Yesterday morning we all got up late. I was the last person to stumble into the bathroom. As I wandered around it in my birthday suit trying to wake up my brain, I noticed a yellow towel folded on the counter beside the sink. I had placed it there the night before so some toys I washed could air-dry. I had put away the toys before going to bed, but one of the girls' toys was laying on it. Good, they must have washed one of their toys themselves for a change. Which one? Ah, the toy snake their grandfather gave them. Haven't seen them playing with that for a while.
I sat down. I looked around. I looked at the toy. I admired the workmanship. It was well made.
The girls' toy snake was green.
This one was black.
And had a diamond pattern on the back.
I got to my feet and backed out of the room.
Rattler or cottonmouth?
They're first cousins, whatthehell does it matter when one of them is on your freakin' bathroom counter! "Only aggressive when cornered" or "always aggressive" is immaterial when it's effectively already in a corner.
I called to my husband, "Come here now."
"Come here now!"
He walked in, also in his birthday suit, looked, and said, "Cottonmouth." That's cleared up. It's the "always aggressive" one. "Where are the girls?"
"Outside in the playhouse."
"Keep them out, keep the dogs out, watch that."
Clothed and shod, he stepped out to the workshop and came back with leather gloves, a one-inch wood dowel, and the long-handled tin snips. Sunshine came up and tried to walk into the house. I told her to go back to the playhouse until Mommy and Daddy said she could come in, don't fuss, it's important. She protests, I repeat myself. She turns around and screams only once, which is incredible self-control for our five year-old Scream Queen.
Unfortunately the snake heard her and -- disappeared.
We search the floor. No sign of the snake.
We start carefully pulling stuff off the counter. It was coiled up under some ointment bottles, ready to attack the first thing that moved.
It got the end of the dowel on its back behind the head. As it tried to strike at the dowel, the long-handled tin snips took off its head.
My husband carried it out the front door by the tin snips. He crushed and buried the head, then asked me to call in the girls.
"Come in and see this."
Brighteyes asked, "Why?"
"It's a lesson."
"Lessons on Saturday? Before breakfast? That's not fair!"
We showed the girls the snake. Even headless, it still looked more impressive than the ones at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science had looked two weeks ago, probably because it was on their front steps.
My husband had been in the bathroom shaving only minutes before me and hadn't see it, so it must have just come in. At a little over a foot long, it was a juvenile looking to mark out its own territory. No other snakes around then. We search the house anyway. We found the entrance point, a tree branch touching the bathroom window where there was a gap in the frame. We lop off the branch and seal the gap.
We tried to recover enough to get the rest of the day's work done. Somehow that wasn't as easy as it sounds.