The Hula’s are animal lovers. Not in the PETA refuse to eat beef and throw tomatoes on your fur coat way. We’re the spoil our dog, feed the birds, squeal at baby penguins kind of animal lovers. We love zoos and homeless cats and dogs. We feed stray dogs. We feed rabbits, squirrels and birds. Our backyard is a virtual smorgasbord for critters. We have doves, finches, hummingbirds, baby bunnies and an occasional possum. We also have a fascinating assortment of bugs, butterflies and spiders. We love all of God’s creatures….except one…snakes. We each have an irrational fear of snakes and any that slither into our yard risk decapitation, even the nonpoisonous ones. That’s because we don’t take the time to check out the shape of its head or the markings on its back. The only marking we see is a big fat bullseye. Even the smallest of snakes terrifies us. We can’t go into the reptile house at the zoo without jumping and hollering at the slightest sound or movement. I told you we were irrational.
At least once a summer one of us stumbles on a snake, and I told myself last week we were overdue for this year’s scare. I must have jinxed us because Hubby walked up on one in Mama J.’s and Papa T.’s garage yesterday. IN THE GARAGE! MERE FEET FROM THE BACK DOOR!! The only thing worse than finding a snake in the yard is finding one near the entrance to your home. A snake in the house is a nightmare I used to have as a kid. I dreamed about it on a regular basis. While other kids were worried about the boogeyman under their bed, I was sweating over wandering reptiles. I grew up “in the sticks” as we like to say around here and roamed cattle fields and country roads. I saw a lot of snakes, so you’d think I would have gotten used to them. Not at all.
I think I inherited this fear from my mother who was a vicious snake slayer and was always preaching the dangers of copperheads and cottonmouths. I remember her hacking more than one snake to death with a hoe. A snake crossing the road didn’t have a chance if we happened to be zipping down the highway, and she was behind the wheel. She would slam on the brakes and drive back and forth over the snake until she was satisfied it was dead. Once she marched all of us kids out into the yard to see all the baby snakes inside of a pregnant copperhead the neighbor had killed. All of this left a big impression upon me, and I can’t rid myself of my fears. I’ve tried. When my fourth grade teacher brought his boat constrictor to school I was the first girl to volunteer to hold it. I held it, but I wanted nothing to do with another one. I just can’t seem to help myself, and neither can Hubby. He’s 6’4” and is a pretty imposing figure. He’s not scared of much. He’ll hear a noise in the middle of the night and actively pursue a prowler while I’m inclined to cover up my head and hope it will go away. However, he screams like a girl if there’s a snake around. He did yesterday. Mama J. heard him from inside the house. His first reaction was to kill it with the first thing he could find. In the past that’s included everything from a hoe to a .44 magnum Dirty Harry handgun that sounds like a cannon when it goes off. Before he could find a weapon Teen Angel came running and begged him to save the snake. She does this with other problem critters, like the mole that Hubby spent two weeks chasing down in CaddyShack fashion with shovels and hoses. She decided the furry little mole was too cute to kill, so Hubby relented and released him in the nearby woods. Now the last thing Hubby wanted to do was to catch that snake, but he couldn’t say no. He carefully corralled it into a box and headed down the woods to let it go…except he dropped it…about fifty feet from our yard…and it slithered out. We don’t know where it is now, but I suspect it’s headed back toward our yard where one of us is likely to run into it again before cold weather. I don’t know what’s worse, running into the snake or worrying about running into the snake. That little fellow needs to be careful. This governor won’t give him a stay of execution, and a pardon is out of the question, provided I actually get close enough to him to pull the switch.
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