Every summer my kids and I, along with my two sisters, niece, nephews and mom descend upon a little town in West Texas. My aunt and uncle live there and their property has a river running through it. We have been going for the past 13 years only missing one or two summers.
This gives us a chance to get away and relax, swim, play and catch up with each other. The dads all stay home and usually go fishing and relax in their own way. This allows everyone a break, the kids to be loud, the boys a chance to throw rocks (boys can’t get near a river front full of rocks and not throw them), me to cease being a caregiver for a couple of days and my husband a chance to relax and spend time with his brother and parents.
Out in this area the land is dry, the air is dry and there is little rain. Interestingly it rains every time we go, at least a little bit. There’s a plethora of wild animals to see. In this area there are white tailed deer, axis deer, wild turkeys and wild hogs (Don’t get me started on the hogs…. there is a year of the hog story for later). Also, there are a lot of creepy crawly creatures, tarantulas and rattle snakes.
Adventure is lurking
Each year there is some kind of event. We end up naming the trip the year of ___. This particular year was the year of the snake. It was a few years back but the kids still talk about it. There had been a lot of snakes around. My aunt warned us to stay away from certain areas of the property because there were a lot of snake skins found in those areas. We heeded her warning. None of us want to see a snake that is not behind glass at the zoo! Well, I got too see one UP CLOSE, way closer than I ever wanted too.
It was dark, time for the adults to head to bed. All the kids were in bed, although they were probably not all asleep. I was staying in a little travel trailer on the property with my children while the rest of the crew (minus my mother) stay in a little mobile home that is about 20 feet away from the travel trailer. There is a screened in porch attached to the mobile home.
What’s that sound????
It is dark out, I leave the porch to go to my trailer. The lights outside have just been turned out. I step out of the door and here a funny sound. It’s not a sound I really recognize. I nonchalantly turn my flashlight on my phone to the area of the sound (no clue what I was about to see) and THERE IT IS!!!!!. About 5 feet from me is a rattlesnake, coiled and in position to strike!
Frozen, I quietly yell (if there is such a thing) to my sisters to turn on the light. I don’t really know what to do. Do I move? Do I stay standing still? Will it strike at me if I move? Will it strike at me if I don’t move? I decide I’m better off if I slowly move back through the door onto the porch. I made it, my heart racing the whole time!
Frantically we call my uncle to come down take care of the snake. We are all a little panic-stricken at this point, what do we do, how was I not bitten? The kids are all up by this point gawking at the snake from a safe distance on the porch. My children are trying to peek out of the little trailer but can’t see and have been told to stay back.
My uncle comes down with his shot gun and BLASTS the snake! All the kids are watching in awe. I get to keep the rattle as proof of my experience. Needless to say no one went to sleep for a while!
Every year from there on out the lights are left on until I get to my trailer; I use my flashlight to survey the area before I start walking outside in the dark. The sound of a rattler is now etched into my brain. I will never forget it. We had a great time despite the snake and we all came back refreshed and looking forward to what the next year would hold for us.