All snakes are poisonous until proven otherwise, usually by bonking them on the head first and asking questions later. That's always been my motto when it comes to snakes.
But what happens when you (a) can't identify the snake, (b) can't bonk it on the head, and (c) it's just carjacked your vehicle? That's the situation my wife and I found ourselves in late last week.
You can tell summer has arrived a month early at my house, not just from the oppressive heat and humidity that feels more like mid-August than late May, but also by the sound of the birds. When my wife and I moved to the wilds of Lafayette County a couple of years ago, one of the first things we learned about country living was to listen to the birds. When the birds start congregating in one spot and chattering so loudly it sounds like an edition of “Crossfire,” it means one of two things: Either it's a gathering of Democrats and Republicans or there's a snake nearby.
Now before you ask how you can tell the difference, let me say that they're all dangerous, but snakes have scales, no arms and don't wear business suits so they're usually pretty easy to distinguish from politicians. Usually.
And so it was that my wife called me out of the house last week when the birds started making a racket around a post oak tree. Sure enough, after a little searching, we spotted a rather large snake wrapped around a limb about halfway up the tree. From our angle, we could see only the belly of the snake and not the head so I had no idea what kind it was and decided to go into the house and retrieve some binoculars.
But when I returned less than a minute later, my wife was standing at the top of the driveway either pointing furiously at something or stabbing an invisible dwarf in the eye.
“The snake came down out of the tree and was on the hood of my car!” she shouted.
Apparently the snake was moving so fast my wife didn't get a good look at it and couldn't say what kind it was although, if forced to guess, she probably would have said it was a King Cobra that had somehow swam over from India.
“Where is it now?” I asked.
She pointed to the hood of her car and I looked just in time to see the last foot and a half of snake tail disappearing underneath the hood of the engine. I jumped into the car hoping the snake hadn't yet figured out how to get into the passenger compartment and started the engine and honked the horn but no snake emerged from underneath the hood.
I got out. Real quick.
Needless to say, neither of us went near the car for a day. When we finally were forced to get in it, we still weren't sure what had happened to the snake. But I did learn something from the experience: It's hard to drive a car when you're afraid to put your feet on the floorboard.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org