Monday, October 29, 2012

There's a Snake In My Boot!

So a month ago I was meditating on my place in the universe, bacon sandwiches  and the purpose of poodles, when my wife informs me that she is concerned that there might be a gap in at the bottom of the garage door that would permit various small varmints to gain admittance to our house. The concern is that if rodents could gain entry, they would be immediately followed by the next link in the food chain, snakes. Those would of course be followed by cats, and who want's a garage of snake eating cats? I ambled down to take a look at the situation and decided that cooking enough bacon to make a sandwich would be really messy.

To say I didn't give it much more thought would probably be an understatement. I just don't see the garage as much an attraction to varmints, and by extension snakes. Our house is a split level, with the lowest level on one side being the garage. Thus the garage acts as a cold sink for the rest of the house. In summer, this makes it rather pleasant as the A/C intended for the rest of the house will end up in the garage. This unique characteristic is counterbalanced in winter as we use the garage to stage firewood for our wood stove, necessitating constant opening and closing the door between the garage and the warmest room in the house. This allows the completely unnecessary winter heating to efficiently dissipate into frigid night.

Like most suburbanites, we don't really use our garage for cars. In fact, I would venture a guess that people that put their cars in their garage are

  • gazillionaires and have a house that is a garage - like say Jay Leno
  • childless, cash poor, and don't have stuff, deserving our pity, but also having no business owning a house
  • Use the garage as a convenient hobo dismemberment zone when cars are not parked there
  • really, really, snake lovers

Shortly after moving in, I had the brilliant and unique idea to build shelves in the garage to place our stuff on. I know - wacky idea huh? My wife, as she is wont to do, took it to the next level by organizing our stuff into plastic storage bins and placing them on the shelves. Thus our valuable, castoff stuff is secured against the coming Global Apocalypse and the bric-a-brac is preserved in a style that would make the pharaohs green with envy. Seriously, have you ever seen an unwrapped mummy that didn't make you think 'ugh - is that thing green?'

So with no place to find comfort, I don't really worry too much about vermin (or snakes) in the garage. I do have to note that for some reason (perhaps the rise of the devil and his minions), there has been an unusual number of snake sightings in our neighborhood. I suspect that other than the 'rise of evil', the snakes are enjoying the late departing summer weather rather than curling up in their holes away from decent folks like they are supposed to do.

Keeping all that in mind, a few days ago I was stuck by how nice it was and decided to get the kayak out of the garage for one more paddle before putting it up for the winter. I was basing this on the certainty that once again my family will fail to get me a wet suit for my birthday or Christmas. (Are you reading this family?) I go through the usual ritual of loading the kayak in the jeep.

This consist of opening the tailgate, closing the tailgate and opening the passenger door, folding down the passenger seat, putting it back up so I can slide it forward, folding it down again, opening the tailgate, opening the back window, grunting and cursing and lifting the kayak into the jeep, slamming the tailgate, realizing the tie downs are in the trunk, opening the tailgate, getting the tie downs, closing the tailgate, strapping down the kayak, realize that I need to put my wallet & extra keys in the trunk, undoing the tie downs, opening the tailgate, putting the stuff in the trunk, closing the tailgate, tying down the kayak again, etc, etc..

Finally with everything loaded and ready to go, I get in jeep with the bow of the kayak next to me in the passenger seat, and back out of the driveway. As I make the turn at the end of the driveway, I hear an odd scraping noise coming from an indistinct location in the jeep. With a vague feeling of unease, I speed down my road, braking hard as I get to the turn for the main road. This time there is a definite slithering noise, like a scaly creature attempting to gain purchase on some slick surface like, I don't know, a kayak.

Thinking fast, I make an emergency U-turn, briefly pausing as the skittering fall leaves obscure my vision. This maneuver will disorient the serpent, as reptiles swung in a circle quickly become disoriented. I know because I conducted an experiment to prove that theory. I grabbed a deadly viper by the tail, swung it in a circle, and slammed it to the ground. You should have seen how crooked a path it took as it crawled away. Ok - truth: I watched a garden snake crawl away from me once. It's the same principle.

I then accelerated, the G-forces pinning the hell spawn in it's current position by the powerful force of my 4 cylinder engine, preventing it from crawling from the kayak cockpit and biting me in the neck. I skidded hard into my driveway with the idea of slamming the viper into the front of the kayak and further disorienting it. Leaving the engine idling to continue to confuse the reptile, I engaged the emergency brake, and leaped from the jeep. Quickly undoing the tie downs, I pulled the kayak from the jeep, being careful to not place my fingers inside hatch where fangs could reach them.

I then spent the next 10 minutes banging, turning and peering into the kayak. Humm.. No snake. Did it sneak from the kayak while I was diving or distracted? Could it be lurking somewhere in the jeep's interior? A through search of the interior revealed nothing. I then began a more thoughtful analysis of what I had heard. It is just possible that with the back window up what I had heard was sound of leaves bouncing down the street. I suppose it is a mystery that I will never solve.

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