The uninvited lunch guessst

My wife Chris and I enjoy eating our lunch in our screened-in back porch. The ceiling fan always produces a nice breeze, and it is so relaxing to listen to the birds along the river.

After lunch, it is almost mandatory to spend a few minutes in the rocker glider and enjoy the peace and quiet.

We had just sat down in the glider when I noticed something unusual about the two wooden barrel halves that we have stacked on top of one another. Stacked together, they look almost like the original barrel, but something was strange-looking about the bung. Looking closer, I determined I was seeing the back end of a large snake hanging out of the barrel.

I casually mentioned to my wife, “We have a lunch guest today,” and I pointed to the barrel bung. Once her eyes adjusted and she realized what she was seeing, she quickly moved to the glider seat farthest away from our guest and let out a colorful metaphor describing our visitor.

Laughing, I said, “That’s no way to talk about a guest! It might just be the answer to all the marauding chipmunks we have devastating your plants.”

Yes, Chip and Dale, there’s a new sheriff in town. Better watch your step!

Our two daughters and my wife are tolerant of snakes as a whole. Their education and loss of fear of snakes started years ago when we lived in the country in a big, rambling old farmhouse.

One summer afternoon, we were out in our garden hoeing weeds and tending to the plants when we observed a strange sight. Gliding across the yard only a few feet away from the garden were two black snakes. One snake was a lot bigger than the other.

The initial response from the girls was to squeal and flee. My wife didn’t squeal, but she did step back several paces.

Stepping from the garden with a hoe in hand, I walked up to the larger black snake, gently pinned its head to the ground with the hoe, grabbed it behind the head, and carefully picked it up.

As I expected, the snake quickly wrapped itself tightly around my arm.

Motioning to the rest of the family, I said, “Come on over and see the snake. I want you to touch it and not be afraid of it.”

With what could be described as great reluctance, my daughters and wife slowly approached, wide-eyed and ready to run at the drop of a hat … or the drop of a snake!

I told our eldest daughter Kristi to touch the snake.

She replied, “No, they are all slimy and nasty.”

With some encouragement, she finally reached out her hand and stroked the snake. She was surprised to find the snake’s scales were smooth and not “icky.”

Next up was Jacci, who said the snake felt slick and neat.

With a little hesitation, my wife joined the snake-handling crew and felt the smooth scales.

The girls said we needed to name the snake and came up with George.

I said, “What about a name for the smaller snake?”

Without hesitation, the smaller snake was christened “Georgette.”

Unwinding George from my arm, I told the girls and Chris to stand back and watch.

As soon as the snake was on the ground, it headed directly for the big maple tree. Assuming the snake would climb the tree by going around and around, even I was impressed when it went straight up the side.

Years later, the old maple tree split, and half of it hit the ground. In it was a huge hollow with hundreds of old, leathery snake eggs, which had hatched in years past. Looks like George and Georgette took up housekeeping years ago in the old maple tree.