Our household tends to use a phrase pretty often. "Why does the snake bite?" It comes from an old Native American tale in which a medicine woman finds an injured snake and cares for it. When the snake is healed, it bites her. As she lies dying on the floor, she asks the snake to explain to her, after all her devotion, love and care, why it bit her. The snake's simple reply was, "Because I'm a snake. It is my nature."
Except today it didn't.
Let me rewind and explain.
As many of you know, hubby had to leave again after only a day of being home. We all took it pretty hard. My brother, in an attempt to cheer us up, suggested that we all go for a hike. He knows how much I love the outdoors and since moving to this big city (far from my country home), I haven't gotten to experience much fresh air, quiet forest, and exquisite wildlife. I agreed to the idea and he, myself, and my two children piled into the car. We'd done a brief internet search and found a local hiking trail on two acres, nestled deep in the heart of a local city. To protect it's reputation, it shall remain unnamed.
The scenery was breath-taking and we were truly enjoying ourselves. Beautiful, metallic blue and green dragonflies with pitch black wings danced around us in groups. One even let me touch it. Small fish swam in a stream that ran parallel to the mulch covered trail we were on. Ivy climbed tall trees with plaques that announced they were well over 200 years old. We were really enjoying ourselves.
Until the snake.
My family has always made fun of me when we go for walks around our neighborhood because I walk with my head down and my gaze searching the path just a few feet ahead of me. They tease me it is because I'm so socially awkward (read paranoid/shy) that I try not to see the people around us. I call it self-preservation. I came from a farm that had a pond. During the hot summer months, it was usually swarming with snakes (black king snakes, brown or green garden snakes, copper heads, cotton mouths). I've been taught, since the moment I could toddle, to watch for snakes.
That's why I saw it when they didn't.
My brother, pushing the stroller with my one and a half year old child, was walking right next to it. My six year old was already ahead on the path. I saw it and had three thoughts run through my head.
1) It was about 3 or 4 feet long
2) It was within biting distance of my brother and my youngest child
3) It was a poisonous copper head
What I should have done was kept my mouth shut, let my brother get past, and then said something to him. What I did do was say, "Oh my gods, Michael!"
He, hearing the panic in my voice, froze.
"No, no, no, no! Keep going. Keep going and you'll be safe." <--My voice rising as I say this.
My six year old, hearing the panic too, comes running back to the safest place he knows. Straight at me. Straight across the snake. I screamed at him to stop. Mike, still not knowing what is wrong, reaches out to grab him. Xander trips, falls, and lands ON the freaking snake.
You know how, in movies, when really, really bad shit happens, they slow the frames down. Yeah...I screamed my sons name in a way I have never screamed in my life as I watched him fall. Sheer panic over took me. I wanted to lunge forward, but I knew I would never get there in time.
My son landed. The snake froze, its head touching my boy's chest. My brother jerked my son back to his feet and stepped away, then FINALLY sees the snake. The snake, clearly confused, slithers off. The poisonous snake, who could have, and by all rights, should have, bitten my child, did not touch him.
My six year old and I clutched each other on the path and cried, shaking. I don't know why the snake didn't bite him. It is a snake's nature to bite. Not only that, but with all the commotion and a human falling on it, it should have bit out of self-defense, if for no other reason.
I, for one, am just happy that in this case, the snake decided to act against it's nature. ~ D. F. Krieger