I've always considered myself lucky.
Lots of years ago, Val and I were sitting in the tiny cabin where we first opened shop.
A darling little log cabin surrounded by gardens and fields.
Blooming flowers and trees... lilacs, currants, peonies and when the temperature and the sun connect in just the right way, morels.
On a lovely summer day, we were having our lunch chit chatting about this and that.
(Keep in mind that location does
mean everything, why we're no longer in
that location, and
why Val and I were both eating a leisurely lunch, not worried that someone would come in.)
For some reason, the conversation turned to things that scare us, or we might have a slight phobia about.
After the usual, spider/mouse/rubber band (oops that's another story)... snake
issues were brought out, I thought it was time to share with Val the reason I am absolutely petrified of snakes.
Growing up in Texas and spending lots of summer time with cousins and relatives in the Arkansas country side, I think I am quite justified.
Some might call me a snake magnet.
I never see them coming, I'm always on top of them when it's too late, and my high stepping is top notch.
Here's a tiny sampling:
- Seeing the tail of a rattler disappear under a sofa cushion ON the second floor.
- The dead ones in jars that the boys insisted on sneaking into school and would find totally amusing to take out and whip at us at recess.
- The rattlesnake on the front steps of my Grandmothers house that SHE chopped to bits and tossed aside
- The copperhead I never saw, but was tossed like a feather by my Granddad to the front steps, my Grandmother screaming for me to run
- The rattlesnake on the front steps of church as we go romping up those very steps.
Gag me with a spoon, I've got to stop now or I won't finish this story.
Let's move forward with the "lucky" part.
Val was very understanding of my fear, was almost
calming in the way she explained why she was not afraid of them, and to always keep in mind that there are NO poisonous snakes in the entire state of Wisconsin (did you know that?) Right, so the worst thing that could happen would to be bitten, nothing else.
At that exact moment
, I kid you not, a fat, four foot pine snake appeared on the floor slithering right in between the two of us.
In a split second I was in the parking lot with Val running for me squealing (or maybe that was me) until we were clinging to each other!
I screamed at her "I thought you weren't afraid of snakes!!!".
"Well I wasn't
until I saw you flying over the counter for the front door and your screaming made it fly at me with it's fangs looking for my blood!".
"Stay calm! Think!".
"OMG, OMG, OMG... we're out here and it's
You know that moment when you are panicked, panting, and your heart rate is waaay up, and it hits you that you are going to actually have to do
something about the situation?
That's when the mini van pulled into the parking lot.Now
We walked up to the driver's side (still clinging to each other) and the lady rolled down her window, looking a tad perplexed. We told her about the snake inside and she was as wide eyed as we were, ready to blow smoke to get out of our parking lot.
That's when (here's where the angels sing) her teen aged son said "I'll go in and take care of it".
At that moment I thanked God for puberty and testosterone.
Then the ten year old piped in as well, "I'll help!".
They were out of that van in a flash with their poor Mother panicked saying "I don't like this!".
I kept reassuring her that the worst that could happen would be to be bit as there are no poisonous snakes in Wisconsin (come on now, I was desperate).
I heard the young man ask where it was and that's when my brave Val went back into the building.
I could hear lots of bumping and someone shouting for a broom. All the while, me and the Mother of these boys clinging to each other outside.
(I pretty much clung to whoever was in reach)
Then the boy screamed, "Mom! Get to the back door and hold it open!".
She was shaking like a leaf, but knew her boys were in there, I
wasn't going to be of any help and she just had to do it. She was sooooo brave.
This woman grabbed the door, the boy yelled at her to get to the side of it and then
whoosh, whoosh, whoosh... out it came flying in a circular motion.
The Mother started screaming and high stepping towards me like Hitler himself had trained her.
When she grabbed me she yelled "Is it chasing me?!!!!".
This was the moment I doubled over laughing.
What energies were working in the universe that day that made this entire story come together, I will never know. The relief and hugs and telling and retelling of this story in that afternoon will never be forgotten.
I still think so fondly of Valerie and how brave she was. How she agreed that bringing my dog Chester to keep watch was a good idea, and how just days later we were ringing up a customer and saw a big rat crawl down the wall behind her while we kept our calm until she was in her car.
All these years later, with Valerie in Tucson and me in a much better location Viva is still moving along. I miss Valerie a lot, but we are in contact. It's rare that this story doesn't come up in our conversation, and I hope she enjoys reading it here.
See? I told you I was lucky.