Off-the-wallBy Bob Spiwak

Saturday afternoon. I was in my workshop banging away, metal on metal, when in a pause I hear Ms. Gloria calling to me. I could not discern what she was wanting so I opened the door and politely yelled “what?” She responded again and I advised her that I could not make out what she was saying.  Walking a few steps closer it came to me that she had seen our first rattlesnake of the season in her burgeoning strawberry patch against the front of the house.

I had a hard time hearing her because she is very soft spoken, as anyone who has met her can attest. This propensity is fine for domestic disagreements, a benefit for loud-mouthed persons like her husband, but a few more decibels with a rattler a foot away would have been in order.

I walked over and squinted to where she pointed out the coiled, albeit quiet, serpent. I could not spot it among the berry bushes, so she gave me a line of sight and I saw the coils, but could not make out how big the thing was. As I could not see the business end of the creature, I said I would have to get the .38 with snake loads (BB shot). But as I leaned over, my shadow encompassed the coils, which then began to unravel in the direction of the small porch, less that a foot away.

The next best thing I could do at the moment was to watch it slither away and hope that the dog, a virgin to venom, would not try to intercept it. The next step was to the fridge to grab a beer. Meditating over the delightfully warm day, it occurred to me (someone who once aspired to be a herpetologist) that the snakes were immensely sensitive to scents. I finished off the brew after coming up with a way to get rid of the critter.

My Great Plan was to stink it out of its position hidden under the porch. My choice of stinks was a can of bathroom “freshener,” which after one use long ago convinced me that it smelled worse that that for which it was designed.

On my knees, I began to spray into the cracks on the porch deck. This lasted for about two spritzes and then the can would only discharge if held upright. This was getting frustrating and my beer was going flat, so I removed to my workshop and scanned the shelf. I came upon the greatest wonder of the 20th century — WD-40.  I resumed the snake-removal operation.

Self-satisfied, I finished the beer and decided to write this.

Only a few days ago at SLIME, we talked about snakes and I noted that we had not seen a rattler on the property for three years. Prior to that, we had one coiled up in a tire in our greenhouse, one in the parking area, and one stretched across a path next to the house. If Mary Rea had not grabbed me and pulled me back I would have stepped on it.

My son, when he was about 12, caught one with the neighbor boys on Grizzly Mountain. We took it home to Everett and skinned it as a dozen or more kids gathered at the kitchen window to watch the Spiwaks eat rattlesnake.

And yes, they do taste like chicken.