This post was written by Steve Henry
My beautiful wife, realizing that the weeds around the house have grown to over three feet tall, surprised me with an Anniversary Edition Craftsman 32cc 1.9 cubic inch 2-cycle 17 inch cutting path gasoline weedwacker with Sim-Pul technology for smooth easy starts.
Personally, I don’t mind weeds. I think weeds get a bad wrap. Weeds should have just as much right to grow as do grass and flowers. Weeds can be beautiful too. It is part of nature.
Anyway, I got the hint so last Sunday, April 29, 2007, I fired up the weed wacker and went to work. I live in Southeastern North Carolina, in what is known as the sub-tropics. Wilmington, North Carolina to be exact. Home of the famous Azalea Festival. The reason I mention this is to help explain some details to the people reading who are not familiar with the Southeast United States.
The Southeast has many creepy crawly creatures that like to make homes in overgrown areas with lots of weeds. Many, many reptiles and live hand in scale with humans. There is also a plethora of small rodents and mammals crawling around out thereâ€¦so makes the circle of life. I like to refer to my backyard as â€œThe Jungle.â€ We have a fairly large backyard that is fenced in by a wooden 6 foot fence. The first half of the yard, the part that is next to the house, is cleared (except for my overgrown weeds). The back half is â€œThe Jungle.â€ Many a day I have heard things rustling through the underbrush in the jungle. It doesn’t bother me, because I am a tree-hugger nature boy, and I love all animals (except that German Shepherd that lived up the street when I was a kid, the one that used to chase me all the time).
So I start wacking the weeds next to the house. I have to admit, there were a lot of weeds. It took about 30 minutes. I had forgotten about the hole my dog Keesha had dug last fall. Keesha is an Akita.
The weeds had totally covered her hole, naturally I stepped in the hole, tripped and fell. I chuckled, because I bet it looked pretty funny. I got up and wacked the hole, which is right next to the house. I then stopped the Craftsman weedwacker. I suddenly noticed numerous unusually large geckos running away from the area. I thought this to be a little strange, since this was something with which I had never noticed of their character before. I then noticed some sort of commotion about 25 feet away near the corner of the house. I walked over to inspect what was happening. Apparently, I had disturbed many creatures, two of which were a young opossum and the largest Cottonmouth Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus) I had ever seen. The cottonmouth had its fangs sunk into the opossum. I was totally in awe. This is something you would see Steve Irwin (Crocodile Hunter) examining. The opossum stopped struggling after about 10 seconds. For some reason, I automatically tried to help the opossum, like it was a murder victim or something. Without thinking, I had grabbed my trash grabbers, those things you can use to pick up trash without bending over. I reached out and hooked the snake and picked it up. It would not let go of the opossum. So I grabbed the opossum with the tongs and started shaking it. After about a minute, the snake fell to the ground, not very happy with me. My neighborhood is built on what used to be a swamp. Cottonmouth snakes are not uncommon, but usually do not come this close. I figured it must have been living in that hole that Keesha had dug.
I did not want to kill the snake, since I am a tree-hugger. It was obviously very angry at me and coiled to strike. I tried numerous times to pick it up with the grabbers, but apparently, to my dismay, Cottonmouth snakes like to climb. This thing wanted a piece of me bad. I then decided to chase it away, into one of the many streams or ponds that are around the house. The snake was very adamant about getting around me and going back to that hole. It struck several times, hitting the grabbers with an impressive force. I now know why they are called Cottonmouths. Very white mouth. I jumped back, and the snake made quick move toward the house. I did not want the snake to get to the hole or the house, because right beside the hole, is the back garage door, which is broken (it is on my honey-do list) and has about a 2 inch area on the bottom that is wide open. I knew the cottonmouth could fit under this, and this is where he was heading. I have small children at home, and really don’t need large poisonous snakes in my garage or next to the house. The only thing I could think of doing was throwing the grabbers at the door, and hopefully scare the snake into a different direction. It worked, but the snake turned and started to climb up the electric outlet box. It got pretty high, and then I noticed the vent that goes into the attic. It is not that high, only a single story house. The snake was heading right for it. It then fell off the house, then started climbing again, straight for the vent. I ran to pick up the grabbers and noticed an old rusty machete lying on the ground. I don’t even know where it came from, since I have never bought a machete. I ran back to get the snake and all of sudden the snake falls, but falls on the other side of the fence, and has a straight shot for the front door. I hop over the fence and fall, then quickly notice that I am face to face with the beast. I did not hesitate swinging the machete with full force. My aim was true, and I hit the snake in the head. I then jumped up. I felt really bad, because I knew the snake was dying.
I stood there and watched over it for the next 30 minutes, while it tried to still bite me. I figured it must be in pain, so I swung again and put it out of its misery. I put it in a bag and had a proper burial. I still feel bad for killing it, but I guess this is what happens when humans start encroaching on wildlife. I will leave “The Jungle” for all beasts that wish to live there.