Part Three: My Snake SagaPart Three: My Snake Saga Do snakes give you the shivers? Then this article is for you!
By Carol Martens
How is it one of God’s creations, beautiful in color, void of arms and legs can move at multiple speeds, climb trees, maneuver through plumbing, survive in almost every climate and swallow creatures bigger than themselves? I guess you could say they are born that way. Some are born live and some hatch from eggs. Some people love them and some people hate them.
It’s my belief that a person who fears reptiles probably had a bad experience with a snake like I had years ago. There are many negative things that influence and stir fear in people. In some cases those bad memories can last a lifetime. Keep in mind as you read my stories I hope to make you laugh and to encourage us all to co-exist with reptiles and to do so with caution. When I walk around my yard, patio or garage I always look down just in case I encounter a reptile to avoid ever getting bit or stepping on one.
THE PAST CAN BITE YOU:
One would think with the boys long gone from my home that the horror stories would end. No chance. The boys still attempt to get a rise out of mom. A good example of this is a Martens’ family houseboat trip we took to Lake Shasta over eight years ago. My son Chris and I each brought our own boats so we could all go bass fishing. At the end of one of our days of fishing I was peacefully sitting on the floor in the back of my boat working on tackle. Chris decided to step onto the front of my boat from the houseboat with his latest find; a snake he caught on the shore. All my nightmares from the past flashed before my eyes. My scream brought everyone out from the houseboat to see who died! Everyone thought I was kidding until they realized I was shaking and could hardly breathe. It wasn’t the snake I was really afraid of, it was the fear of what Chris might do with the snake – like releasing it in my boat. Remember the crotch story and the snake on the gas pedal from my last article? There you go. Chris wisely backed off my boat and peace was restored.
It’s always been common for Chris to hear a rattlesnake while fishing and jump off the boat and go on shore to try and find it. I guess it’s his way of honing his wrangling skills. Chris is a big, stubborn guy but I always win when we’re on my boat! NO REPTILES ALLOWED. Even when he’s driving a car or walking and sees a rattler he will stop and kill it, skin it, cook and eat it. It’s great having him around on a camping trip because he’s like a junkyard dog on snake patrol. Rattlesnakes really do taste like chicken. I actually ate rattlesnake once during a gourmet dinner at a conference in Yosemite. How big and brave of me!
NEVER ENDING BACKYARD STORIES:
Our oldest son Brian has never been one to chase down snakes, but years ago he confronted a rattlesnake by our pool. He had been on his knees pulling weeds and heard a rattle and realized the snake was under the deck just a foot away. He remembered hearing the same sound the day before and under great stress he did the invader in. My husband and I were visiting Chris in Lancaster and Brian called us to share the excitement. It was obvious he was in shock because his deep voice was a few octaves higher as if he had just got off the Viper at Magic Mountain. Did I say viper? I digress.
In recent years, my husband would sit by the pool in the backyard in his mobility chair enjoying the sun and reservoir. One late afternoon after I helped him back in the house, I turned around to go back outside. Just a few feet away from where Jerry had been sitting was a coiled up rattlesnake facing me. I was totally stunned and slowly stepped back into the house and called the fire dept. Big mistake!
Ten minutes later a hook and ladder and a regular fire truck both showed up. Four suited up firemen trudged through my house with shovels into the back yard. I explained the snake had slithered off behind the pool equipment and fence. Would you believe they looked everywhere, but there! I explained to them that by now I was certain the snake had gone under the fence into Millie’s yard which was mostly ivy. They stood a little longer chit chatting and admiring the reservoir and then went next door and trudged through Millie’s house. About 10 minutes later they all returned to their trucks. I asked them if they found it and they said no but to call them if it came back. I replied “Not on your life!” Although they were all really big and handsome, I had already decided that they didn’t like snakes either. From then on I’ve always kept a shovel handy even though I don’t like the idea that I’d have to kill something.
About four years ago, I left my husband, Chris and his wife Trish sitting by the pool while I went to the market to buy some food. Chris was sitting near Jerry by the ever popular ivy and pool equipment. Chris heard a rustle and spun his head around in time to see a rattlesnake pop its head above the ivy. He leaped into action by grabbing a nearby tool and beheading the snake in a flash, (so I was told) and once again he thought it would be fun to scare mom. He laid the dead snake by the pool on the deck just feet away from the shallow end. Jerry remained in his same spot, Trish was on a lounge chair at the other end of the pool and Chris was positioned in a chair by the house with his camera phone.
I arrived home and plopped myself in the shallow end of the pool with a plate of chicken. Everyone was unusually quiet even after I announced hot chicken was in the kitchen for the taking. I then glanced to the left and there it was coming right at me just a few feet away. Jumping up and running towards the house I yelled, “Rattlesnake!” This drew a huge laugh from everyone. That’s just another reason I don’t like snakes; they look alive even when they’re dead. I’m still looking at that snake because Chris put the skin on Jerry’s favorite hat that still hangs on the coatrack.
My articles can take weeks to write and rewrite and the snake stories are no exception. I had spent a few days wrapping up this story and decided to take a little break. I went down stairs and walked over to the patio door. I kid you not; coming right towards me was a rattlesnake. It had been years since I had seen one and I had just finished writing all those patio/snake stories. I stood there looking at this thing and said, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
This time I’m alone and confused what to do first. I snapped some photos with my camera phone and then called Chris in Lancaster for moral support wishing he was here in my time of need. He told me that I would have to kill it if I didn’t want it by the spa or in the patio or garage. I ran and got a flat shovel and came back to find the prowler had gone from the back sliding door around to the kitchen door. It was now facing away from me and just inches from the door. After a heartfelt prayer I slowly opened the door and raised the shovel above my head. Shaking and whimpering I brought it down hard. Oops, I think you chop off the whole head and not just half. To make a long story short I did chop the whole head off. Honestly, I hated doing it. Hopefully it will be the last time I have to kill something. A few days later my neighbor Pete came over and tossed the carcass into the reservoir where I hoped it would be recycled. Even though I still don’t touch snakes or lizards I feel I conquered my fear by dealing with the snake and not calling the fire dept.
I’ve never been concerned with all the other types of snakes that lurk around because they don’t pose a danger to people or pets. My family and I do enjoy feeding bugs to the lizards for entertainment. Now and then lizards find their way into my home. Because I don’t touch them it’s always a huge project getting them out that requires a broom, trash can and moving furniture. It would make a funny home video for sure.
The above was going to be the last thing I had to write about snakes, but I was at Castaic a few days ago fishing in back of a cove. As I turned the boat to leave right in front of me was a 4- foot snake in the water. Feeling the vibration of my trolling motor it stopped and after I went around him it headed back to where it came from. Now and then I’ve encountered snakes swimming in the lakes and they will come on your boat if you’re not watching. Sometimes it’s hard to identify what species they are but Chris looked at my photos and said it was just a gopher snake.
Amen for now.
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