Stories and thoughts about family and life

Shirley vs. the Snake (reprinted from August 10, 2010 on Facebook)

on August 10, 2010

So, I’m a country girl.  I was raised on a farm and “critters” don’t really bother me much (except for stinging flying insects–I don’t have much use for them).  I’m not fond of snakes, but I tolerate them.  I know well enough to stay out of their way generally and if they don’t want to stay out of mine they meet with the appropriate demise.  Luckily haven’t had too many of those episodes, but I’m capable should the need arise. 🙂

I was fortunate enough to get to spend some extra time with my dad this past weekend.  Growing up a tomboy, my dad and I were nearly inseparable.  We were always together, and we could count on one another.  I’ve really missed those times with him, getting to just visit and laugh together.  Working alongside my dad is inspiring as well, and I owe much of my work ethic to spending time working with him.

Anyway, we go to southeast Arkansas to help a family cousin in his rice fields.  My dad picks me up Sunday night and we ride down to the farm and try to wait for it to be a little cooler outside (it was 104 when we left Little Rock).  Around 6, it’s right at 100, and we go along the levy on the edge of the field.  We’re looking for a potential infestation of animals who are getting in the rice and crushing it.  The suspects are wild boar hogs, but no one has actually seen them, so we’re not completely certain.  We spent much of the evening on the levy, wiping sweat and drinking gatorade and water.  We manage to see a beaver, a coyote, and three deer.  Not exactly terrorists at this point.  As it is getting dark, we decide to return early in the morning while it’s still “cool” (by Arkansas standards, that means below 100!), and our cousin (who is well into his 60s) is going to walk the rice field with me and we’re going to see if we can spot anything.

Now, I’ve been in the Army.  I’ve done 15 mile road marches.  I’ve low-crawled across fields and carried a 50 pound ruck sack with another 10 pounds in water canteens on my belt and an M-16.  I think I’m a tough girl.  First, it’s important to remember that was nearly 20 years and about 70 pounds ago.  Second, when it’s above 70 degrees, it doesn’t really matter much how in shape you are–it gets HOT in the sun!  But I’m a tough girl and I’m determined I’m going to do this.

If you’ve never seen a rice field, picture a long, relatively flat field, filled with rice plants (which stand up similar to corn, only not as high).  At approximately 50 yard intervals are levies, about a foot high and built to help keep the water in the field where you want it.  Rice grows much of its life in water, so this field is pretty much full of it.   My cousin placed me on one of the levies, and he was going to walk the other one just down the field.  We were supposed to walk the nearly 300 yards down the levy, meet at the end, and then go through the other field.  I have on old blue jeans and long rubber boots, and I start to trudge down the levy.  After about 50 yards, I’m realizing how thick and slippery the mud is.  It’s complicated to stay on the levy, especially as the rice plants are pretty close together.  Nevertheless I keep going, determined that after I go a few minutes, I’ll “get the hang of it.”  Yeah, right.

After I get about 50 yards down the levy, I stop to listen and see if anything is moving in the corn.  There was something.  A snake.  A water moccasin, to be more precise.  I saw him just glide over my boot, and I FREAKED OUT.  I wanted to get away from the snake, and as I started trying to walk (quickly, I might add), I got my feet tangled up and promptly fell in about 4 inches of the muckiest mud you can imagine.  In mud that thick, it’s difficult to find a way to get yourself up, and even moreso when you’re screaming like a banshee and worrying about the snake that you’re pretty sure is going to bite you in the butt.  After what feels like an eternity (but was in reality only about 15 seconds), I’m able to regain my balance, now soaking wet and covered in mud and I trudge a few feet down the levy trying to get my hyperventilation under control.  I laugh at myself briefly, thinking that I’ve now made enough noise that the snake is no doubt all the way across the rice field by now and has no intention of having anything to do with me.  Regardless, it’s an uneasy feeling to go down the levy and continue to hear what I’m growing more certain is a bed of snakes. . .

I made it out of the rice field just fine, although my cousin was smart enough to realize that I wasn’t going to make it to the end of the field I was in, let alone to the next field.  He approached me and found me overheated and exhausted.   We cut across where we were and called it a day, not ever finding the wild hogs we think may be invading his crops. I was grateful to find my dad greeting me with a ride on the 4-wheeler and a cold Gatorade.  We had a lot of fun talking about that whole episode.

I fell a total of six times in my rice field adventure–the last one was completely on my butt, sitting in the water in the middle of the field, and wondering what made me agree to this apparently insane idea.  I’m just stubborn I guess.

I told a friend of mine at lunch that I realized in my snake interaction that if it’s fight or flight, I’m apparently more flight than I am fight.


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