May 13, 2010

An early morning encounter

I took a walk this morning.  As I went down our long dirt driveway, I encountered a coral snake.  I took me a second or two to remember the mnemonic "red and yellow, kill a fellow, red touch black, venom lack" - this refers to the order of the band colors on this snake.  If the red band is next to the yellow band, it is indeed a poisonous coral snake.  If the red band is next to the black band, it is a non-poisonous milk snake.  Anyway, the snake was about two feet long.  I enjoyed watching him wend his way across the driveway into our neighbor's pasture.  

I like snakes.  I generally don't mess with them, but I enjoy watching them.  I think their skins are very beautiful.  And they are beneficial as many of them eat rodents and other such nuisances.  When we lived in our 100+ year-old house in a small town in Kansas, we had a black snake living in our basement.  Now, this basement was unfinished and more of a dugout with dirt and field stone walls interspersed with concrete rather than what most of you think of as a basement.  I never went down there as there were too many spiders for my tastes.  One spider is too many for my tastes.

The black snake was about six-feet long.  Twice a year, he would climb up the downspout outside our kitchen and shed his skin.  He was non-poisonous and didn't bother us.  He lived in the basement; we lived in the house.  We had lots of wheat fields around us as we lived near the edge of town.  We were the only house on our side of town that did not have problems with mice and rats.  

Now, I would have had a problem with him if he had come up into the house, but he never did so we coexisted harmoniously.  It's not that I would have been scared of him, it's just that running across a snake in your house unexpectedly does tend to startle you.   It would have been different if he had been a pet, but he was more of a friendly neighbor.  I wouldn't have killed him for venturing into the house, I'd have just blocked his access after taking him back to the basement.  Yes, I will pick up non-poisonous snakes.

Once, when were were having foundation work done, our contractor came bolting up out of the basement and exclaimed to me, "Did you know you have a huge snake in your basement?!!"  I said, "Jack! You didn't bother or worse, kill my black snake, did you?"  Poor Jack was perplexed as he expected me to respond by screaming hysterically or running for the shotgun.

He asked, "You don't mind that there's a six-foot-long snake in your basement?!!"  I told him that the snake never came into the house and that if he'd noticed, there were no mice or rats in our basement.  He admitted that he'd noticed that - unusual as we lived so close to a wheat field and in such an old house with a very varmint accessible basement.  

We stood around for a minute and discussed our critter/varmint phobias.  Jack didn't like snakes because they had no legs, though he said he'd leave them alone if they left him alone.  I said I didn't like spiders because they had too many legs; anything with more than four legs should be dead.  Jack said spiders eat bugs, so they are beneficial.  I retorted that a spider was welcome to eat all the bugs it wanted as long as its web was located where I wouldn't run across (or through) it.  If a spider broke this law, I would kill it by whatever means was at hand.  And woe be unto any spider that dared to venture into the house.

I've been getting a lot of stitching done and hope to have another page finished on the BAP soon.  I've also been doing touch-up painting and caulking on our new bathroom.  These tasks bore me out of my mind and I dislike doing them, but someone's got to do it so that the bathroom will get finished.




Rachel S said...

I admire you for letting the snake live in your house. I'm not that brave. I would have took off running if I saw the coral snake. We have copperheads. I stay away from them.

Mary said...

ugh...ugh...ugh. I HATE snakes. Now, spiders I can tolerate.


Gloria said...

I hope the coral snake was the non-poisonous one. (Concerned about Emma)
Snakes are not my phobia but I wouldn't want one living in my house. That's a little too close for comfort.