Early one Spring morning I was in the kitchen getting a cup of coffee when I heard a thump and a grunt from Anni’s bedroom. Pretty soon she stepped up into the great room, and came stomping past me, muttering to herself as she unlatched the front Dutch door, threw open the screen door and headed outside.
I stood at the door, puzzled, and watched her tromp up the driveway, past the barn and out to the front gate. She unlatched the gate, threw it open and walked across the road. I think I saw her toss something into the woods, then she came back through the gate, trailed by Hansel and Gretel, who were apparently as puzzled as I was.
“Want some coffee?” I asked as she came back inside the cabin.
“Yeah, I could use some, after that!” she exclaimed.
“What was that all about?” I asked. Turns out Anni was sitting on the toilet and when she reached behind her to grab the toilet paper from the roll, she spotted a rat snake on the windowsill just above the paper roller.
“Man, what was that snake doing there?” I asked.
“Working on its tan,” she replied dryly, with a shrug.
“Oh my god, what did you do?”
“Well, I pulled up my pants!”
Very funny. Actually, she did pull up her pants then calmly grabbed the snake, which quickly wrapped all 14 inches or so of itself around her arm.
“Then I took it out there and tossed it across the road!” she ended, with a note of finality.
Too weird. We laughed about such a rude awakening before one has had their first coffee, and moved on out to the porch to enjoy some peace and early morning quiet.
A few minutes later we heard a “Hullo” from the front and the gate being closed. Here came neighbor Carl, strolling down the drive and up to the Dutch door. He peered through the top part of the open door and said “Hey, can a guy get a cup of coffee?”
As Carl settled on a barstool with his coffee, Anni told him the tale of the snake.
“Hmmm,” he said, with a gleam in his eye. “Was it a rat snake, about this long?”
Anni blinked. “Yeahhhhh,” she said, waiting for the rest. There was always more, with Carl.
“Well I just saw that snake moving toward the house as I was coming down the drive. Looks like it’s headed back to that sunny spot!” Carl laughed, clearly delighted at Anni’s pained expression.
“Yeah well, we’ll see about that!” Anni said as she got up. We stood at the Dutch door and watched her walk up the driveway, scanning the ground. Soon, she stooped down, snatched at something and, muttering, she started walking around the side of the house, heading toward the back yard and the lake.
Carl and I laughed as we walked onto the porch and watched Anni trudging steadily down the lawn, onto the landing, out on the dock and down its full length to the T at the end.
Pretty soon Anni came back up the lawn and onto the screen porch, banging the screen door with finality.
“Well, that’s the end of that snake,” she stated.
Carl asked “Did you toss it off the end of the dock?”
“Yep. And it swam right back to the ladder, so I went down the ladder, grabbed it, and tossed it out there again!”
“No kidding!” We were amazed the snake was that determined.
“Yeah but the best part is,” Anni went on, and this time the gleam was in her eye, “No sooner had that snake hit the water than “wham”, an eagle swooped down out of nowhere and snatched that thing right up!”
“You’re kidding!” “No way!” We sat, stunned.
“Yep, I figure that eagle saw that snake the first time I tossed it and was watching and waiting,” Anni nodded. “It was sure ready when that snake hit the water the second time.”
Of course the story grew through its many retellings, but it always ended with Anni’s quip “The only thing is, I don’t think you can count on disposing of a snake quite the same way again!”
I was hoping that snake would swim off down the shore…not straight back to the dock!
I just wanted him, to move someplace else!