Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Do-Nothing Technique

There’s a snake in the woodpile. I think he’s there because I haven’t used the wood in a while. It got warm so I opened all the windows and stopped using the woodstove. Then it got cold again. Too stubborn to turn on the electric heat one more time when I thought we were all done, I started up the woodstove.

I had already made four or five trips to the woodpile when I stumbled upon him. I pulled my hand back and screamed. I’m not scared of snakes but it was such a surprise. I’m sure he’s poisonous. I’m sure he’s one of those copperheads. He’s a rusty color like a copper pipe. He didn’t run. Just looked at me. I threw the tarp back on top of him and went about my business. Later, when Kelly came home from school, I told her about him. She wanted to see. I warned her he’d probably be gone. It was a long time since we made eye contact. I told her to stand back and hold the dog. I got a stick and carefully lifted the tarp just in case. He was still there alright. He looked at me and his tongue darted in and out.

Kurt said we have to kill him. We can’t have a copperhead running around here. They’re bad. That makes me feel bad. He’s not bothering anybody. I’m the one who’s encroaching on the wildlife. They were here first. And he can’t help it if he’s poisonous.

Luckily, I didn’t nag Kurt to get rid of him so he didn’t go out there. That’s a new technique I learned. The do-nothing technique. How it works is this: Say he wants to go do something that I don’t want to do. Like rent a boat. In order to avoid being accused of only wanting to do the things that I want to do, like go antiquing or ride the horses, I just say okay. That makes him happy. And then I don’t get on the phone and find boat rental places and schedule dates and find coolers and Thermoses. And he never does it. Because I am the party planner. Though it’s not a formal title. Therefore, it never gets done and I don’t get blamed for it.

Or how he wants to change all the paneling in the living room because it’s not real wood. I don’t like it either but it’s not bad. It wouldn’t be my first choice of improvements to make around here. I think there’s more important things like that black stick-on floor in the kitchen that’s supposed to look like marble in some Italian’s McMansion in Staten Island.

Or the naked light bulb hanging by a cord over the stairs. So I just nod my head and say, “Yeah, we gotta get rid of that stuff.” But then I don’t look through the decorating magazines to get new ideas and I don’t shop around for new paneling and I don’t plan a weekend to do it and so he doesn’t do it. But I did pick out the new tiles for the kitchen and I have high hopes that it’ll be down soon. Nice Depression green and cream supermarket tiles, just the kind that would be in a Depression-era little farmhouse.

When I went out there today to take a picture of the snake, he was gone. I thought I saw his tail disappear under one of the bottom logs but I can’t be sure. I know Kurt sure as hell ain’t going to move all those logs to look for him. So he got away.

I feel irresponsible because I am glad. What if one of us moves the lawn cart some day and there he is and he pops out and bites us? I make myself a note to contact one of those tree-hugging people, those hippie sheep-raising, pottery-making raccoon rehabilitators who move to Floyd and who pride themselves on respecting wildlife and sharing the earth. The locals think they’re crazy. The locals would have just taken a hoe and chopped that snake in half or got one of the guns and blown it up with half the firewood and the garage behind it. The locals are probably right about what needs to be done. I can see it now biting me in the ass.


Sloan said...

Im so happy you didn't kill that snake! I liked the story!

CountryDew said...

Call the exterminator, or hippie snake man. Yikes.