The days have grown cold here. We’ve had drizzle and rain, mixed with cool temperatures. The result is not good. People forget how to drive on the ice, so there have been a fair amount of car accidents.
Today, I thought back to July, when it was warm and humid and all our time was spent outside. I thought of a story that I would like to tell.
This is about:
When I have tried to tell this story in the past, my 6 year old son interrupts me every time and says, “Wait, wait, wait. Here it is…”
So, it is my turn to say, “Here it is.”
This is the story of The Snake.
It was a beautiful day for July. Usually in Kansas, July is just hot and humid. I don’t just mean hot and humid. I mean melt-in-the-shade, and I-feel-like-there‘s-a-wet-blanket-in-the-air-humid. This year hasn’t been nearly as hot as usual. I’ll take it. Even if it means extra cold days in the winter. I love the warm and windy days we have been enjoying lately.
It was one of those beautiful, warm, slightly-windy days in July. My kids had been jumping in and out of our tiny blow-up pool. I set up a lawn chair under the only shade tree near their play area. I looked at the amazing blue sky, dotted with a few puffy white clouds. I sighed deeply. Refreshing. Relaxing.
Once my kids were done with the water, we laid out beach towels, blankets, and pillows in the shade and had a snack. While they snacked, I read a chapter-book to them. They were quietly listening, munching on crackers. The wind blew in their hair. The blue sky just radiated the beauty of the day. I was at peace.
Then it turned. Quickly.
I was busy reading when suddenly my 3-year-old, Miss Independent, started screaming. I looked at her and she was backing off her towel, screaming. The Snake had slithered onto her towel and was headed toward her, in the typical snake-like S-shape as he went.
My reaction was of empathy for how she felt: I yelled.
My sons like to exaggerate this part of the story. THEY say that Miss Independent yelled and Mommy screamed. Let me take this moment of me telling the story and say: No. I only yelled. Then I quickly acted. I grabbed Miss Independent and got her out of the way of The Snake. She was shaking. I held her. The Snake slithered quietly away, not causing any harm to anyone, just upsetting the calm of our beautiful day.
I did what any mother would do in that close-to-serious situation: I laughed. I could not stop laughing, even as I held and comforted my scared daughter. I laughed because I felt silly for yelling first, rather than just acting. I laughed because of how crazy it felt after enjoying such a beautiful, peaceful day. My lovely 3- year-old was finally calm and said, “I will never sit on that pillow again.”
My boys (ages 6 and 4) were in go-mode as all of this was happening. They were hunting immediately. The Snake had slithered under some farm equipment that was stored under the lean-to near our shade-tree. I went quickly and got the hoe . . . and a jar.
(Let me pause and share this: I was certain that the snake was harmless. It was quite small too, so I was not worried. I was certain that it was a small ring neck snake (as seen in the picture above). They are very common in our area.)
For the next 10 minutes, we set about trying to locate the snake. This made me nervous. I do not like knowing that there is a slithery thing nearby and NOT knowing where it is. I prefer to know exactly where I need to be to avoid certain slithery creatures.
Our small kitten found The Snake. We set about trying to coax it into the jar. This wasn’t easy. Snakes are quick and smart. Several times we thought we had The Snake in the jar, but it would quickly dart out and get away.
Snakes are funny, too. I’ve seen them slither along the top of the grass. Then, in a moment, they duck their heads under the grass and literally disappear.
This happened a few times as we tried to capture The Snake. The five of us (myself, my boys – 6 & 4, my daughters – 3 &1) were standing in a circle, knowing that The Snake had just been right there. We watched quietly.
Suddenly, I saw The Snake. It was quietly and slowly slithering under my 1-year-old’s foot. She stood there, unaware that The Snake was under her foot at all! Luckily, she’s lightweight. I reached and grabbed under her armpit and was able to swing her next to me. That moment was a very creepy moment for me.
Not long after, we were able to finagle The Snake into the jar and get the lid on.
The moment the lid was on the jar, both of my boys started yelling. It was like a war-cry went up from our yard!
“Yeeeaaahhh! We caught our first snake! Woo-hoo!!! Allll-right!” (And I thought, “Our first snake? How many more will there be?”)
It would have been incomplete without a small dance, so they each danced around in a circle for a moment while they whooped and hollered.
The afternoon quickly quieted down. My girls had their rest time while my boys and I observed The Snake and googled information on how to care for it. (There are details of this story that aren’t very exciting, but we did learn a LOT about this particular type of snake. I’m glad that my boys enjoy research!) They caught a cricket and a grasshopper for The Snake to eat. They loaded the jar with a rock and grass. The Snake enjoyed the rock. We soon discovered that it was ready to shed its skin. The boys (and I) really wanted to see that occurrence.
After a few days of watching The Snake as I did my dishes, he finally shed his skin. But the stinker did it all at night, so we missed the whole thing! I couldn’t believe it.
My boys decided that it was time to let The Snake go back to his family. So, our whole family attended his farewell. We took him back to where we captured him. This seems ridiculous, I know, but my boys were certain that’s what needed to be done. (The research and what they knew of the snake helped.)
Since that day, we have found larger snake skins in the yard. Close to the house. Again, I like to KNOW where the slithery little creatures are, so this not-knowing freaks me out.
Along with all of the excitement that The Snake brought, it also brought so much learning. Yes, my kids learned a lot of information about snakes. But, we learned some biblical things as well. We talked about WHY women in particular are so uneasy with snakes. We learned about the sin in the Garden. We talked about disobedience and deception. We talked about making good choices.
And I hope that they can remember all of it, and not just the part where Mommy yelled about a snake.