Naptime has settled all over this place. Our last napper, Olivia, is about half-way into her afternoon siesta. If the other little noisemakers around the house can maintain a near silent atmosphere in our home for the next hour than the possibility will be good that the little princess will wake up at the appropriate time. Should that happen, our chances of a stormy evening will have hopefully dissipated.
My brain seems to be coming out of its afternoon fog, shocked back into play by my first and now second delightful cups of coffee. Speaking of fog, the day started out foggy and cool early this morning as our first official weekend of fall had arrived. It certainly felt as though it were fall out there as I had started the day pondering on the porch swing as to what I could accomplish with this wide open block of time I’d been blessed with—I suppose weed-eating and mowing would be at the top of the list.
Before I struck out to the great outdoors though, I would need to put some food down my gullet, but there were five little chicks lined up in the kitchen to have their gullets filled first. To satisfy their longing for sustenance, I whipped them up a quick batch of chocolate gravy and biscuits. This made them quite happy and satisfied them long enough for Katrina and I to throw together some pancakes and bacon, which we enjoyed in the cool of the morning on the front porch.
Now that I was loaded with calories, I charged off to begin trimming the weeds on our hillside. Equipped with my weed-eater and some extra line for it, I gassed it up and was ready to get to work. The whirling machine, however, had something else in mind. I cranked and cranked, which was unusual, since it usually starts right up. After several rounds of choking, false starts, and cranking, I reluctantly concluded that something was going to have to be cleaned or fixed. Darn!
Being the world’s worst small engine mechanic, I did a couple of the first couple of things an ignorant mechanic usually does—check the spark plug and clean the air filter. Neither of these seemed to show any alarming signs of corrosion, but nonetheless, I wiped them clean and assembled them back together. I then commenced to cranking the beast and got the same results as before. It ran a little, but seemed to have something in its throat. My next suspicion was the gas, so I put some of the same gas in the leaf blower and it worked fine. I then pulled the carburetor apart, wiped it out a little, assembled it all back together, and got the same results.
I was now faced with a dilemma; I had to either go buy a weed-eater or abandon the current project and move onto other things and deal with the weeds later. Knowing that the sprigs growing around our place were not in dire condition, I chose the latter. The decision to fix or replace my sick yard tool would have to wait for another day.
Now that I had already fired up the leaf blower and gotten it warmed up I decided to do a little pre-fall leaf blowing. Living in the heart of the woods provides a never-ending, year-round supply of leaves. We had had a thick layer of them piled up against our back fence from the last season or two, so I began clearing a wide path, blowing them further into the woods on the neighboring empty lot. This started out easy, but certainly made for a busy chore, and the more I blew, the more the helpers showed up on the scene to pitch in and help the work crew.
First on the scene was Joshua. He is always ready and willing to get out and work with Daddy on Saturday. Even if he does not do much at his young age, he just likes to hang out with Dad. As I was blowing the leaves and exposing the rich soil on the forest floor, I saw the movement of a wriggling creature that I had awakened. I quickly discovered that it was a small brown snake. As I trapped him under the heel of my foot, I sent Joshua a short distance away to retrieve the end of his toy metal hoe that was nearby in the yard.
Joshua quickly returned, and as I removed my foot from the varmint, I introduced him to the edge of the blade. Making quick work of that, I handed the tool back to Joshua and cranked up the leaf blower again, gaining a new respect for what I might be uncovering under the old leaf bed. Thinking back, I remembered that I had discovered at least two snakes like this back in the spring when we were cleaning out our ditch out front.
With leaves flying through the air and Joshua piling sticks, we were covering some good ground (or shall I say uncovering some good ground!). I had been wondering if we would see any more snakes, and soon my suspicion was substantiated. Sure enough, snake number two appeared as the leaves were blown aside. Knowing what to do, I sent Joshua after the hoe blade again, and he quickly returned. The second snake was about the same size as the first, but a little feistier. He puffed his body up and struck at the blade a time or two, but I quickly gave him the same medicine I had given his nearby buddy and that was the end of that.
Every time I have a snake encounter I can’t help but think of the following passage:
“So the LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’” Genesis 3:14-15 NIV
As the leaf blowing continued we made our way up the hill and finished the job at hand by lunchtime. Fortunately, the only other wriggling creatures seen for the rest of the day were a few different types of worms. The girls were quite happy that I had cleared them a path to the large rock on the hill on the backside of our property.
Looking down the hill at the front yard and seeing the sparse gathering of pre-fall leaves brought me a brief twinge of satisfaction, but I knew with certainty that the trees would soon relinquish their foliage and I would be at it again. Hopefully, by that time, cooler weather will have arrived and the snakes will have hibernated.
Written by David Steen, with God Smiling, September 25, 2010.