Yesterday, I took Kasper to my parents for a bit of a walk about. My dad and Belle, their yellow lab, joined along. The doggers were crashing through the woods. Now, Belle is a bit slower than the rest, so we waited for her to get out of the woods. There’s a reason why Annabelle was shorten to Belle and then too Belly. She looks a bit like a grizzly and huffs and puffs by mid hike.
As she flopped down for a break, I heard the crushing of the fall leaves. It took a minute for my head to wrap around the noise next to me. My first thought was ahhh it’s just Belle. Yet there sat Belle just away not moving. A switch of my head down toward the noise I realized ahhhhh no it was something quite different.
“EVERYONE KEEP MOVING!!!”
This is why I love my dad…. he listens and we’re all jogging away. As he’s running he replies what are we running from. My reply “YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!”
His Reply “IS IT A BEAR!”
Which was rather silly since we’ve agreed the best defense for a bear attack is to stand still and make yourself look really big and make lots of noise. Something we agreed was the best form of defense since I was little. No actual evidence to support this thesis, it just seems like it will work. I think he reverted to our other defense for bear which is outrun the slowest person in your team.
When I replied “Nooo….” He shot me a look and he knew… He knew…
My father has one fear and its snakes. Growing up there were many runs into the house out of breath reaching for the shot gun to rid all the snakes from the property. (YES, I understand tree huggers; snakes are a part of nature- WHATEVER… They’re slimy and can live on your property. And yes it’s lovely that they eat bugs. TRUST ME, THERE’S PLENTY THAT HAVE SNUCK AWAY TO KEEP THE BUG POPULATION DOWN!) One summer I remember an incident where he jumped off the tractor and ran in the opposite direction as the tractor hit the barn. “Snake heaven” the barn was nicknamed. They lived in the rafters and inside the walls, which is no surprise why the barn was demolished in my later years. Snake heaven can also be found in wood piles not just a structure. Back in the day when the family had a wood furnace we always had stacks of wood. Needless to say the wood furnace graduated to the gas furnace ridding us of another snake heaven habitat.
Now another important family jargon name, we use is “jingweeds”, which means weeds that most probably are highly populated with the backless wonders. You learn at an early age the difference between your normal run of the mill weed patch and the illusive “jingweeds” in my family. The best way for the newbie outdoorsy is to venture out for a canoe trip. If the weeds are clumped in a 3′ patch and lead to a nice sunny rock you’re looking at your basic “jingweed” patch. It can get more complex as you learn the balance between moisture, sun and height of the weed. I find though that “jingweed” spotting is a life saver that I’m thankful I learned at an early age.
So back to yesterday afternoon… I looked down I saw the tail of a big brown snake. IT WAS A BIG FATTY ONE TOO! The end of the tail was about 2-1/2 feet in width. I just saw the slither of the tail slide off the trail into the woods.
After a cocktail it was decided… Seeing a snake is never fun but hearing a snake first is never a good sign. If you can hear it as it moves it’s a sure bet that backless wonder is not your run of the mill snake. I almost made it all summer without a snake sighting. Instead we had to mark a new jingweed territory on the property.
Here’s to a snake free summer next year.