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Possumhaw: Everybody's got a snake story




"God told the serpent ... I'm declaring war between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers." 


-- Genesis 3:14-15 ("The Message") 




My neighbor, Allene, lives over on the creek. "Have you seen more snakes this year than usual?" she asked. 


I was a little surprised because, yes, I had seen more snakes lately than I'd seen in all my years. I was hoping it was a fluke, but maybe not. Allene had seen moccasins and rattlesnakes, even a rattlesnake swimming across the creek. Sam had seen a rattlesnake swimming in the river a couple of times, but as they are not really swimmers, they blow up like a balloon and sort of propel themselves across. Once he tried to beat one to death with a boat paddle as they are pretty defenseless in the water. 


The first snake of the year was the one Harry, the cat, was flipping around in the front yard. I distracted Harry by wandering toward the greenhouse and the snake vanished. I took a photograph before the snake left, hoping to identify it. Sam asked if we had a reptile book and I said no, I can't think of anything that would give me nightmares more than perusing a snake book. We have plant, flower, butterfly and bird books. 


As usual, we googled "Mississippi snakes" and tried to identify the blackish snake. The black racer seemed to be the closest look-alike, but I don't know. The site said a black racer can travel a mile in four to five minutes. I know Harry's snake was gone in a flash. After that, we would see two more just like it, only progressively smaller. Sam thought they might be some kind of water snake. He hooked one on the hoe and tried to swing it out and into the lake, but the fellow kept winding itself back on the hoe. I thought it was creepy and walked away. He finally got it loose and into the lake.  


The next snake was shortly after Sam got home from fishing. He washed out the fish cooler and left it by the water pump where he usually does. After a while, he noticed Harry, the reptile lover, in a stalking stance easing toward the cooler. Sam notices things like that, so he walked over and lifted the cooler to find a big fat gray snake lying underneath. Sam carried the fellow off on the hoe and came back to the cooler.  


He said, "Do you how many times I've come out here in the dark at four o'clock in the morning and snatched that cooler up to go fishing?" 


After the snake, Sam's keeping the cooler inside the garage, next to the fish freezer.  


The next snake sighting, Sam identified as the speckled king snake -- a "good" snake. One source said they may try to bite you, but after they calm down they can be easily handled. I'm not sure who would need the most calming down. Snake-handlers we are not now, and never will be.  


Sources say there are between 40 and 55 snakes common to Mississippi and they can be found anywhere, so watch your step.



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