One of the great things about having kids, and having your parents still in the house in which you grew up, is that you get to relive the experiences you had growing up. Preferably they would be only the good experiences, the ones you want to relive.
This past Saturday, my brother had his kids and my kids down by my parents’ pond. He found a garter snake and pointed it out to the children. It was about a foot and a half long, maybe two feet.
I have many memories of chasing and catching garter snakes during springs and summers. I thought I would try to relive my glory days of snake catching. Those days must have been 20-25 years ago. So my brother and I chased it through the grass. The snake must not have had anywhere to go, because he didn’t hide very well and didn’t go very far. I grabbed for him a few times, but my skills were a little rusty. I missed those few times, always hitting just where the tail had just been.
I decided that I needed to aim closer to his head, leading a little bit so that I wouldn’t miss again. But I also wanted both hands free so that I could quickly grab his head once I caught his body. That’s the easiest way to avoid being bitten. I was carrying the infant in one arm, so I handed him over to my brother so that I could have both arms free to catch the snake. Surprisingly, I caught the snake on the next attempt.
It is a lot easier chasing snakes without having to worry about dropping a 2-month-old child.
I held the snake just behind his head. Sure enough, he started twisting his head around, with his mouth open and fangs bared. He tried that only twice and then realized it was futile. But he also was writhing his body. You want to hold the flailing body away from you, at arm’s length, because the snake will usually start emptying his digestive system. And you don’t want that to get all over you.
We took the snake over to the other children, and they were interested for a little bit. They touched it, but no one wanted to hold it. Then it was dinner time, so I let the snake go back in the grass. I assume there’s no license required for catch-and-release for snakes.
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?”
– Luke 11:11