I have decided to open a wildlife refuge in my home. Maybe even charge admission, and make it a tourist attraction. After all, the critters seem to have adopted my house as their own. Perhaps it’s the heat or the drought bringing them to my doorstep. But honestly, if I’m going to provide the shelter, why shouldn’t I profit a little?
First, there was the mouse in my washing machine. Then there was the cat who found my garage quite comfortable, and decided to camp out there for several nights. While we’re more dog people than cat people, I do prefer cats to mice. So he didn’t bother me too much until he started inviting his friends. I do try to exhibit Southern hospitality when I can, but I’m not willing to host a feline block party. No, I’m not.
Then, as if the cat and mouse thing wasn’t enough to deal with, we had another visitor last week. And this time, he made it all the way to my hallway.
My daughter’s friend was spending the night, and they’d stayed up late watching a movie. Well, she stayed up late, along with my nine-year old son, while my darling daughter fell fast asleep on the sofa.
When the movie ended, this sweet friend decided to go to bed. On the way, she spotted one of my son’s toys — a rubber snake — coiled up next to the baseboard. Then the snake moved.
“Uhm, Mrs. Brumbaugh?”
“There’s a snake in your hallway.”
At this time, my son, who bears a strong family resemblance to Tigger, began bouncing around the room. “A snake? Where? Let me see! I wanna see a snake! Oh, wow! It’s a snake, Mom! Come look!”
During all this, my daughter remained fast asleep.
I breathed deeply, gathered all my courage, and crept to the hallway. If there’s one thing I despise more than mice, it’s s-s-snakes. My first thought was to scoop everyone up, put them in the car, and drive to my parents’ home just ten miles from here. But then the snake would have free reign of my house, and no telling where he’d end up.
Of course, these things only happen when my dear husband is out of town. If anyone is hiring within a fifty-mile radius of here, please contact me. I desperately need my husband to travel less.
Back to the snake. Sure enough, there was a beige-and-black, diamond-patterned serpent coiled up against the baseboard. Now, thank God for little blessings, like my own ignorance. All I could think was, “Red-and-yellow-kills-a-fellow.” No red. No yellow. Surely, he wasn’t poisonous.
I forgot, at that moment, that diamond-back rattlers are black and beige. And that they are common to this area.
Now, if it had just been me in the house, I’d have been on the roof. But there’s this sort of mother-super-power that shows up when one’s children are in danger. I stood tall, journeyed back to the kitchen, and grabbed a big bowl. Solid yellow.
Then, thinking again, I put it back and found a clear bowl. If I was going to capture that critter, I wanted to be able to see what he was doing.
With a fortitude that is totally uncharacteristic of this Texas girly-girl, I journeyed back to the hallway and poised the bowl. Our young guest must have sensed how nervous I was. “Do you want me to get it, Mrs. B? I don’t mind.”
Everything in me wanted to scream, “Yes! Please, dear, would you?” But then, I could just see explaining the emergency-room-visit to her mother. “Well, you see, your daughter was just trying to rescue me from the snake in our hallway.”
“No, sweetheart. I’m fine,” I lied.
I breathed once. Twice. Finally, on three, I swooped the bowl down on the snake, clamping the edges so he couldn’t get loose. Oh, dear Lord, his tail is sticking out! I clamped even harder. Now, during this whole exchange, the snake had barely moved. But now I’d made him mad. Time and again, he struck at my hand through that bowl. I wanted to scream. I wanted to melt into a pile of jello. But since I was the only adult in the household, I somehow (Thank you God!) maintained my composure.
“Bring me something heavy to put on top of this bowl,” I told the kids. First, my son brought an ax. Yes, a big ol’ heavy ax. Where did he get that? Did I even know we owned an ax? “Wrong shape, son.”
Next, he brought the big, thick family Bible that rests on a stand in our entryway. Yes, that was altogether more appropriate. Images of the serpent being crushed by the Word of God fluttered through my mind.
Unfortunately, I was too afraid to lift my hand from the bowl. “Put the Bible back and bring me the phone.”
I filed through my mental index of who I could call at nearly midnight to rescue me from a snake. I didn’t want to wake my parents. I called my brother. He owed me one, since he had the nerve to not be home when I called him about the mouse.
My sister-in-law answered. “Hello?”
“There’s a snake in my hallway. I’ve captured it, and now I don’t know what to do with it.”
Now why didn’t I think of that? I hung up, called the police, and within ten minutes a brave officer scooped the snake into a brown paper bag and carried him out my front door. I never knew if it was a rattlesnake or it’s non-poisonous twin, a bull snake. I’m telling myself it was the bull snake.
And during all of this, my daughter slept like a baby on our living room sofa. In spite of the fact that her brother woke her several times to tell her about the snake, the ax, the police officer . . . each time she brushed him off and said, “I don’t care. Leave me alone. I’m sleeping.”
Truly, when difficult things come our way, shouldn’t we react more like my daughter? After all, she knew as long as Mom was there, she didn’t have anything to worry about. Shouldn’t I remember that my Father is always near, and He promised to take care of me? Shouldn’t I carry the calm assurance that I can rest easy, knowing He has everything under control?
Yes, I should. But honestly, I wish He’d keep His little critters under control at some place other than my house.
“So the Lord God spoke to the serpent. . . I will put hatred between you and the woman. Your children and her children will be enemies. Her son will crush your head. And you will crush his heel,” Genesis 3:14 – 15.