Readers, join me as I commemorate my third summer of survival here in the city by the bog. The learning curve has sometimes been steep but we non-New Englanders have made it through snakes, squirrels, chipmunks eating our cars, foxes crapping on our front step, 40 foot pines swaying in gale force winds, sharks, jellyfish, deer ticks and mosquitos carrying deadly cooties and other perils my mind has blocked for sanity. We’ve held our own and managed to come out on top…except when it comes to the damn snakes. I’ve shared many tales of woe starring one or more of those limbless bastards and yet, here is one more.
I have no love for snakes but as a former science teacher I was able to develop a professional tolerance. However, the three men in my family are utterly traumatized by them, especially 6 year-old Nugget. A couple months ago Nugget was helping the Turk clean up some leaves behind the garage when they happened upon a nest of baby snakes. According to reports, Nugs caught a glimpse of one, six-inch baby murder machine and was paralyzed in fear. He shook. He screamed. He cried and then he fled. Since that incident in June, he will not enter any nature-filled area until I have done a thorough sweep for any snakes or even any sticks that might resemble a snake. As he says, “I’m juth not a fan of thothe damn thakes Mom.”
His father, the Turk, isn’t a fan either but he’s doing better. So far, he’s only run into the house screaming once this year which is way better than last year. He even felt so brave that last month when it was time for the annual sprinkling of the Snake-B-Gone (Seriously, it’s really a thing. It smells like Christmas morning and it works.) he took it upon himself to get the goods and secure the perimeter instead of waiting for his bad-ass wife to do the deed. Unfortunately, he made the newbie mistake of ordering Snake-Away (which smells like your grandma’s attic rather than Christmas morning). The scent of cinnamon and cloves drives snakes back to the bog better than St. Patrick and his flute, but the scent of moth balls makes them roll their little snakey eyes and chuckle as they take over your home.
Because the Turk has spent the last two summers commuting into Boston every day and I am not an epic snake-scardey wuss, reptile management has been my dept. But thanks to the quarantine, he thought he’d take over this year and as husbands do, he assumed he knew the ins and outs of the job without consulting the expert…me.
Upon its arrival, he headed out to spread the first dose of Snake-Away that evening. As a former science teacher who sat though countless middle school “favorite animal” presentation, I know that snakes are most active during cooler parts of the day…like evening. But the Turk didn’t ask me. His evening time, cool weather dosing gave him an up-close interaction with a big mama snake in the backyard before he was sent into heart palpitations when the side-yard ferns began wiggling revealing a snakey love fest. By the time he found a recently shed snakeskin under one of the front bushes, the poor man was shattered. Noob. Breathlessly he rushed into the house, covered in sweat and fear.
“It will be ok now. I put out whole bucket. No snake will come.”
“Your lips to God’s ears honey. I don’t think you three wussies can handle any more snake sightings.”
24 hours later, Nugget and I were heading out to the car and a snake was waiting for us next to the driver’s side. Nugget freaked. “I will not go out there! No way! I’m thayin’ inside forever!” I spent the next 2 days slinging 60 pounds of Nugget over my shoulder for every entrance and exit from the house.
On the third day when he’s almost forgotten about it, I made the mistake of dropping some top-shelf profanity when I nearly stepped on a pair of snakes on my way to the mailbox. “Thee Mom! The thankes are still here. I’m never leavin’ again!”
On the fourth day Nugget peered out the window to see one sunning himself on the lawn. “THANKE!!!!!!!!!!”
As we rushed to the window for confirmation, the Turk was pissed. “What is dis? Why they not leave? I use whole bucket of Snake-Away and they not go away!”
“That’s because you used Snake-Away. You need Snake-B-Gone.”
“You are crazy. There no difference.”
“No dear. Snakes like the smell of old ladies but not the smell of Christmas. Snake-Away is old lady.”
Number 1 son chimed in in a typical 12 year-old fashion. “You should kill it.”
I agreed. “My grandma used to hack off their heads with a hoe.”
“That is because your people are crazy.” The Turk retorted but then something dark sparkled in his eyes. “But yes. I can kill him. That will make them all run away because they scare.” He waved to Number 1, “Get me big rock.”
Within seconds the Turk and Number 1 were locked and loaded on the front step.
Shaking my head I muttered, “You better not miss.”
“I miss.” He confirmed. “Probably good. You know in Turkey if you kill snake his wife take revenge.”
“Hubba whaa?” Even after all these years my husband still drops these little jems of Turkish madness that send me spinning. “So if you kill a Turkish snake his little snakey wife will come and get you?”
“Yes. Maybe I should not kill.”
Fortunately, Nugget had a doctor’s appointment offering me a hasty retreat from the madness. I slung Nugget over my shoulder and left the other two to battle the 12” garter snake currently holding them hostage. Minutes into the appointment my phone chimed with a text.
“We have big problem. I am right.”
“I Google it. If you kill snake, his wife take revenge. Maybe I did not miss him. Maybe I kill him. She can come for me.”
There are no emojis to accurately represent my wide-eyed horror at watching my husband’s descent into madness, so I texted back the only thing I felt to be appropriate. “Ok.”
When Nugget and I arrived home an hour later, the snake was where we left him. I’m pretty sure when I approached to make sure he was alive, his rearing up was accompanied by him flashing two little snakey middle-fingers as he chuckled in my face.
That afternoon I explained to my husband the nuances of snake management, complete with a new bucket of Snake-B-Gone. A little mid-afternoon sprinkle of the cinnamoney goodness and poof – I haven’t had a snake flip the bird since, though I remain on high alert with my Snake-B-Gone at the ready.