One of my favorite stories that my Dad used to tell is about the day that he was weed-whacking the long grass in between the cottage and the lake, and uncovered a snake. My Dad looked a lot like Clark Kent in his youth, and had therefore been nicknamed by some as Superman. However, his single weakness is not the presence of an other-worldly green rock. More like Indiana, he may have been able to leap across moving train cars in a single bound, but he cannot abide snakes.
He also loves to golf. When I was a kid I remember watching him as he used his weed-whacker to practice his golf swing. This may bring up a strange image for some, so let me explain. He did not have one of the gas powered, bladed or nylon-stringed devices; his was an old-fashioned model with a long wood handle like a rake and a single long metal blade attached to the end at a right angle, serrated on either side. He would work his way through the yard methodically swinging and snapping his hips, perhaps pretending to watch a little white ball sail off into the horizon.
Imagine his surprise, therefore, when, after a particularly fine follow-through something did fly up into the air.
It was not a little white ball, but a long, slender snake.
I imagine my Dad watching in horrified fascination as the snake arced up and landed in the grass near his foot. He recognized immediately that it was a gardener snake, so maybe in an attempt to conquer his fear, or just to move the thing out of his way, he reached down and picked it up.
The snake turned and bit him.
Putting this story down on paper is a disservice really, because at this point in the telling, my Dad would act out his attempt to shake the snake off of his arm. He would jump around the room, flailing, just as he must have danced around the yard then, but the snake would not let go.
Finally tired of being thrown and picked up and then shaken within an inch of its life, the snake did fall back to the ground.
Veins still coursing with adrenaline, my Dad abandoned his smooth, fluid golfer’s swing and gripped the weed-whacker like a machete. He chopped the offending creature in half and back away.
I’m quite certain that he did not tee off in the long grass again on that fine day.