, “Um, excuse me! Did you know you’re sitting on my tail?”
My brain had yet to resume conversation with the lower half of my body, and my foot was still firmly planted on the brake as I sat in a state of pure petrifaction.
My children, being typical boys, are in awe. Feeling safe within the confines of the metal and glass, they were glued to the windows, completely entranced, as they simultaneously exclaimed, “Cool!” Luckily, the screaming I was hearing was safely tucked inside my own brain and had yet to pass my lips.
I’m not sure how long we had been sitting there, but the next thing I knew, a truck pulled up beside me. The driver and his wife motioned for me to roll down my window as they proceeded to inquire if I was having car trouble. Shaking my head I managed to squeak out “Rattle … snake,” and point to the large, now somewhat angry, head still peering at me. Gasping at the sight, the man quickly reached behind him to grab his shotgun while his equally shocked wife grabbed her cell phone and called for backup.
The next several minutes were a bit hazy, but they involved me having to remove my foot off the brake and put the vehicle in park. The other driver further instructed me to turn my headlights off so he could pull up in front of me and “get a good look him,” from the safety of his vehicle of course.
By this time, backup had arrived, all armed, in a truck with flood lights across the top. Several other passersby had also stopped to lend a hand or at least watch the show. A few nice men were even directing traffic around my car, which was still parked in the middle of the road, now fully illuminated by the flood lights and high beams shining upon it.
It turned out, my neighbor’s son lived on the property across the street. Hearing that there was a woman trapped in a car with two children by a massive rattler, he called his dad, and they also joined our little party. There was quite a debate about how to shoot the snake without shooting the car. Not to mention there was too much upper body for anyone to comfortably get too close. Actually, no one had even walked to the side of the car yet. The large shadow gliding slowly down my passenger side was more than enough to keep everyone a safe distance back.
My neighbor however is a doer. I have since learned this about him and his son. They don’t over think things; they just do it! Wading through the crowd, the son walked straight up the front of the car, disappeared for a moment and suddenly reappeared, instructing me to “Back up!” The tone of his voice was enough to reconnect my brain and lower extremities, and I promptly did as I was told (slowly though, not wanting to add “ran over by-stander” to the local headlines).
The son reached underneath the car, and pulls out the 6-plus-foot beast. Grabbing its head, he allowed the snake to twist around his arm and torso as he examined its injuries.
“Sweetie,” he declared in a not quite condescending yet somewhat amused country drawl. “Rattlesnakes have rattles! This is Bob—he lives in my barn. See?” he said, holding up Bob’s tail. “No rattle! Bob’s my mouser. Not sure why he’s all the way down here, though. Bet he won’t try it again after tonight!”
News of my traffic stopping faux pas spread like wild fire. To further my humiliation, it turned out the “backup” called was part of the local volunteer fire department. (Yep, we buy a fundraiser calendar every year now.) One thing I’ve learned about living in a small town is that no one forgets anything—ever!
It doesn’t really matter to me, though. A snake at 6 feet 6 inches is still a snake, and they scare me stupid. Regardless, if I am buried in this town, I imagine my head stone will read: Here lies Kristy: Wife, Mother, Snake girl!