Insights from Morton High

Snakes II

Dean has been home frequently this summer, and has begun to appreciate the prairie sky and stretches of open land. One sunny morning he opened the door to discover a large bull snake stretched out sunning himself on the porch. It was longer than he was tall(over 6') and as big around as his forearm. From that day on he and "B" (AKA Mrs. H.H. Beach -- our dog) went on snake patrol together. "B: was much braver when Dean, carrying his shovel, went along on snake finding expeditions. She became quite good at locating them and their trails, and she developed quite a distinctive bark which accompanied such finds.

Several days later I heard him call out as he was opening the windows in the early evening. "There's a snake in the backyard!" He dashed for the door picking up a shovel with which I assume he intended to hack the thing to death! "Wait," I called as I dove for my shoes and flew out the back door after him.

I found him having trouble locating the reptile in the grass(He had shut "B" up in a case it was a dangerous snake). His search gave me time to reason with him. Now, if it had been Jimmy Webb. I reckon he would have just shot the snake from the window, or if I had been Kayton Tyson a simple sawed-off shotgun would have obliterated it and the surrounding territory as well. But as for me and my house, we have noticed that ever since the bullsnakes share the backyard with us there has been no mouse or rat problem. It's also no old wives tale that where you have bullsnakes you don't often have rattlesnakes.

When we finally found the snake hiding not more than one foot from Dean it turned out to be the small bullsnake. By this time, I had spoken glowingly of the well-camoflaged little fellow and his kin. As if he understood our conversation he crawled away into one of the bushes. Several nights later, during one of the huge thunderstorms and downpours we've had, Mrs. Beach used her urgent, "there's a snake," bark. When I walked to the front door to investigate, the body of a large bullsnake was stretched out across the doorway pushing up against the screen. Luckily the screen, which Jimmy Webb built for us, held and I didn't have an uninvited guest this time. I was also quite proud of myself as I didn't panic or call 911.

Then I went to the back door. Opening it, I almost stepped on yet another snake at the bottom of the stairs. It slithered away behind the car. Apparently word had spread in the reptilian world that this was a safe-haven for snakes, and as their dens filled up with water they decided to join us on dry ground. I closed the door and decided that I would just stay inside for the night.

Like so many things in life snakes come in good and bad varieties, and all need to be dealt with in a respectful manner. Even the good snakes, though welcome in our habitat would not be welcomed into our homes as friends. Many of the discoveries which have forged our world are welcomed into our homes as friends. Many of the discoveries which have forged our world are like that. While atomic power can be used for good or ill it requires wisdom, respect and a high degree of education to use it. It is a lesson we would do well to impart to our students. Not all in life falls neatly into the good or bad categories. Most things can be either, but knowing when something is good or bad requires a good education, lots of free thought and discussion, and a healthy dose of common sense. Though it is not a course that is offered at school, you can live long on the prairie without developing it!

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