Yard work can be defined in many ways: mowing the lawn, trimming the shrubs, planting a flower garden, weeding the flower garden, gathering snakes. ... Wait! What? Gathering snakes? What in the world are you talking about, Brad? No one gathers snakes, at least not on purpose. Well maybe ever once in a while if it is of the poisonous variety you might hunt it down to dispose of it for the safety of your pets and grandchildren in the yard.
My wife, Kay, is an avid gardener and yard person in the truest sense of the word. She has bird feeders hanging all over our yard. I have to be careful mowing the grass or I’ll end up with lumps all over my head from the feeders. Animals of every description sense in her a warm, caring, animal friendly person. Dogs that bark at me walk up to her with heads down and turned ever so slightly to her, knowing she is going to pet them or scratch their ears or whatever. My youngest daughter, Courtnee, calls her the animal whisperer because they sense her gentleness.
But then there are the snakes. Not just one or two here or there. It is as if these slithering reptiles also have a sense about my wife’s gentleness with animals. I don’t know. I can be in the yard all day long, all week and never see a snake. Kay goes out and almost every day sees one, or has one come slithering up next to where she is sitting or even working in her flower beds.
Just this morning, (Monday) she was out under our shed in the back yard, where we had just had the ground covered with pea gravel a few weeks back, sitting in our bench swing. She goes there in the early morning, weather permitting to do her personal devotion time. This morning she had just finished and looked down, and about a foot or so away from her feet was a snake about 2 feet long, slithering its way across the gravel toward her.
As always she got out her trusty phone and snapped a picture of it. She always shows me the picture so I can tell her if it was a poisonous snake or not. So she comes in and starts laughing and pulls out her phone and shows me the picture of yet another Eastern garter snake. I have lost count as to how many of these she has encountered in the yard. Black snakes or rat snakes are another common one she seems to attract. Only once has she had an encounter with a poisonous snake, a cotton mouth, which I was able to dispatch hastily with my trusty machete.
Once she was sitting in our front porch swing and called me to come outside. On my arrival was a rat snake about 5.5 feet long stretched out with its tail up over the top of our window, his body down beside it and his head extended about 2 inches off of the brick window ledge. In other words, his head was less than a foot away from where she was sitting. Strange thing, before she called me for help, she first took a couple of pictures of it and was still sitting calmly in the swing when I came out the front door. She has to be a snake whisperer for sure.
On another note about yard work, I would like to caution my readers of an additional item of yard work that can be deadly. No it’s not another story about snakes, but rather about cutting the grass. Many people don’t realize this, but cutting your lawn and allowing your mower to send the cut grass into the road can be a very dangerous thing for motorcyclists. Some people will blow the grass clippings with their yard blower off of their sidewalks or drive ways out into the street has well.
Bikers in general know this, but a few may not, but surely most home owners or professional yard workers are less aware of this danger. You see, grass clippings in the roadway are just as dangerous to a biker as black ice is to a car. It makes the road as slick as ice. Not long ago a biker lady up in Illinois where I lived and worked for a few years with World Relief was killed when her bike hit cut grass in the road and she slid and died as a result. It is a very real danger. I learned the hard way when I was a teenager riding a bike and hit some grass in the road. Luckily I wasn’t going very fast but I still fell and was scraped up quite a bit.
I would encourage you not to allow your grass clippings to go into the road, you may just possibly save a biker’s life. I saw not too long ago here in Georgetown where the road crews were cutting the grass beside US 17 at the foot of Maryville bridge and the grass clippings were all over the road. I would ask Mayor Brendon Barber Sr. and the City Council as well as the County Council to take a proactive stance and ask their road crews to be aware of this deadly issue and not allow the grass clippings to go into the road way, and if it does to blow it back to the roadside. I thank them ahead of time for this preemptive action.
Now as to the issue of all these snakes in the yard, I can truthfully say I have not seen any rats or mice in the yard or the house for that matter. So there definitely is something good going on. Luke 10:19, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
I accept that, but evidently my wife doesn’t worry about those critters at all. Y’all be safe this summer in your yard, you hear?
Brad Morris, a retired minister, originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has been in ministry for 50 years and a columnist for 17 years, 12 of which have been for the Times.