Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Close Encounter of the Worst Kind

Our five-year-old granddaughter Avery has been staying with us for several days, and a couple of days ago, with the temperatures in the 90s and the Mississippi heat index hitting 108, Avery's thoughts turned to her little plastic swimming pool that she's used at our house for the past couple of summers. After listening for several hours to her pleading (as only a five-year-old can plead), to pleeeeeease get her pool out, she and I went to the attic (which probably had a heat index of 208!)and, after searching for a few minutes, finally found the pool. That was the easy part.

Next, we had to find the electric air pump and then sat for about 30 minutes in the 108-degree-heat-index-afternoon "blowing up the pool" -- all three rings! I did find some shade, though, and sat on the step at our front doors, as shown in the picture below.

I know you're probably wondering, "Why is she showing us a picture of her front doors?" Well, there is a reason. Read on ...

After we finished blowing up the pool, I placed it about 12 feet from the front doors and filled it with the hose. The cold water didn't phase Avery, and while she was happily splashing and playing, I was happily taking about 200 pictures of her, and thinking it was worth enduring the heat and discomfort while blowing the pool up just to see her sweet little face beaming with delight in her "swimming pool."

After a while, I decided to look at the pictures on my camera and went over to our porch to sit in the shade. In a couple of minutes, I heard a "plopping" sound over by the front doors, and looked at Avery and said, "What was that??" She turned around and looked toward the front doors and matter-of-factly said, "It's a snake." I sprang from my chair and, sure enough, it was a snake, a brown one, about 2-1/2 feet long and 1-1/2" around, which had dropped out of the vine and was swiftly slithering into the flowerbed and out of sight.

This picture shows how close the snake was to Avery's pool (she was in the pool when it dropped, thank goodness!) ...

I got Avery out of the pool and told her to go over by the porch and stay there. I then tried to see if the snake was still in the flowerbed, but it was nowhere to be seen. I don't know what I would have done if it had still been there, but I felt compelled to at least try to keep track of it.

About that time, my husband came home and, after hearing what happened, got a kaiser blade and tried to find the snake in the pine straw in the flowerbeds along the path leading from the front of the house to the backyard. By then, the snake was probably long gone.

Of course, I was upset while all of this was going on, but I was even more upset afterward, when I thought about the snake being in the Confederate Jasmine vine around our front doors all that time Avery and I were sitting there blowing up the pool. Avery was constantly up and down, and it could have dropped on us just as easily as it dropped to the ground. Not to mention, I had to go through a flowerbed right beside the doors to get the hose, and went back and forth several times adjusting the water.

Thankfully, Avery didn't seem to be upset by it, but I think it will be a long time before I'm really comfortable working in my flowerbeds again, or even just walking around our yard.

There are some woods behind our house, and we have a waterfall and pond which has frogs in it, so I guess the snakes are attracted to our yard because of the frogs. This was the third encounter we've had with a snake this year (the first time for me), and I contacted the animal control department in Vicksburg to see if there's anything we can do. They are supposed to come "check it out," so we shall see. In the meantime, every time I think about what happened, I thank the good Lord for watching over Avery and me and keeping that snake up in that vine while we were sitting under it ... and I can't help but question the wisdom of having that vine around the front doors ... even if it is one of my favorite landscape features.

Oh, in all the excitement, I almost forgot ... my pictures! No, I'm not going to share all 200 of them, but here are a few of my favorites. These were taken before our encounter with the snake.

I can see a glimpse of her little "babyish" self in this one ...

I hope you will remember this story this summer when you are working or playing in your yard, especially with little ones. Although we weren't really in any danger at the time, it could have been so much worse ... and, if any good came out of it, I will certainly be more vigilant and cautious from now on when I'm outside.


Carolyn said...

We have lived on the lake for 30 years so I am constantly on the look out for snakes. Thankfully, I rarely see them.
Your granddaugter is beautiful and your pictures captured the fun she was having in the pool.

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Your little Avery is a doll. I always worry about snakes in vines. I won't sit under the grape arbor in the back yard because I am always afraid there might be a snake in them. Birds nest in the vines and snakes love bird eggs & birds.
Our neighbor down the road walked out on his back porch to see what his dogs where barking at and was bite 3 times by a cotton mouth. It seems it had crawled on the porch and the dogs had it cornered and it was fighting mad, bite 2 of the dogs too. Seems for some reason they are going to houses and high areas more this year. Maybe they are hunting dry places to den.
Be safe and look good before touching anything.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh Janie! I was about to go out into the yard to weed-not so sure now!!! I had chills the entire time I was reading this!!!!Do you know if it was a "bad" snake? (they all creep me out though) The thought of it being in that beautiful vine.....oh my! Seeing your last pic of adorable Avery is making me shiver too as she waters the flowers! You must have been sooo uneasy the entire time you were out there. Although in this heat I'm wondering did you ever get into the pool too!!!lol Here's more for you to think about: Our old house - a snake had crawled up the hose and decided to "hang" out up under the siding above the spicket!!!! Never thought they could/would do that! I'm not an upclose nature girl!!!lol Take care dear - Sincerely, Jeannette

Marlene said... went from "breathtaking" to heart-stopping with your snake experience. I have lived through several of these encounters of THE VERY WORST kind. Snake at front door mat, on the front arbor, and in the pergola in the wisteria. I
share your reluctance to even step out in the yard, but I do love my garden. Loved the pics of Avery as

Deb said...

oh my gosh what a close happy everything was okay and it didn't effect Avery....last year I was cleaning out a flower beg by my front porch and found a 4 ft snake skin...made me act differently when cleaning out flowerbeds...

Kathy :) said...

Oh Janie just reading your story gave me the willies...what is it about them YUCK !!!

Avery is just adorable...108 bless yor heart....that's HOT !!!

Do you ever visit Kat over at Just a Beachkat...she had quite a snake story !!!

All the best,
Kathy :)

Sheila (TCW) said...

My goodness! I was thinking while reading this how the Lord had protected you two, like you said. I've only seen a couple of snakes in our yard, but I'm ALWAYS on the lookout for them.

Avery looks like she was really enjoying the pool and the cool water. I'm glad you two got to at least have some happy-go-lucky fun before the snake appeared.

PAT said...

Wow!! I haven't seen a snake in awhile. We used to see them all the time when my girls were growing up.

There are some down by the water, at the lake. J has seen them, I haven't.

Avery is beautiful and I love your photographs. They simply say summer fun!

9405018--Pat said...

Wow Avery is a doll...But the snake OMG I don't think i could work in the yard for a while....Pat H

Merisi said...

What frightening incident on a beautiful day! So glad you and your granddaughter were out of harm's way when the snakes dropped down.

Our house in the USA back onto a wooded area with a creek. I once found a large snake, at least three yards long, in our garage. I chased it out by throwing pieces of wood after the poor thing. Later did I learn that it was a harmless water snake.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I hate snakes, too, Janie, and I had one in the garage! My neighbor scolded me because it was a harmless corn snake but still! And Mr. Magpie was working in the flower bed (cutting out dead sections of the banana trees), and there was a corn snake in there. One interesting thing I just found out is that snakes are basically afraid of humans and will flee. I had some other snake (a black runner, also harmless) sunbathing in our topiaried podicarpus. (sp) He was on the top of it sunning himself. He hasn't been around lately, so I think maybe he met his demise. He also sunned himself on the steps to our back porch, and when my dog was alive, she came within a hair's breath of going toward him, when I screamed and he flew off. They race like the wind! They are harmless, but still!

The pics of Avery are SO cute! I'm sorry your idyllic afternoon was spoiled by a snake. When I was little we had a yard man I used to call Uncle Leaf (his name was Uncle Lee), and after working he would take a nap under one of the shade trees in the yard. He was quite old. Well, one time I saw a snake slithering toward him from the tree and woke him up so the snake wouldn't get him. He told everyone I had saved his life, but I'm sure it was probably something harmless, too. However, now that I look back on it and am older, I probably did save his life because he might have been so scared to death if it had jumped on him!

I wouldn't cut down the vine because of a snake, Janie, but I do understand. Truly I do.



Tonja said...

Kids just love water, don't they? And, how fascinating it can be to them!

Until a snake comes along and switches the focus! How scared you all must have been! Be careful. I don't think I would be sitting under that vine anymore!