It's been a big old day here for the Moons. First off- that's the little dark gray (and yellow) chick whose picture I couldn't post yesterday. For whatever reason I keep wanting to call all of the chicks "he" and I hope that's not the way it really is. But it will be what it will be.
And so will they.
So anyway, Jess and the boys came out today for a visit and the boys helped Boppy in doing some chores and then August wandered in and wanted a book and then Levon joined us and we had lunch and there were a few more books and just the general stuff. Jessie and I talked as we do, and the fellows worked on painting a model car that they want to put together as their mother helped me put the clean sheets on the bed. The afternoon drew on and Levon started showing signs of getting sleepy. They got ready to leave and we were standing outside the back porch, August already in the part of the yard past the little fence where we park the cars and Levon and Jessie still standing on the porch steps and I was on the ground below them when I saw a snake.
"Be careful, Levon. Look Jessie- a snake." I was trying to identify it in my head but she was faster with it.
"Daddy!" she called. "A rattlesnake!"
And indeed, it was. I'd say a juvenile Eastern diamondback, no real rattles yet but you can see where they will be.
Mr. Moon was there in a split second.
"Get back, Mary," he said. For some reason I felt absolutely no threat from the thing. I mean- I had no desire to grab it but I wasn't worried about being a few feet away from it.
I took its picture.
It was quite close to the house, close enough that we were worried that it would crawl under it and Mr. Moon went to get something to kill it with because, well, a rattlesnake under the house is just not a good idea. It's not like it would jump on us but we are in and out the doors a hundred times a day and no, we do not always look where we're walking. I mean- that's just the way it is.
And of course- the children.
So I stood and watched to see where it was going and Jessie and Levon watched from the steps and August came a little closer to see it. The funny thing was, the chickens were fascinated by it. They were in the backyard too, and they circled around it, just watching.
"What are those chickens doing?" Jessie asked.
"Same thing we are," I said.
It had crawled over to the fence. Can you see it? My hens seemed to have the same reaction I did- cautious fascination. Chickens are very leery of snakes but they'll eat a small one. I guess they were checking this one out to see if they thought it something that might be tasty or, on the other hand, dangerous. They settled on "dangerous" I guess, and moved away.
Mr. Moon showed up with a shovel and an axe. And the man was wearing a pair of shorts. No shoes. No shirt.
"Let me at least get your shoes," I said. I did not like this scenario. The rattler was right up against the fence and there was really no way Glen could get a good angle to get it with the shovel. And snakes, like all of us, do not wish to be killed and do not gracefully accede to death but will tangle and twist and strike as well they should.
"I'm going to get my gun," said my husband.
I was so torn at this point. The snake was posing no immediate threat to any of us and yet, there was no way any of us were going to capture it and bag it and transfer it somewhere else far from people. There are those who are fearless about such things and have the knowledge and skills and equipment to do it. We are not those people.
And besides that, the snake was rather beautiful.
But. It is the most dangerous venomous snake in North America.
In the end, the snake was shot. We all went inside but August went straight to a window that allowed him the perfect view of the killing.
"That's the first time I've ever seen Boppy kill anything," he said.
"That's the first time I've ever seen Boppy kill anything," I said.
After the head was virtually removed from the body we went back out to see how it still twisted its body, writhed and moved, even after death.
None of this was taken lightly or casually. Jessie said a little prayer for the beautiful snake. I told the boys that this was a good lesson to always watch where you are walking, even in town. You never know.
It was sort of amazing that I saw the snake at all. Their camouflage is perfect.
I suppose this was a a visit to Mer and Bop's that the boys won't soon forget. The whole time this was happening I was thinking of one of the strongest memories of my childhood. It was in Roseland which was rife with snakes and my Granny and I were walking between her and Granddaddy's house and our house and I saw a snake which Granny didn't see. She was profoundly deaf and so it was hard to get her to understand what I was trying to tell her but she did and we both froze. My grandfather came running and said, "Don't move." We were quite close to the snake which was, again, a rattler. He ran and got a hoe and he killed it and I'll never forget that. I've always felt that maybe I saved my grandmother's life because she was just about to step on it.
I am the least visual person you know so it is miraculous that I have now spotted two rattlers in my life, one right by my grandmother, one right by my grandson.
As Jessie was leaving after everything had calmed down, she said, "That was such a Florida thing. Man in shorts shoots rattlesnake."
I thought about that and said that yes, yes it certainly was.
"You're such a country woman," Jessie said to me and I had to agree. There I stood in my holey overalls, having just witnessed all of that and I was not overly upset in the least.
"I never aimed to end up like this," I said. "I guess it was growing up in Roseland."
And I guess it was.
I looked around me at the chickens going about their business, the beautiful garden busting wide open with summer vegetables, the magnificent magnolia tree above me, mosquitoes tormenting my arms, and I said, "And I'm glad I did."
There is more to this day. We actually went to town and attended a very, very fancy dance recital that Magnolia June was in. We sat in an auditorium surrounded by maskless people (we wore ours) with Lily and Lauren, Gibson and Owen, Jason and his mother and uncle and aunt and were in a completely different world. Of course Maggie was onstage for about 1.5 minutes but she was lovely and did so well and the rest of the dances were danced with full hearts and a lot of grace and we enjoyed it.
(Not Maggie but three other beautiful girls.)
I took my grandwomanbaby a bouquet of magnolias and hydrangeas, tied up in blue ribbon I got at the Bad Girls Get Saved By Jesus Thrift Store.
She had two other bouquets and allowed herself to be posed with her mama after it was all over.
Mr. Moon and I drove home and the auditorium where the recital had been was all the way west of Tallahassee and we are east of Tallahassee and we drove through parts of town where I haven't been in years and I was dumbstruck by the new construction, restaurants and tattoo parlors and nail salons, the way FSU has grown to the point that I do not even recognize it and I did not even begin to relax until we reached the stretch of road where pine trees and oak trees lined the highway and when we pulled into our driveway I felt overwhelmingly relieved and happy to back in my little world, even if there are mosquitoes and yellow flies and extremely poisonous snakes. These things make sense to me where things in town just absolutely do not.
Happy Friday, y'all.
Oh Mrs. Moon. What an adventure! I came w/in a foot of a rattler this past spring. It did not strike but it coiled! Since it was in my path guarding the way I had to go way way around through the woods to get past! She was small but fierce. I sometimes wonder why she stood her ground... they usually slide on off, don’t they? My grandma kept a shotgun for them. Bless!ReplyDelete
This one never did coil. Until it was shot. Then it coiled. Poor thing.Delete
Your grandma sounds like a bad ass. So does that little rattler you saw.
full doesn't even begin to describe your day today! snakes...ugh. We have rattlers here and tiz the season. Had one last week next to our walkway at dusk...... hubby nabbed and relocated it but if I were here alone, I would just *dispatch* one. I hate this time of year for that reason....always wary of where your hands and feet are and I'm not comfortable *handling* or dealing with them. your chick is gorgeous, as are Lily and Maggie! It's Martini Friday and well deserved! Sleep well!ReplyDelete
I'm not comfortable with handling snakes AT ALL! In any way, shape or form. But good for your husband. And it certainly is that time of year. We all need to be wary. Or at least those of us who live in these snakey places.Delete
This post is incredible so full of rich Florida magic. I’ll never forget my father killing a big rattlesnake with a rock when we were camping in the Nevada desert. He lifted it up with a heavy stick after and the snake writhed around that stick like a demon. Amazing.ReplyDelete
It is amazing. Like chickens with their head cut off.Delete
Thank you for saying that about the Florida magic. It felt that way, Rebecca.
Wow, you deserve to put your feet up after this day...Wishing you both a good night and congratulations to Miss Magnolia.ReplyDelete
Thank you! Yes, Maggie was pretty proud, I think. She did so well.Delete
She sure looks like her Mama! Close call with The Snake... we go on Scorpion Hunts with Black Lights at Night here.ReplyDelete
We have scorpions here too but they are not the kind that kill you. They just sting like hell.
Oh my. I get anxious in the snake house at the Bronx Zoo and would not have done well in your shoes. It sounds like quite a day in your house. Magnolia and Lily looked so very happy!ReplyDelete
Being around snakes and feeling anxious is probably the most normal thing in the world. We are not supposed to hang out with a lot of snakes. Or any snakes! Although some people do love them.Delete
I think Lily and Magnolia were both so very happy it was all over.
Ugh. Snakes. Never quite gotten over having a kid throw a six foot one (not a rattler) around my neck when I was about seven years old. Could barely look at even a photo of one for decades.ReplyDelete
From the ugh to the sublime with Ms. Magnolia's dancing. What a day!
Okay. That kid deserved to be smacked. And I don't approve of kid-smacking but that's terrible! I'm sure you were traumatized.Delete
Isn't it lovely to celebrate the grands as the stars they are? I love to go to William's things at school and see him scanning the audience until he finds us and the little secret smile as he goes back to tending to business. Magnolia's smile brought that all back to me. How I have missed that! Damn CovidReplyDelete
That little searching-out for loved ones in the audience is so universal, isn't it? Bless their little hearts. So brave to get onstage and do things.Delete
That would have been terrifying, although I'm sure the boys thought it was terribly exciting. One question, did the chickens eat the dead snake?ReplyDelete
I remember watching my middle daughter at dance recitals, seems like such a long time ago now. I'm getting old:)
The chickens did not eat the dead snake. I think Mr. Moon flung it way deep in the woods where they don't go.Delete
Being at grandchildren's performances will certainly bring back the memories of your own children.
I know we have rattlesnakes out here as my neighbors have seen them on occasion but I have not. rat snakes, copperheads, coral snakes, green ribbon snakes, little garden snakes, etc. but no rattlers in either of my yards. it was a beauty and sad that it had to be killed but you are right, rattlers under the house is not a good idea.ReplyDelete
We're just hoping we don't have a nest of them or something. Gawd.Delete
We have few venomous snakes here, though I've seen a rattler in the custody of a park ranger in the northwest of the state where we used to tent camp. He gave a program on them, complete with live examples. Other than that you're lucky even to see a garter snake. Yours was an adventure, yes.ReplyDelete
I've seen a few in the wild and they have them at what we call the Jr. Museum, too. But those are behind glass.Delete
For a beautiful, subtle, nuanced, and poignant meditation of the complexities of a chance human/snake encounter, read D. H. Lawrence's poem "Snake".ReplyDelete
Wow! If August or Levon grows up to write a memoir the day of the rattlesnake with most certainly be a part of it. The image I come away with most strongly in this post is of their Boppy, not hesitating for one second in the protection of his family. Somehow the shirtlessness and bare feet make that image even more poignant. And how beautiful Magnolia June is, little dancer.ReplyDelete
Yeah. I even explained to the boys that killing the snake was what Boppy felt he had to do to protect us all. I think they got it.Delete
Maggie- our little dancer. We're so proud of her.
Well, it's a shame the snake had to die, but it was the wisest decision. Not only was it a threat to you, but it surely was a threat to your chickens. (That's probably why it was there in the first place!) We used to kill water moccasins now and then when I was growing up on the lake in Pasco County. I never see snakes in England. They're around, but few and far between.ReplyDelete
They could be attracted to chickens or to the mice and rats that I know live around here. Even squirrels and baby birds.Delete
Water moccasins REALLY freak me out. I've heard "experts" say they don't attack but I swear they do.
My Mom had a terrible fear of snakes and so her 4 children have never liked being around snakes. I would not be able to live in Florida I am realizing, altho, you do make it sound beautiful some of the time! Glad you spotted the snake and Boppy was able to save everyone.ReplyDelete
It is good that you love your home!
Florida is definitely not for everyone. Especially where we live, out in the boonies. But I swear- I do love it here, even though sometimes I curse it.Delete
Whoa! I would have been terrified. When my son was little, he chased after a snake hanging in a branch next to the water. I grabbed him by the seat of his pants just in time, it was a water moccasin. Too much nature sometimes. I’m sure the boys will never forget this day. Maggie looks like a proper diva and prima ballerina.ReplyDelete
That gives me the shivers. Water moccasins are scary as hell. Maggie is very much a diva, dancing or not!Delete
snake is my spirit animal (one of them) I am sad that it was in the wrong place at the wrong time. it was a beautiful snake.ReplyDelete
Me too, Linda Sue. So much, me too.Delete
My experience with a rattler was way out west, waiting for a flat to be changed on the camper and sitting on a mountain guardrail in Colorado with the Mom's grands. The three boys were over the rail and in the brush when I saw the snake and summoned some "not your parent voice but listen to me or else" voice and told the boys to come slowly back to the guard rail. And we watched the snake move off. The boys said they counted 13 rattles. At least that was their story.ReplyDelete
we have massasagua rattlers here. i've seen one ONCE and didn't know what it was until after the fact. S C A R Y. glad you and yours are safe and i hope your cat is ok.ReplyDelete