Shortly after we bought our house in North Carolina two and half years ago, our next door neighbors invited us over for a drink. Our neighbors live on the mountain full-time, and have for a number of years. They are delightful and we have very much enjoyed getting to know them. I have always remembered that first evening how Mrs. S told me that in all of their years on the mountain, they have never seen a snake. She then explained her theory as to why the snakes don’t live on the mountain – but to be honest, I don’t remember that part. I clocked out (happily) after “no snakes”.
I have kept that information tucked into my brain and it has allowed me to do some things that I may have hesitated at if there was a threat of snakes – such as gather wood, forge paths through the forest, garden, walk around the yard barefoot, etc.
This past week, I was in the mountains by myself for a few days. The plan was that my hubby would join me up there this weekend, but work (the four letter word) got in the way and so back to Savannah I came.
At about 4:45 am on the morning I was to come back, Gracie came and woke me up to take her outside to go to the bathroom. (For those of you that do not know, Gracie is a dog. I swear I would not make my child go to the bathroom outside. At least not in the middle of the night.). So, I stumbled to the door and opened it. Gracie will sometimes go right off the porch, but this time, she wanted to walk down our front walk and into the driveway.
We have bears on our mountain. They are tame in the sense that one has knocked on another neighbor’s kitchen door, but not tame in the sense that they just want to say hello. Due to the threat of the bears, I do not let my animals get out of my sight. So down our walk I go at 4:45 a.m. after Gracie. Business is accomplished and we turn around to come back.
We have one of those really cool front door mats that are made out of recycled flip-flops. Have you seen them? They are multi-colored and, obviously, very environmentally friendly. I felt very good about having it until this particular morning. Apparently, they are also good at masking things on or under it.
Gracie and I get back to the door and I go to step on the mat and I see it. A snake. Between me and the door. I freeze. Gracie bumps into the back of my legs. I quell the rising panic in my chest. I quickly weigh my options and decide that wandering the mountain in my pajamas and being mauled by a bear at 4:45 a.m. is a much worse risk then a single snake bite (plus, there was always the chance that it wasn’t poisonous).
The decision was made; I was going over the snake. Here was the tricky part though – I needed to get Gracie over the snake too. She was much more prone to being interested in the snake if she saw him (I am assuming it was a “he” – something about the sinister look). And if she poked at him, he would be more apt to bite either her or me. There was only one solution. I picked up my sixty-one pound squirming bulldog who at this point thought her mother had lost her mind, kicked the door open and then jumped over the snake. It was a decent athletic accomplishment (and again, all in my pajamas).
Safely inside and breathing heavily, I realized that there was one more thing I needed to do - collect photographic evidence. I was a little worried that if I opened the door, he would come slithering in, over my bare feet. I first got a stool, positioned it to the right of the door, stood on it, opened the door, snapped the shot and slammed the door. It is a really poor picture – and remember, I am six feet tall and the stool was at least three feet tall – so the snake is a lot bigger when you are not looking at it from nine feet away. Trust me when I say it was huge.
Since I am now wide awake with adrenalin rushing, I decide that I might as well get showered and start back to Savannah. I am dying to tell my husband about the snake, but I do not want to wake him. I am on the road when he calls me at about 7:30.
“You won’t believe what happened to me this morning.”
The story gushes out of me, just as I have told it above – starting with how I had to go out with Gracie to watch for bears and ending with us safely inside. After I finish, breathless again after re-living the excitement, there is silence on the other end. Finally, my husband says “dear, I have just one question.”
My mind is racing and I figure it is one of three questions – (a) do you want me to call the pest guy to rid the mountain of all snakes? (b) Do you need therapy? Or (c) would jewelry help? I am ready to answer “yes” to any of those.
“What were you going to do if you ran into the bear at 4:45 am in your pajamas with no one else home??”