Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How To Kill A Snake (Or Not)

Today in School of Ministry class we discussed Adam and how thanks to him we're all born sinners. A snake was involved in all this original sin stuff and naturally my mind wandered -- briefly! only briefly! -- to an encounter with a serpent at our first house in Virginia. It was a warm, muggy June day (that's redundant when you're talking about Virginia) and we had just moved in. I was upstairs writing away for the newspaper and the kids were out back in the yard playing soccer. At one point I heard some bloodcurdling screaming and hustled outside to see what was up. Fearing someone had busted a leg, instead I saw Evie running in circles and screaming. I soon learned why. Sunning itself against the brick foundation was a nearly three-foot-long snake. As snakes go, it was a serious snake. I alertly told everyone to calm down and considered my options: Shoo it away? Try and take it out? Make it a pet? I had heard about a poisonous local snake called a "copperhead," but wasn't sure if that's what was parked in my back yard. Brenton theorized it was a garter snake. Um, yeah. I told Brenton to stand guard and make sure no little kids decide to play with the "garter snake" while I ran upstairs to the computer and googled "copperhead."

The snake that showed up on my computer was a dead ringer for the one sunbathing in my back yard; a long, scaly, brown, deadly thing with a distinctive diamond pattern on its back. Not exactly a playmate for the kids. I ran outside and immediately took charge, hustling into the garage where I snagged an edging shovel and a machete that the previous homeowner had left behind (among a truckload of other useless items.) With the edger I jabbed at the snake right below his head thinking I'd just lop it off. That didn't go so well. All I managed to do was pin him against the bricks and he started coiling around the handle, his forked tongue flicking in and out. Occasionally he opened wide and bared his fangs. My kids were wigging out so I had Brenton hold the edger while I grabbed the machete to finish him off. One problem. The machete was so dull it wouldn't even slice butter. And come to think of it, they make boots out of snakes, right? Which means these serpents must have pretty thick skin ... so I told Brenton to hang in there while I ran into the garage and basically cleaned it out of yard implements. A pitchfork, shovel, leaf blower, chainsaw...the usual assortment. Fortunately, like any self-respecting Oregonian, I've got an ax. As Brenton kept the choke hold on Mr. Copperhead (I'm almost positive it was turning blue at this point), I took a swing with the ax. Thwunk. And with that, the deadly copperhead was neutralized as I lopped off his melon. If only my man Adam had tried that back in the Garden of Eden...


  1. Was that the same snake that you wrote about in one of your Christmas letters? Great story bro! Awesome application...if only Adam and Eve had a shed full of garden tools!

  2. Look at that! I found the Sabo blog! That's a great story, although, I must say, not the best story to share for someone who tries to convince people to move out to Virginia. :)

  3. Ahem, well Jessie...um, you know, there really aren't that many snakes in Virginia as far as I can see. In fact, I would say that as a whole, we haven't seen a snake in Virginia since September. Does that make you feel better?