There are two words that strike fear in my heart . . . and by fear, I mean terror . . . and by terror, I mean they leave me hysterically running Chicken-Little-Style in circles, hyperventilating, crying and screaming. Those two words are . . . gulp . . . "spider" and "snake." As of Saturday, almost exactly seven months after moving into our new home, I've now experienced both.
If you don't already know about my "spider" experience, let me quickly share. Our first night after closing on our new home, we came to the house to drop off a load of our stuff. As I started to enter the house through the garage, I noticed something dark out of the corner of my eye. Time and my heart stopped when I realized we had a tarantula in our garage. Yep, that big hairy spider. We have photos showing it stretching the width of my large baseboard, but I won't post it here and risk having to look at it every time I log on. Knowing that my children could inherit my own irrational (are they really irrational?????) fears, I tried to mask my fear and calmly let my oldest son look at it with my husband . . . I was three garage car bays away but ready to bolt inside after any movement; I know those things can run fast! After their little scientific observation, my sweet husband kindly shooed it out with a broom. I'm quite certain "Hubert," which is the name my husband gave it, is currently only yards away from my house amassing an army to penetrate my home Arachnaphobia-style. Anyway, that was our first house-warming guest, and I've been looking for him every day since.
Fast-forward seven months to Saturday when my oldest son was in the back yard playing. As usual, I took occasional glances out the window to make sure I could see him and that he wasn't picking up random animal poop or torturing any bugs. At one point, I couldn't find him, so I opened the back door and saw him on the patio. As he turned to head up the steps and into the house, I saw a look of terror come over his face, and he ran as quickly as he could up the steps and inside. All I could get out of him was one word - "snake." I quickly shut the door (slammed is more accurate) and bolted it. I was quite certain if the snake scaled the door and made it up to the door handle, it at least wouldn't have a key. My mind quickly took mental note of all the windows in the house, even those on the second floor (well, if it could make it to the door handle, what would keep it from getting all the way up there?) to remind myself that I hadn't opened up the house. I stepped carefully toward the window, being sure to stay at least a foot a way, in case it were to leap off the patio (which is ONLY 5 feet or so down) and break through the window. Then the terror was kicked up a notch to full-on mental incapacity when I didn't see the snake on the patio. The only thing worse than seeing a snake is knowing one's out there but not being able to find it. For a moment, I thought my son COULD have made up seeing one, or mistaken some yard trash for a snake, but he assured me it was a snake, it was BIG (which for him was his arm span) and it was black and yellow.
My husband, who was at a local hadrward store when I called him in a panic, came home equipped with the most horrifying piece of literature I've ever seen - a fold-out brochure with full color photos of all the indigenous snakes in our area. Who needs to know everything that's lurking out in the woods? Ignorance is bliss, for me. Ugh . . . nice red Vs for "venomous" next to the ones that would inject me full of venom after I'd fallen down with a heart attack. Good to know. My husband stepped outside and didn't see it immediately but then did a quick head jerk (the same one he had when he exclaimed, "That's a BIG spider!" several months ago), and said he had indeed located the serpent. He asked me to get him a broom (not my broom again, really??), and stuck his head outside to help the serpent find safety somewhere outside our fence. He's such a nice guy, isn't he? Guess what. No snake. I finally asked him to turn over one of the propane tanks outside (mind you, I was INSIDE with the windows shut making these demands), and the monstrous thing was there. I'm certain it was 3-feet long, and I began to shriek and tear-up as I saw the thing slithering it's way through the grass, it's head turned back toward the window, staring at me as if to say, "Don't worry, deary. I'll be back." At one point my oldest looked at me and said, "Are you crying?" to which I had to calmly tell him no, that his Mama was just not feeling well, having some sort of spastic seizure that would soon pass, and that my psychotic episode was in no way related to the friendly snake outside. Seriously, I'm nauseous right now just putting "friendly" in the same sentence with "snake."
As it turns out, our newest tenant was (and I stress WAS because I must believe it and every member of its extended family have taken up residence somewhere far far away if I'm ever to go outside again) a black ribbon snake. Yep, "ribbon." Seriously? Ribbons are on birthday presents and happy balloons and in little girls' hair, not something to name a snake. Sigh. Now, the torment continues as my son occasionally thrusts the brochure in my face, asking me to look at how pretty the snakes are and how useful that little "V" is for future identification needs. I just pat him on the head, say, "Yes, dear," and hope any potential fascination he has with snakes is quickly replaced with butterflies. Mama likes butterflies. Pretty, pretty, non-venomous, non-slithering, butterflies . . .