Monday, August 11, 2008


Crotalus Molossus

We had a bit of excitement around here last evening. After dinner Justin and Jim went to the garage to practice with Tim and James for an upcoming gig. Dawn and I sat down to watch some Olympic action while the kids played outside for a bit before bed.

At bedtime, I took the kids out to the garage to say goodnight to Justin, since he was leaving early this morning for a business trip. As we turned to go back into the house, the dog alerted to something in a corner a few feet away from us and the back door. We peered into the darkening shadows to see a good sized snake curled in a defensive position.

We occasionally see snakes around the house and pool, but despite their size they are always harmless. However, we always make a habit of calling any and all people in the house to witness the creature, and together assess it and discuss its markings and how we would know if it were a dangerous snake. So of course I turned back into the garage and announced our visitor, while simultaneously pulling the children to a safe distance as we waited for the verdict.

No sooner did we all have a chance to see the snake--he was a beautiful tan color with black markings and a black tail--then we all heard a sound I have never heard in person but recognized instantly: the warning rattle of a rattlesnake.

Of course immediately our collective adrenaline level went through the roof as the garage band transformed into danger exterminators. Jim went for the shovel, and James pulled out a flashlight. Then Dawn arrived in time to hold the dog while Justin attempted to kill the snake in the flowerbed with the shovel, with Tim aiming the light and calling encouragement from behind. Unfortunately the aged garden tool was not the sharpest tool in the shed, so the whole killing business was pretty messy. Fortunately, James was prepared with his handy dandy pocketknife, and was able to use it to cut off the head of the stunned creature while Justin held it down with a long pole Jim had produced out of nowhere.

It was a shame to have to kill such a beautiful creature, but it was entirely too close to the house for comfort. It measured almost three feet long, and bigger around than a garden hose. We did save the head and rattle as souvenirs. I know, we are a bit odd, but we do enjoy all God's creatures, not just the safe furry ones. Justin researched this morning and found this particular snake is the Northern Black-Tailed Rattlesnake.

We thought later of how the children had been in and out of the house all evening, probably close to wherever the snake had been lurking. We could certainly live in fear of such encounters here in the country. But I also think of all the scorpions we have almost stepped on, just in this year. And of all the black widow spiders we have never stumbled across, despite the fact that they really enjoy the red barn fifty feet away from the swimming pool. And I think that we have here yet another example of divine protection. Thank you, Jesus, for protecting the children, the guys, and even the dog from what could have been a pretty dangerous situation.

Wow, what a shot of adrenaline!

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