Copperheads understand English

By TIM BEELAND,

Believe it or not, around 6:30 Saturday morning I discovered that there are indeed reptiles that understand the English language.

It was just prior to that time that I finished my fourth cup of coffee and ventured out into the extreme heat, even for that time of day, to begin the grass cutting routine. En route to the mower shed I noticed a big saw briar vine creeping up and over the fence next to the carport. I grabbed my snippers and commenced to clearing the fence of said vine and gave it a couple of extra chops just to prove whose house it really is.

Pleased with my work, I bent down to pick up the clippings and low and behold right there between my bare feet was a right nice-sized copperhead. As in snake. As in the poisonous variety.

Well needless to say that’s when I found out that snakes do indeed understand English. Or, at least certain choice words of the English language that one would not utter on any row of the Baptist, Methodist, or, I dare say, even the Presbyterian church.

That snake did understand me, I am certain, because it chose to turn and go the other way and save me, myself, and I for another day. Praise the Lord as Eddie Mae would say! Or, actually, she did say! Eddie Mae is a co-worker of my wife’s who was following the snake debate on social media.

Snakes don’t usually spook me as long as I know where they are and where they are going. This particular one was a surprise that gave me  chill bumps, got my heart racing, and as said, my curser cursing!

Several years ago I had a similar encounter while cleaning out the swimming pool strainer basket. I bent over and reached into the basket about up to my elbow and pulled out a handful of leaves and pine straw, and a little water snake. I’m pretty sure I screamed that day but kept the cursing to myself. I did fling the snake pretty far into the backyard.

Then about two or three years ago I was raking some leaves away from the back deck and fireplace and when I reached to pull up some vines there was a little Copperhead — much smaller than Saturday’s — coiled up looking at me. I was going to let it go, but when it tried to bite me I decided freedom was no longer on the table.

We’ve always had snakes roaming around  our house it seems. There was a big, beautiful king snake that lived with us for years that just disappeared one day. Old age, I suppose.

Currently there is a great big water snake that thinks the pool, which is covered and out of service this year, is its home and sunning on the deck is its passion. I think it likes eating frogs, of which there is an abundance in the backyard and woods. It doesn’t matter how much chlorine we dump into the pool, that snake comes right back. I suppose it  doesn’t care who pays the taxes or the water bill for that matter.

Many, many years ago as a Boy Scout at Camp Binachi, east of Meridian, former Scott County Times Publisher Sid Salter, me, and a couple other Scouts found ourselves in a battle with a Timber Rattler. We won and ended up skinning and cooking the thing. Whether or not it “tasted like chicken” I do not remember. I mentioned it to Sid not long ago and he said it definitely did not!

In wrapping up this snake lore, I would be amiss not to mention one other encounter in which I came out on the wrong end of a snake tale. Once again I was raking leaves in the back yard and tossing them over the fence into the woods when I felt a sting on my foot. It wasn’t a bee but a bite and there were two little fang marks to prove it. It wasn’t that bad, but not something I care to recreate, and that, my friends, is why I’m really happy that Copperheads understand English!

Keep an eye out when you are out.