I’m not really into nature. I mean I like sitting in my backyard— on a blanket in the shade, slathered in insect repellant and less than twenty paces from air-conditioning, my refrigerator and/or indoor plumbing but as far as like, braving the wild? I’m not a fan.
Mostly I don’t like animals. Tis true that our two cats Dottie and Skeeter (formerly Sweet Pea before we discovered that she had to pee standing up) and Moses, our black lab puppy, have wormed their way into my cold dead animal heart, but I have no interest whatsoever in encountering a “wild” animal in it’s natural habitat. It just seems like a bad idea. I have my space, animals should have their space.
My space being the great indoors and the whole internet. I don’t have a problem with scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed and seeing a picture of your domesticated animal— I get it. You love your dog so much and he is so cute we all need to see him. Fine. I don’t have to “like” it but I can scroll by unoffended. But the next time somebody on my newsfeed posts a picture of a dead snake, I’m going to drive to their house, knock on their door and thump them on the forehead. Right between the eyes.
This is a thing that people do these days. Now, instead of killing a snake in your yard and asking a neighbor what it is, people kill the snake, take pictures then post them on Facebook. Which begs the question, at this point, does it matter?
I can tell you what kind of snake it is. It’s a dead one.
Does it really matter now if it was just a garden snake? Will you now give the harmless snake you just murdered a proper burial to assuage your guilt? Will learning that it’s a poisonous snake keep your heart from hammering out of your chest the next time you see a snake in your yard? Knowing what a garden snake looks like, will you now saunter towards it chuckling to yourself saying, “Oh look at that precious little snake! Come here little guy!” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “Nay.” You will still run screaming like a girl in the opposite direction. So why? Why must you post your pictures on the internet?
All I’m saying is, GIVE ME A WARNING. Give me the chance to look away or brace myself. I don’t run out in the wilds of the Mississippi Delta showing pictures of my kids to unsuspecting wild life. Let’s follow their example and give them the same courtesy.
My husband is quite the opposite of me. He might, given the opportunity, cuddle with a garden snake. He loves to load our kids up in the car and take them on “adventures” around the Delta. I’m always invited but rarely accept his invitation. Driving down a gravel road in the middle of a soybean field might sound like an amazing time to him but unless there is an actual destination in mind and a bag full of snacks for our kids I simply can’t do it. Call me crazy if you will, but voluntarily getting in a car to drive around with three kids and a dog isn’t my idea of a good time.
Two weeks ago Zeb took off with Moses and the girls on an adventure, within the hour he was texting me pictures. They’d found a spot on the river where the water was a foot deep all the way across. There were sandbars everywhere. The girls had stripped down to play in the water and Moses was frolicking in the background. It looked idyllic, so this weekend when one of my best friends from college brought her three-year-old son to visit, I knew exactly where we needed to go.
Of course I couldn’t just walk out the door as Zeb would have. Everyone needed clean, dry clothes, snacks, towels, juice boxes and plenty of insect repellant. My first red flag that I should have stayed at home came when after driving for five minutes down a gravel road, Zeb stopped under an overpass littered with trash.
“Um… this wasn’t in the pictures.”
“You just have to walk through those weeds a little to get to the river,” Zeb said.
Second red flag. Weeds + river= snakes in their natural habitat.
“I didn’t realize we had to walk through tall grass. I would’ve worn long pants. And snake proof boots.”
As soon as the weeds tickled my calves my heart rate increased. When I saw the death slide of mud I was going to have to scale to get to the actual river my heart stopped completely.
“Is it too late to go home?”
Zeb rolled his eyes.
I lasted exactly twelve minutes, standing on the sand bar holding my friend Lori’s hand for moral support. Every time one of hour kids got close to the weedy riverbank, I squeezed her harder. Zeb finally realized it wasn’t humanly possible for me to relax and began herding all the kids towards the death slide and the car. If going down the death slide was challenging, going up was death defying.
Lori, was wearing flip-flops and was struggling up the muddy death slide. My heart was pounding as weeds touched the back of my legs. I knew any second we would see a snake and I would die.
Lori stumbled and slipped, yelling, “PUSH ME!!”
I reached forward with both hands and pushed Lori’s rear— pushing her facedown into the mud.
“I meant push me FORWARD! Not DOWN, you jerk!” She laughed as she climbed up out of the mud.
We laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks and put our muddy kids back into the car.
“Wow, just… wow. At least the kids had fun,” Lori said.
“Yeah I know. And also? This week’s column just wrote itself.”