Snake Stories

The first day of my bike tour, I heard about a woman on the tour, cute, short auburn hair, wore dresses, from Georgia, who had got bitten on the foot by a copperhead the week before.

She limped a little, and I'd see her at rest stops with one shoe off to relieve the pressure from her still-swollen foot. And each day, inevitably, she'd pass me in a long line of efficient cyclists, and she'd chirp a "good morning."

The relative fame of the copperhead bite started a tide of snake stories around the campsites.

My favorite was told by a sun-burnt man with a southern drawl and provinces of white skin around his eyes. He and his wife had moved to South Dakota from Virginia. Being in the military, they moved a lot.

Driving, one day, Mr. South Dakota pointed out a water moccasin as they passed it on the road. His wife didn't believe that that was what it was, so he pulled the truck around to take her back and show her. He pulled to the side of the dirt road, and before he could get out of the driver's seat, his wife (I imagine wearing a floral print dress with a sash tied round the middle) had run over to the snake to pick it up.

The water moccasin latched onto her thumb, and by the time South Dakota got to her she was howling and whipping the snake around. Floral print going everywhere. SD had to kill the snake to get it off her.

(And that's my favorite part of the story, the fact that this woman exists, who's first reaction to prove her husband wrong, is to go pick up a poisonous snake.)

He wrapped the carcass (snake) in an old towel in the truck and got himself and his wife in the cab to drive to the hospital.

There was a hospital close-by, but he wanted to take her to the military one half an hour away. Her hand was swelling already. "She could have lost her thumb," he chose this time to tell us.

They make it to the hospital; she doesn't lose her thumb. The attendant at the desk is wary to let them in saying, "How do you know it was a water moccasin?"

South Dakota unfurls the towel, and the dead snake rolls onto the man's desk, serrated head gaping up at him. SD shows us with both hands how the man shoved himself backwards up against the wall. They got prompt service after that.

Once, years ago at the dog-run park in Colorado Springs, my brothers were playing in the creek while my dad threw the ball for Littles. I was sitting on the bank and saw opposite me a black and white snake (so thick I couldn't have gotten my hand around it) belly-crawling (as you might imagine) in the weeds next to where my brothers were playing. My mom saw it too. As it made its descent towards her babies she yelled, "Oh my Gawd! Tom, you should take a picture."

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