Life With Ferris: Snakes

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - by Ferris Robinson
Ferris Robinson
Ferris Robinson

“I’m afraid of all snakes, and some sticks,” my friend Margaret says. 

I thought this was a funny expression until I ran head-on into a copperhead last summer. Literally. 

My husband was walking ahead of me on a popular hiking trail and our two dogs were racing pell-mell through the woods. I just happened to look up at a tree limb hanging over the path and noticed a thick, brown snake coiled on the branch. The same branch my husband brushed by a moment before, mere inches from the snake. 

I yelled at him to stop. Then I commanded him to stay. I spoke firmly, in the same tone I use with my dogs.  

Ignoring me, he took another step toward me and I pointed at the snake, still wrapped around the branch. He quickly took a step backwards. 

The snake had a brown and tan pattern on its back, and from my post three yards away, I detected an angular, arrow-shaped head. I knew I could tell if it was poisonous or not by the shape of its pupils. Poisonous snakes have elliptical pupils; nonpoisonous snakes have round pupils. But I wasn’t looking for the whites of the eyes. 

However, I know what an arrow looks like, and that copperhead’s neck jutted out and ended in a terrible point. 

I took a picture with my cell phone, but you can barely make out the reptile because I’m so far away. I extended my arm straight, leaned as far away from my phone as possible and pulsed my thumb rapidly, hoping I’d hit the shutter button.

The snake never moved. 

I didn’t know snakes climbed trees, although I’d heard horror stories about people tubing down the river and snakes falling out of trees right on top of their heads. This actually happened to my friend, Elizabeth Duff Woods. She was in a canoe going down the Hiawassee and one dropped down right between her legs and immediately crawled back under the big chunk of Styrofoam in the back of the boat. They bailed, screeching and panicking, right into the icy water, fearful that snake and more were writhing around right under them.

This is probably a universal fear: a snake free-falling on top of your body, getting trapped between your knees or tangled in your hair.  

If my husband and I had been walking side by side, one of use would have bumped shoulders with the poisonous reptile, forcing the serpent to strike us, probably right in the temple. 

Just a few days later, I saw a huge thick grey snake coiled in the middle of the road. I could see his triangular-shaped head clearly as I drove past. A few yards away, there was a group of children selling lemonade, and I turned my car around, intending to run it over. Instead I stopped in the middle of the road, right by the snake to contemplate killing him. He raised his head and struck my tires viciously, over and over, until I drove away. 

I stayed away from the trails for a few weeks. Margaret would only walk with me on the main road, which suited me fine. I didn’t tell her this was the same road where the rattlesnake had attacked my car. We walked smack dab in the middle of the road, barely moving out of the way of cars, both of us scouting for snakes.

Both of my dogs have been bitten by poisonous snakes. I actually saw the last snake stretched out on the road, but I thought it was a fat stick. The big dog ran toward it, then recoiled as soon as the snake readied itself to strike. The little dog, who can’t see well, charged right into the snake and it struck him right in the eye. I poked a Benedryl down my dog’s throat then flew to the vet. He survived, but he almost didn’t. 

I keep him on a leash now but I don’t really need one. He stays right by my side, and I stay right by his. And the only walking we do is in the yard.

(Ferris Robinson can be contacted at ferrisrobinson@gmail.com.  www.ferrisrobinson.com)

Junior Achievement Pins And Pirates Bowl-A-Thon Is Aug. 18-20

The 2017 Pins and Pirates Bowl-A-Thon to benefit Junior Achievement is Aug. 18-20 at Spare Time Entertainment in Hixson.  This event includes costume and hula hoop contests as well as trivia, Frito Lay Wacky Pin Scramble, and a photo booth.  Each member of a team will receive a Pins and Pirates T-shirt to accompany their two games of bowling at the event.   ... (click for more)

ShapeShifter Gallery Has Opening At Apothecary Gallery

ShapeShifter Gallery will have its opening at Apothecary Gallery on July 7 during First Friday.  Apothecary Gallery is at 744 McCallie Ave., on the corner of Palmetto and McCallie. The show and reception will last from 5-9 p.m. Artist Carina Pearson will be present.  Review for ShapeShifter Gallery: This show explores the feminine psyche. Examining emotions ... (click for more)

County Commission May Amend Resolution Dealing With 501(c)(3)s; Humane Society Says It Won't Comply

The County Commission may amend a resolution it passed that would put a member of the commission on the board of the 501(c)(3)s that receive over 25 percent of their funding from the county. It would also require the agencies to follow county purchasing, travel and expense policies. After the measure was passed 6-3, the county got a letter from the Humane Education Society ... (click for more)

Walker County Taking Out Another Loan To Deal With Debts Left By Bebe Heiskell Administration

Walker County officials said they are having to take out another loan to deal with debts left by the Bebe Heiskell administration. Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has called a special meeting for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the commissioner's office in Lafayette. The agenda includes a $4 million tax anticipation note from Lafayette Bank, which stepped in to help the new administration ... (click for more)

CPS Should Have A Manned 24/7 Presence In Every County

This week something became abundantly clear to me. The Department of Child Protective Services in the state of Tennessee, or at least in Hamilton County, are asleep at the wheel.   Early yesterday afternoon local news stations broke the news: "Animals Removed from Soddy Daisy Home."  What the news station either didn't know, or didn't report, was that the children of ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Heroes Gather On July 14

Oliver North, whose journey as American patriot has not been an easy one, never lost hope. He once admitted he lied to Congress under oath, was found guilty of three felony counts after he followed the direct orders of his superiors, and then endured the wrath of the ignorant before the ACLU – of all sources – had the charges vacated. The former Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps ... (click for more)