When you live in the country, like we do, you feel a kinship with Nature. But you must never lose sight of the fact that Nature isn’t all Bambi and butterflies. Sometimes, Nature is a fanged demon of destruction that wants to kill you.

Here is a true-life account of my encounter with such a beast.

I was weeding the garden one morning, and was walking by the basement door to the next flowerbed when a slight movement caught my eye. A huge, black snake was sunning itself in front of the door and I had passed within striking range of the monster.

I sprinted left and he slithered right. I dropped hose, trowel and gloves and did the Kitchen Door Dash in two seconds flat. My husband wasn’t home, and as soon as I got to the safety of the house, I dialed his cellphone.

“I was attacked by a ginormous rattlesnake!” I screamed.

He said calmly, “We don’t get many rattlesnakes in Illinois. What did it look like?”

I gave a clear, factual description: “It was about 8 feet long, black, as big around as a pipe and had reddish markings. It was Biblical – Garden of Eden stuff! ‘And yeah, forsooth and verily, the Asp will strike at Man’s heel, and Man will stomp the Foul Beast underfoot…’ but MY foot is not going anywhere NEAR that thing. It reared up slowly, like it was being charmed out of a basket in ‘Aladdin,’ looked at me with evil, red eyes and fangs like daggers…”

“Sounds like a bull snake,” he interrupted. “They’re harmless.”

“Harmless? Harmless?” I sputtered. “Nut-jobs are always buying killer snakes from the Amazon. Then they get tired of them and flush them down the toilet. This is probably one of those exotic, extra-poisonous foreign snakes that got tired of city sewer life and slithered out to the country.” A new terror occurred to me. “Ohhhh, no!” I groaned, smacking my forehead with my hand.

“What now?” Even through the phone, I could tell he had assumed his Long Suffering Spouse expression.

“It was heading toward the front of the house and the garage door is open.” I dropped my voice to a whisper. “What if the S-N-A-K-E got in there?”

“Why are you whispering? And why are you spelling?” he sounded genuinely puzzled.

I did not deign to answer that.

“Don’t worry, poisonous snakes are rare around here,” he said in a Soothe the Loony voice. “It’s more afraid of you than you are of it...”

“Not ruddy likely,” I interrupted with a snort.

“…but maybe you’d better shut the garage door,” he continued.

Oh. no.

I like Nature as well as the next city girl, but if wrestling with a 12-foot long Burmese python is the price to be paid for fresh air, then point me toward Manhattan.

But, as is often the case, there was no one else around to handle the crisis. I was alone in my hour of need.

I slowly opened the door to the garage, hiding behind it with a fireplace poker. I stretched my arm as far as I could, hit the garage door switch with the poker and slammed the door behind me.

Bill says chances are slim-to-none that the snake slithered up my drainpipe and hatched babies, but I am not willing to take that chance. I’ve given up on our Rav 4 as a lost cause, and haven’t been in the garage since.

Peg Schulte and her husband, Bill, are agents with Dimond Bros. Insurance in Peru. Peg can be reached at schultef2@yahoo.com.

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