More Snake Stories
Posted May 8, 2009
The copperhead death count in my Cary cul-de-sac has climbed to three this week. Another one of the ornery critters was discovered while I was away at work. I hope that’s the end of the population in our little part of the town.
Many years ago when I was courting my wife-to-be Cindy an interesting snake story unfolded in her house off Trinity Road in Raleigh. Cindy’s brother, Matt, took a snake into his room and put it into an old aquarium. He put a magazine on top of the aquarium but that was not adequate security. The snake escaped and Cindy’s mom, Marjorie, went into “hysterics” as she described it. Later, Cindy’s sister, Missy, was asleep on a sofa in the living room when the snake crawled up the wall. Missy’s dad was there at the time. Grover taught zoology at NC State. With Missy and her mom both screaming “Kill it! Kill it,” Grover calmly put a broom against the wall. The snake wound itself around the broom and Grover carried it out into the woods. Then came the lecture from the college professor: “There’s no need to kill the creature. It’s just a harmless black snake.”
Earlier this week, I promised a copy of my Blue Ridge Reunion book to the author of the best snake story. We will declare a winner next week. If you would like to add a story to the blog please do.
Several people have emailed me tales of snake encounters. I thought I would share those with you. The first one comes from Alan Rich who describes himself as a “real life rocket scientist:
“Apparently in NC we have two different kinds of large, beautiful black snakes: the Black Racer and the Black Rat. One of them is docile and shortly after you grab them and pick them up, they calm down and enjoy your body heat. The other is a foul-tempered evil serpent that loves to bite. I can't tell the two apart. This is the basis for my story:
Leaving my house to pick up a teenage girl babysitter one night, I saw a black snake on the road in front of my house. Big one. Five footer. I didn't want him to get run over by a car, so I stopped, got out, went over to him, and seeing that he didn't seem aggressive, I picked him up and took him to my wooded back yard. A while later, returning with aforementioned teenage girl babysitter in my passenger seat, I saw a black snake in the road again in front of my house. I stopped the car, looked at the girl, and said "Excuse me for a sec...
I know that snake." I got out of the car, incorrectly thinking this was the same snake, and without any sort of caution whatsoever bent
down to pick it up, saying to it out loud in baby-talk "Silly snake.
I thought I told you not to play in the road." Well it was a different snake. The OTHER, not-so-friendly version. It struck at me repeatedly, bringing blood from my arms. I could hear the babysitter screaming in my car as she watched in horror.
I ran back to the car exclaiming to the terrified girl something to the effect of "That's not my friend snake...I don't know who that snake is... it tried to kill me. My friend snake must still be in the back yard."
My wife and I didn't get to go out that night. We had to find another sitter.”
Gerald Hodges sent me the following story about snakes:
“I'll preface my story by saying I was born and raised in Boone, where black snakes are abundant and big! As a young boy I had a mutt dog that used to collect black snakes. He wouldn't kill them, but would instead would drag them in by the tail and show-off his catch to the family. My dad was not amused, as he was very afraid of snakes. In fact he was so afraid he would change the channel rather than watch a TV program that included snakes. (The unconfirmed family story was that he stumbled into a nest of baby black snakes as a child and was traumatized for life by the experience.)
A couple of years ago my dad came down from Boone visiting us at our home in Roxboro. It was in the fall, and because we could not get the Appalachian football game on the TV or radio, my dad was listening to the game in my office on the computer. My office is an add-on room at our house, and on this pleasant fall Saturday evening we had had the doors and windows open. He sat at my desk for two hours listening to the game, and then retired to bed.
A few minutes later I went to my desk to do some final preparation for the next day (I Pastor a church here and needed to do do some computer work.) After a short time I finished, and before leaving the office I reached around by desktop monitor to get a book. It was then I noticed that some practical joker had wrapped a large plastic snake around my computer CPU. Imagine my surprise when I reached for it and quickly came to the realization the snake was not plastic, but very real, very alive, and very comfortable there on my warm cozy desk. We had closed the doors and windows earlier in the day, so I have no idea how long the snake had been there, but I know it was there while my dad sat at that desk and listened to the game. I also know that if dad had discovered the snake it would NOT have been a good! Seriously, I suspect he would have had a heart attack!
My wife and I don't kill blacksnakes, as they make good neighbors for gardeners like us, so instead I called my wife to the office to show her our house guest. We agreed to a plan of action to show our snake friend to the door. I was going to pick it up and take it to the woods. With a gloved hand I reached for our four foot long black friend, and he proceeded to slide off the back of the desk and headed straight for the door to our kitchen! Fortunately my wife was quick closing the door, and our friend took the alternate route out the back door.
I always look now before I reach around for things on my desk. To this day I still have not told my dad of the episode, as I'm sure he would not visit us again. To him EVERY snake is deadly, and we are borderline crazy for not killing any and all that we see. We have a black snake in our backyard we have named Sam. He made his first appearance of the year this morning as my wife was working in the yard. As long as he stays outside we are glad to have him as a neighbor.”
Here’s another snake story from a good friend, Randy Cotton:
“I’ve lived in Dutchman Downs for 24 years and Copperheads are as common as water. I see at least three in my yard each season. So many that I keep a hoe outside beside my garage all season long. I’ve come close to stepping on them numerous times even though I am extremely careful. They seem to love our hardwood forests. And, I do everything I can to keep the area clean, but to no avail. I always take a flashlight with me to go out for the morning paper and to take out the dog after dark. I see them everywhere even in bright daylight. I see them driving in the neighborhood and go out of my way to stop them. But, I don’t recall ever seeing one on the streets in Lochmere. Over the years, some of our transplant neighbors have laughed me off when I tell them how common they are in this area. It really concerns me to see small children playing outside after dark.”
And finally, one more snake tale from Carolina Conversations reader Leland Strother who works as a land surveyor:
“I was the crew chief of a three man survey crew. We had worked our way deep into the woods and the work day was rapidly coming to an end. I sent one of the crew members, Mike, back to get our truck and drive around to the point we were to exit the woods to prevent us from back tracking with our equipment. I assumed this would take Mike about 30 minutes to walk back to the truck, drive around and navigate his way back to us. I was expecting to meet Mike as we continued surveying towards our intended property corner. Near the expected time of his return I heard someone coming behind us, the same direction that Mike had departed. Looking down the property line we had cut open, I saw Mike approaching us - soaking wet from waste down. Knowing we had easily jumped across a couple 4' streams during the survey I found it strange Mike was soaking wet and proceeded to inquire about his condition. Mike responded (writers note: you must read this slowly in a southern Forrest Gump style dialect also note the one long continuous sentence) " I got down to the creek and started to jump across the creek, I saw a water moccosin on the other side of the creek so I moved down the creek - got me a running start and jumped - when I got halfway across the creek I saw another moccosin on the other side of the creek where I was going to land - so I just stopped". To this day I vision Mike stopping mid-air like a cartoon character and dropping straight down into the creek then scrambling to get out. The snake was probably no more that 2 feet from him as he landed.”
Thanks for the memories! By the way, I have learned that when I dream about snakes I am probably going to have a pretty bad day. At least I can get ready for it. What about you?