15 May 2013

He Shall Have Power to Crush Thy Head

As a kid I used to pick up snakes all the time.  There was a family in our ward when I was six that had frogs and snakes in their irrigation ditch and we'd go crazy there.  I used to love the way they felt. (Before you ask, yes I had warts.)  Right about the time I hit puberty, I decided I didn't like snakes all that much.

Today, I picked my son up from Kindergarten and because we had to drop something off at a friend's house, we walked a different street than usual.  I was pushing the stroller with my niece in it, my son was holding my hand and telling me about the teddy bear picnic they had at school today.  Suddenly, he stopped.

"Mom, look!"  Except he says it "Mom, wook!"

Sure enough.  In the grass was a garter snake.  Harmless, small, and fascinating for a five-year old.  At first, it was so still that my son said, "I think it's fake."  I touched the tip of the tail to prove him wrong.  Being a homeschooling Mom at least some of the time, I had to tell him everything I knew about garter snakes, which boiled down to "It won't hurt you," and "see its tongue poking out?  It smells with its tongue."  We watched it for a minute and I nudged my son with my elbow.  "Pick it up."

"No, Mom.  You pick it up... please?"

I'm a sucker for a cute face and a please.  After gathering up my reserves of courage, I darted my hand in and picked it up.

It felt eewier than I remembered.  It twisted and pulsed and had the misfortune of feeling scaly.  My son and niece each poked it a few times to see it squirm.

About that time, some kids from my son's class came up and saw us (me) holding the snake and wanted to be part of that party.  The little girl dared take the snake from my hand, and that made my son think maybe he'd like to hold it too.

I noticed some yellow slime on the tail end of the snake while my son was holding it and thought, "I bet that was some protective secretion the snake has on its body and we're rubbing it off."  So, being a natural idiot, I had my son put it back in the grass.

That's when I looked at my own hand.  The yellow slime had indeed been some kind of secretion.  Poo.  While wiping my hand off repeatedly on the grass I remembered why I stopped liking snakes.