Saturday, May 6, 2017

When a Snake Bites!

Dad on a river, probably the Niangua.
My favorite picture of him
With my dad’s passing, I’ve been thinking about our family’s version of Indiana Jones.  Dad was called that more than once, the Indiana Jones of Missouri.

Recently, I read an article, here, that reminded me of him, about a young man bitten by a copperhead. We’ve had torrential rain and devastating flooding, all over MO, and have been reminded to watch for relocated snakes, but of course we don't think about it.  

Snakes are a part of rural life (city too). As I’ve mentioned previously, I happen to like snakes. I think they’re cool. I don’t tell people that information much or there is a big possibility I will lose friends. Snakes are not on my fear list, but if at this moment there is sweat forming on your brow and your heart is racing, then perhaps you have a snake phobia. If so, then you should not click on the links in this post, and you should not travel with me down the rural memory road.

I asked my dad once about how many snake bites he’d received in his life. His eyes twinkled when he grinned and said, “Oh I don’t know, Teresa, too many to remember.” (He almost always said my name in sentences, even if I was the only one there.)

I told him I remembered once when he’d reached inside a feed bin (made I think out of a refrigerator on its back or maybe an old freezer) and he came out with a snake bite. His hand looked pretty bad, swollen and somewhat bruised after that. He said it was a copperhead that had bitten him. Even though he was bitten a few times in life, it never changed my mind about snakes. Knowing the way he felt about doctors and hospitals, I don’t remember him visiting a doctor, either.
When I was a kid, I remember dad owning a snake bite kit, something like this found on Ebay. The cylinder thingy had a blade inside to (maybe?) cut the bite open. After that the suction cup, one half of the cylinder, would be used to suck out the venom.  

John Miller a “snake expert” said in the aforementioned article, in the Springfield News-Leader, that in modern day there is no cutting the bite area or sucking out the venom (paraphrased). You just need to get to the hospital as soon as possible and keep the bite below your heart (edited). He said there is no reason to take the slain snake to the doctor for show-and-tell since the modern anti-venoms are great.

Oops, I might have taken a brown recluse, live spider, in a brown paper bag to the doctor’s office when I was bitten. I felt the need for show-and-tell, to prove it was what I said it was because I knew they’d say something like “I doubt if it was a brown recluse.” And they did! And...I was ready to point to the brown paper bag, I’d placed on the counter in the room, with the spider inside (yes, it was in a jar, but they didn’t know that).  

Dad as a young man, holding a snake!
My dad always respected wildlife and nature and more than that he loved it. When a hawk that he was nursing back to health landed on his arm and dug his talons in flesh, Dad said, “He didn’t do it on purpose.” Dad always said that about snakes. They don’t seek out people to bite them. We intrude or scare them. He also said that about spiders, how they have their place in the world and that some...are...beautiful. Of course, I tuned most of that information out because spiders and I go way back and it's not a pretty story.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa - lovely to read these rural rides with you ... I am really not a fan of snakes ... not exactly sure why - ours aren't dangerous (well the adder is - but not that much) ... and they don't like being around us much. We had a compost heap and my Dad would find a clutch of eggs, and bring them in and hatch them in a flower vase - can remember what it looked like, where it was placed ... can't remember the 'snakelings' but definitely not happy with them in the house. Still not so sure! Have had a few encounters since -here and in SA ... but loved this post - so real ... and your Dad -so special! Cheers Hilary

Pat Hatt said...

True words from him indeed, as most animals aren't trying to hurt us, just protect themselves. And yeah, I'd take it with me too. Doctors have the habit of not believing until one croaks, pffft.

JoJo said...

What a great story! Your dad was definitely brave! I am not a fan of snakes at all. We have little ones here and I don't think any are poisonous. Black racers can get pretty big though.

Mason Canyon said...

Your dad does sound like an Indiana Jones type. I have a healthy respect for snakes. Have a great week my friend.

Suzanne Furness said...

What an interesting journey through your memories. I don't have a fear of snakes particularly, although I wouldn't like to come face to face with anything deadly. . . but spiders, even quite small ones make me want to run and hide!

cleemckenzie said...

There are a lot of half-truths out there about poisonous snakes, that's for sure. Rattlesnakes are what we have here, but they generally don't kill you if you use common sense (you've told people what to do). However, when I lived in Southeast Asia, we had Black Kraits, and everybody got nervous when one of them was killed in the area. They come in pairs, so if you've got one, you've got two. That other one is waiting for you. They can render a deadly bite, so nobody walked in tall grass without trepidation.

I'm not a snake fan. I prefer things with legs, so I can take lizards and other reptiles, but I steer clear of anything that slithers on its belly. :-)

Nick Wilford said...

So sorry to hear this news. He sounds like an amazing man - taking snake bites in his stride! Take care.

Susan Kane said...

Your father does sound like quite a man. Dealing with snakes all this life gave him a better understanding of this world.

As for me, I will stay quietly out of brush where rattlesnakes abide.

Also, I grew up in Illinois on a farm. Didn't think about any snakes except black snakes, garter snakes, and blue racers. None lethal.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love that your dad was so laid back about snakes and passed that on to you! I'm not afraid of snakes either (it makes life difficult in the south if you are). I'm not really afraid of spiders either, but I'm more wary of them--I did get a brown recluse bite when I was cleaning my parents' garage when I was 20. There was a huge rainbow of colors in a big circle on my leg for weeks.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your dad was right - snakes are just protecting themselves, not out to bite everyone.
Funny you took the spider in a jar in the bag.
That's a good memory to have of your father.

Elephant's Child said...

Loving travelling the memory trail with you. I am not a fan of snakes (when one lived under our front steps I used the back door for about nine months) but respect their beauty. And their right to live.

Arlee Bird said...

My dad was the opposite of yours--he was a city boy in a sense even though he grew up in a pretty small town. I don't relish snake encounters though they do fascinate me. I'd rather view them on the TV screen or in controlled encounters. My wife on the other had does have an extreme phobia when it comes to snakes. She gets upset if I even mention the word.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out