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Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Garden

As my hero, Dick Pronneke, says in the PBS show, "Alone in the Wilderness"..., not much of a garden by Iowa standards. And it may not even rate as a garden by Texas standards. But I am brand new at this garden stuff. I'm a Rancher..., I ain't no Sod-Buster. Don Henry Ford Jr. inspired me to plant The Garden last year. Despite some life threatening experiences that happened back then..., I am trying it again.

If you have to ask about the .357 Colt Python that I carry..., you haven't heard thee story. This is what I wrote to Don last year..., admonishing him for his complete failure to warn me of the hazards involved.

Speaking of That Garden...,

you inspired me to plant. You could have warned me about hazards other than toil, sweat, and beers (to replace the sweat).

I will die of green mouth, the way many of my ancestors in Ireland did during the Great Potato Famine, before I will set foot in The Garden again. I mean, I planned The Garden as a life sustaining endeavor…, the sod-busting and planting of it produced a death wish on a day or two when the sweat was flowing like beer at a biker bash…, but last weekend I had one of those near death experiences that should be reserved for the movies…, or the Jerry Springer Show.

I was just trying to water The Garden. I stretched a hundred feet of garden hose out from The Barn and was proceeding along at a leisurely pace, with visions of baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, and French fries dancing in my head. When a 10 foot python danced out of a flake of hay practically under my feet. I know you'll say that we don't grow pythons in Washington State gardens…, but make and model aren't important or relevant here. And I refuse to look at a picture card line-up to try to identify the culprit. I don't know how many people reading this have ever tried to fight off a 15 foot python with nothing but a garden hose…, but I don't recommend it. Even with a fancy, high-powered spray nozzle attachment in place. The slimy bastard had me around one leg in no time flat. Then the other leg. Then around my waist, my chest. I fought valiantly…, though somewhat blindly. I can't stand to look at a picture of a snake…, let alone look one in the eye that's trying to eat me. Once he got me around the neck he really put the squeeze on…, and I thought I was done for. My life passed before my eyes…, and other things passed from my body. There was a terrible stench and everything went black.

I probably hadn't been lying on the ground long when my wife Julie found me there…, tied up in 100 feet of garden hose. That 20 foot python knew I wasn't dead…, and that evil bastard trussed and tied me up in that hose…, and left me there. I don't know if it was a male snake and he tied me up like that, then slithered off to get his buddies so he could brag about his capture…, and then let them in on the kill…, and the feast. Or, maybe it was a female and she needed to train her offspring to kill with some live bait? I won't bother to dwell on those possibilities…, or speculate on others. I was sure that Julie had somehow sensed that I was in mortal danger…, that famous women's intuition…, that bond between two people that is so strong that you experience the others' pain. But she denied that that was the case…, she said she heard the most horrendous bellering and screaming…, she said it sounded like a Sasquatch with its foot caught in a bear trap. I didn't know snakes could scream and beller. I certainly didn't hear anything like that. But then, often times when you are in a life or death struggle, some bodily functions shut down..., so that more life giving blood and oxygen can get to more important body parts. It seems logical to assume that my hearing and vision shut down during the struggle to survive. And I don't remember any of the details of the epic battle…, just the horror…, the horror. Not all bodily functions shut down…, some go into overdrive. I was glad the hose was still handy when Julie found me.

Continued in the comments section


  1. Julie is well aware of the extreme hate and loathing I have for snakes. Just thinking of snakes is sometimes enough to set me to shaking with anger and rage. She knows as well as I do, that there wouldn't be a snake left alive that ever crossed my path…, if the slimy bastards wouldn't slither off and disappear…, while I am running to get my gun. You know 'er…, just let me within 250 yards of any snake…, from a secure, snake-proof position…, and I can control the rage long enough to draw a bead on the serpent with my bull barrel Sako 22-.250 equipped with a 12x Nightforce scope. Yeah, give me that chance and that snake would be hiss-story. And those snakes know it too. They usually get one look at me and immediately identify me as a cold blooded snake killer…, and high tail it out of there…, just as fast as I head the other direction…, for my gun. But Julie hadn't figured out what had happened just yet. I knew this because she kept saying, "What happened?" Over and over…, and over. I was in such a rage that I couldn't speak. But I finally managed to stutter, "Sss…, sssss…, ssssnn…., ssssnnaa…".

    "SNAKE !!!!" she screamed.

    I nearly blacked out again..., and the hose came in handy again. She apologized between giggles…, and I knew the hysteria was almost upon her. Everybody reacts differently to stressful situations. Some laugh…, some cry. Julie is sometimes reduced to fits of maniacal, demented laughter when snakes are involved. She won’t admit it, but I know she is deathly afraid of snakes. She will often be frozen in fear at a snake sighting…, as I run for the gun. That’s usually when the hysterical laughter seizes her. She once remained frozen in fear by the side of the road for…, oh, a couple hours or so I guess. I didn’t hear the laughter that time…, I was too far down the road in the pickup already. I was in such an angered rage that I forgot that the gun was behind the seat of the pickup…, and not at home…, where I was headed to get it. Being paralyzed in fear of the snake, Julie couldn’t get in pickup soon enough. About a half an hour later and sixty miles or so down the road…, I remembered that the gun was behind the seat. I turned right around and rushed back to save her. She was still there after two hours…, frozen in fear at the side of the road. The demented laughter was gone…, but the poor girl was in such a state of shock that all she could do is stare straight ahead. She was so thoroughly traumatized…, by that snake sighting…, that she couldn’t speak…, to me…, for well over a month. So, she can try to explain the laughter away any way she wants…, I have seen the movies…, I know the sounds of laughter emitted by people who think they are facing imminent death. The evidence is irrefutable…, a slam dunk…, Julie is deathly afraid of snakes. I just hate and loath them with an unnatural passion.

    Anyway…, as I managed to get my voice back and explain how that 25 foot python had attacked me…, and tied me up with the hose…, Julie was having a fit of all fits. Rolling on the ground…, laughing in fear and anger at the audacity of that snake. I thought for a minute I was going to have to hose her down to bring her out of it…, but when I pointed that fancy, high-powered spray nozzle her way…, she gave me a snake-eyed stare…, that stopped me stone cold.

  2. I love this little story. Every time I read it I just love it more.


  3. It's even better with the gun photo.

  4. Ellenor..., many thanks for the comments and compliments. I was going to pose with my grandfather's old 30-30 Winchester..., but the Colt Python pistol fits a little better with the story.