When I was a teenager we had moved even further out in the country than when I was a youngster and all my brothers and sisters were at home. They were all gone now except for me and SuziCate. I was probably maybe 14 or so at the time that I am thinking of. That would have put Suzi at around 9 years old. I believe it was summer time. Maybe late spring or early fall but I believe summer. I remember I was wearing shorts and sandals and for some reason, knee socks. I even remember what they looked like. The knee socks were a very flimsy nylon type material and they had maroon flowers overlaid all over them. I remember the sandals I had on were beige that criss crossed across my toes and they were sort of a wedge heel. I don’t know why I remember that part so vividly but I do. Probably because I was looking down at them for such a long time. But, I digress.
We lived in an area of our town called “the Glades”. NO, not the Everglades, as in Florida, just “the Glades” (it was in rural Virginia). Our nearest neighbors were my aunt and cousins who lived about a half a mile away, as the crow flies (as my daddy would say).
There were several ways to get to my aunt’s house from our trailer. The quickest and least complicated was probably to take the main road, which is now a black top (asphalt) road, but, at the time was a gravel road. I didn’t like taking the gravel road because of the traffic and dust it would kick up when the cars would go by and which we would be inhaling. Also as my mama used to put it, if any heathens happened by they’d know that no one was home and might try to break in and steal something. I don’t know what she thought we had that they’d want to steal, although I’m sure they’d find something!
So, this left either going across the yard and garden and climbing across the creek and then cutting across the hayfield and finally getting to the dirt road that led between my aunt’s house and “The Old Home Place”, which is where my grandma, Big Mama, lived. Or you could take the worn driveway/path that led past our trailer out to where it intersected with the dirt road to my grandmother’s house and then turning left and following the dirt road past where it crossed the creek. This was the way I usually went, unless I was in a hurry. Either of the last two ways entailed crossing the creek and with my lovely gracefulness…hoping I didn’t fall in it while crossing it!
This particular day we (me and SuziCate) had walked over to my aunt’s house for something, I don’t even remember what, but we were on our way back home. My oldest cousin lived with his wife and kids right across the dirt road from my aunt in his trailer. His wife and my aunt (his mother, her mother-in-law) didn’t get along the best at all very well and might go weeks without speaking to each other even though you could literally throw a rock from one place to the other and hit it even if you weren’t a very good aim! Again, I digress….
This day, we were walking back home and for whatever reason decided to go through the field and across the creek and garden, etc., etc. SuziCate, in all her infinite energy, had taken off like a bullet for home so she could beat me and then taunt me all evening with her little sing song “I beat you, I beat you!” so that I would be forced to show my teenage superiority and silence her with threats of death or worse. I WAS a teenager after all and she wasn’t even in double digits yet! So, off we go traipsing across the field and I’m watching her going running off like a crazy over energetic kid hoping she wouldn’t drown too badly when she fell off the creekbank and banged her head on a rock because she wouldn’t listen to my pleas to slow down or she was going to hurt herself! You know, I AM the older sister, and as thus, had a vastly superior knowledge of such things. Like paying attention to where you step when walking through knee high hay, right? R I G H T! Suddenly, with my next step, I feel a squish under my foot following by the immediate feeling of something simultaneously wrapping around my ankle and lower calf both right to left and left to right at the same time!
I was afraid to look down. You wanna know what I felt? I felt pure, utter, PANIC and TERROR course through my veins because I just KNEW it was a copperhead snake! If it had been a rattler he would have given me a warning. Quick as a wink I kicked my leg as hard as I could and I saw the snake go flying through the air! Thank God it hadn’t bitten me! My first instinct was to run like a bat out of hell as fast as I could AWAY from it, but, it was now BETWEEN me and my baby sister. And as annoying as she was and as annoyed as I was at her at that moment for not listening to me… I didn’t want anything to hurt my baby sister! I knew I had to find it. Besides she and my little cousin played out here all the time and if I didn’t kill it, it would just go and get it’s little snake friends and come back and get them BOTH while they were playing (yes, that’s exactly how my over active imagination works).
I found it kind of coiled up about 10 or 15 feet from where I had kicked it from my leg. I called to Suzi (in a panic) to bring me a stick so I could hold it down until we (she) could find something to kill it with. I called her and she started running back to me… TOWARDS the friggin’ snake! I told her to STOP and go get me a stick. She ran off towards the creek and yelled back she couldn’t find a stick. I yelled at her that she was on a freakin’ creek bank… she could TOO find a freaking stick and she better bring me a big one and she better bring it RIGHT NOW if she knew what was good for her. A few minutes later, here comes little SuziCate, all maybe 50 or 60 pounds of her, dragging a freaking TREE! Seriously, a TREE…. Roots and all still attached and wet from the creek. I guess that superhuman strength you get from all that adrenalin kicked in! So, I direct her around the snake and she brings me the tree and I send her off to get me a rock so we can throw it on the snake’s head to kill it.
I find the snake and finally am able to secure it with the friggin’ tree a couple of inches below its neck, all the while writhing and doing it’s little “I’m a really pissed off poisonous snake and I’m gonna eat you alive when I get loose” dance that all pissed off poisonous snakes do. I have no clue how I was able to secure it in the first place because I’m not that great an aim (unless it’s a pistol and then I’m great) because I’m a terrible bowler and such. And then to be able to HOLD it in place while it was doing its little dance was a miracle. So, anyway… here comes little SuziCate, back from the creek with a friggin’ BOULDER. That thing had to have been 20 lbs. I have no clue how the poor little thing could carry it! She dragged it over to where I was and I told her to drop it on the snakes head. She was scared to. I assured her I had him down so he couldn’t get loose. JUST DROP THE FREAKING ROCK ON HIS HEAD AND KILL HIM!!! So, Superkid SuziCate raises the rock over her head and heaves it as hard as she can and it lands…. About two inches from the snake head, to the left…. GREAT…..just friggin’ great!
I tell her she’s gonna HAVE to go get another rock and this time she had BETTER be a good aim because there is no way in heck I can let go of this snake now without one or both of us getting bit, and I am getting really tired and my arms are aching. So, off she runs to procure another cannonball. And she comes back with another boulder and drops IT…. Two feet on the OTHER side of the snakes head. Now I know I don’t have room to get another rock big enough to kill it that will fit between the two boulders and I’m sure not gonna reach down there to move either one! I’m between a rock and a hard place (just like Mr. Snake’s head) or maybe I’m just up shit creek without a paddle, so to speak. So, I tell SuziCate she’s going to have to run BACK to my aunt’s house or my cousins and get someone to come help us.
Thankfully, my cousin had just gotten home from work and he came back with Suzi carrying a hoe and he put the pissed off snake out of its misery and thoroughly chastised both of us (but especially me since I should have been old enough to know better) for our multitude of sins…. Walking across the field instead of sticking to the road, wearing open toed sandals while walking through a knee high hay field, and trying to take on a poisonous snake by ourselves without proper instruments in our possession, etc., etc. blah, blah, blah…. Gimme a break! I was a teenager and didn’t appreciate his much older wisdom, THEN…. BUT… After that encounter, I can tell you, I always tried to take a big walking stick with me when I walked out in the fields and woods and even now, here, living “in civilization” I carry what my hubby calls my OC stick (which stands for “oh, crap”) with me when I walk. I have even used my OC stick while walking through my neighborhood a few times to keep a couple of particularly yappy dogs who were wanting to bite me at bay on occasion.
That wasn’t the first or last time I ever encountered snakes or other creatures while living in the Glades, but, it probably was the most entertaining. I can still see, in my mind’s eye, little SuziCate trudging up that creek bank and across that hay field with that frigging tree in tow! So, Thanks SuziCate! You ARE the bomb. You ROCK…. Or should I say You BOULDER?