When it started, I thought I’d have a funny story to tell. But when it ended, the story was sad.

It was Saturday and my mom stopped by to bring me an old bowl from her house that I wanted because it matched a pitcher I keep flowers in on my table. I went out to get it, went back in and sat it in the house and was heading back out the door for a little yard visit. As I was about to step out the front door I looked down to notice that a snake was about to crawl in. He was just peeping his little head in as if to say “Hello neighbors. Anybody home?”

I said, “Michael, come here. There’s a snake about to get in the house.”

He sprang into action, arming himself with a shot gun.

The commotion caused the snake to back away, so I stepped out on the porch to further assess the situation. Immediately I knew this was not a dangerous snake. You can tell by their faces, and his was skinny.

Michael came out, ready for an assault. The snake crawled up the brick a little. He then hid himself away in the back of an old church pew that sits on our front porch. Mama, who was watching from the yard said it looked like it had diamonds on its back, but it wouldn’t have been much a rattle snake with no rattles. All this one had was a stringy old tail.

It was just a chicken snake or something. Likely he was the culprit who had made a big mess of my pot of pansies earlier in the week.

Michael pushed the pew off the porch still determined to do in my little porch pet. He’s one of those people who thinks the only good snake is a dead snake, and I personally despise that line of thinking. I think it’s important to coexist with things the best we can. There’s a red wasp who has built above my back door and I’m trying my hardest even to get along with him. As long as he doesn’t bother me, I’ll try not to bother him.

Anyway, there are lots of good snakes who are better off left alive, and the one on my porch was one of them. I liked him from the instant he poked his head inside the door. And then, as he was semi-coiled there in the church pew, the part where hymnals go, he stuck his head out. The boy ran through the yard playing, not paying to much attention to the excitement of a front porch snake, and the snake watched him and followed him with his eyes. I wondered if that snake hadn’t been hiding there on the porch with us, enjoying our company and watching us for a while.

Determined that the snake would not die, I went for my garden hoe, but then remembered that I don’t have any experience in handling snakes so I called my nephew Riley, who is not afraid of slithering creatures.

He came over and got the snake up. It was quite long.

The plan was that he would take him somewhere and let him go. I didn’t mind the snake hanging around, but thought it might not be best to have him on the front porch since I have two kids and we sit out there a lot.

I thought the snake was saved and I was happy about that. But then the poor thing crawled in some part of my nephew’s truck and he tried to pull him out and pulled too hard and killed him accidentally. 

What a waste. I wish I had never even mentioned the snake was there and maybe he would have gone away and no one would have been the wiser and he’d still be alive. I was proud to hear my nephew say to the snake, “I’m sorry buddy, you didn’t deserve that.” I guess it was just his day to die, unfortunately.

You might think it’s silly to be bothered by the death of a snake you tried to save, but non-venomous snakes are wonderful and helpful little creatures. They eat rats and some of them even eat venomous snakes. We should consider them friends, and educate ourselves on how to identify them instead of being so overbearing that we kill them all just because we don’t like their looks and we are big and they are small. Humans are unfair that way about a lot of things. And I don’t like it.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at danielle.w.kirkland@gmail.com.

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