For those of you who think living in a small town is boring, I beg to differ.
Last week, I spent the morning working over at FOCUS. FOCUS is just up the street from our new house, and it was a lovely day, so I walked there and back. As I approached our house, I noticed something very odd on the front porch. At first glance, I figured it was some trash. With all the renovations we have done, our porch had collected a significant amount of trash. But we had done a great deal of work to clear it off, so I was surprised to see a black shape against the wall.
Once I got closer, I realized it wasn’t a piece of trash. Instead, there was a humongous snake trying to crawl up the wall of the front of our house near our kids’ room window! YIKES!
I’m not as freaked out by snakes as I am, say, mice (ironically), but I’m certainly not a fan. My first thought was for Molly, who is, in fact, deathly afraid of snakes. She has recurring nightmares about them. So I was afraid she would see me approaching and walk out to meet me. I stopped and watched the snake for a minute, not knowing what to do. It saw me, as well, and laid pretty still. So my next logical step was to post the predicament on Facebook & Twitter, as I tried to process what to do next. Of course, my friends got a kick out of reading the adventure, which I documented along the way. My main concern was not knowing what kind of snake this was and if it was a poisonous breed. What to do!
I decided to go inside and tell Molly not to come out. Luckily, she was upstairs and when I told her, she planned to stay there. About that time, I had to go pick Tai up from school, so, against my better judgement, I left the snake there.
I sped over and got Tai and came right back, and found the snake still there. I got Tai in the house safely, and determined I needed help. So when such things like this happen, I usually turn to John & Charlotte Winsness. I left a panicked message on their voicemail, and followed that with a call to our dear Senior Warden, Peggy Martin. Peggy shared my horror, but unless I wanted gunshot holes in my porch, she and Doug weren’t going to be much help. I did want the snake removed, but wanted it to be removed alive, if possible, although I don’t blame them for wanting to blow the thing to smithereens. The temptation was there. Peggy recommended calling Bill and Faith Birkhead, who are friends of St. Nicholas, and Bill a biology professor at Columbus State.
Charlotte called back, and said she could come over on her way to the church, but it was going to be a little while. In the meantime, I called Faith. Faith was up at the Art Works studio in Pine Mountain. She asked me a few questions about the color and head of the snake, then said, “I’ll be there in 15 minutes, get a rake and a pillow case.” About 10 minutes later, she was there (she must have taken a short cut).
In the meantime, the snake had moved. It slithered off the porch and into the bushes. This was even more frightening because I couldn’t see it. Instead, I could hear it’s creepy crawling through the grass and leaves. I was afraid to get too close, lest it strike me (of course), but couldn’t let it get away either! Oh, the drama!
Faith arrived and jumped out of her car. I handed her the rake and she immediately pulled the snake out. Then, in a stunning feat of fearlessness and fortitude, Faith grabbed the snake by it’s head with her bare hands. HER BARE HANDS, I TELL YOU! It was all over.
She held it up for me and showed me that it was merely a gray rat snake. It was quite large, as you can see, about 3-4 feet long. I got a great biology lesson in how rat snakes keep other rodents away and other more poisonous snakes away. I also heard a couple of harrowing tales of Faith’s previous snake battle, which included a few bites.
She finally tossed it in the woods behind the house. So our visitor will probably be back, but I certainly now know what it looks like.
John and Charlotte both showed up to save the day too, and I was thankful to have a battalion of snake warriors at the ready.
It was quite and adventure. You can trace the whole event in real time at my Facebook page and scrolling down my older posts to get a good laugh. I think the funniest comment was by my buddy Bill Sutley, who said, “Before Jeff spreads any salacious misinformation … I’m a member at Hamilton Baptist, across from Jeff’s new home, and we’ve never done any snake handling!”
I learned a lot, but the true moral of the story: When you have snakes in your life, rely on Faith!