It is one of those August days when the living forest begins to close in on the cabin. The spider and praying mantis hang to the front screen trying to escape the growing mouth of the florescent blue skink lying in wait hanging from a log above. Mother doe and her twins circle the neighborhood feeding on the greenest of green careful to avoid the renters who in their excitement forget that the speed limit is 15 MPH for a reason and thus miss the teaming life around them. I have my limits with this ecological and environmental cacophony.
The first summer at the cabin, before the renovations began, I was visited by a friendly black snake who lived above the ceiling in the kitchen and bathroom. He crawled down the corner of the cabin and joined me for dinner on the back deck. “Hold on there buddy” I asked so I could get my camera. He did. Then he slithered on down and out into the forest. I would later learn when we added a new roof he had been killing all sorts of forest life–rats and possum–trying to invade his space and mine.
I grew accustomed to reptiles while living in Africa. Black mambas coiled in a ceramic toilet or draped in the entrance to an outhouse and even the deadly puff adder living in my carport. There was only one thing to do.
Yesterday Vickie and I were clearing discarded lumber near the rock wall next to the new barn. She reached down and picked up a 2×4 and out slithered a fairly mature copperhead. They ran in opposite directions–Vickie to the porch and Mr. Copperhead to the rock wall. And I ran to the bedroom where I retrieved The Judge.
It took me and my garden hoe considerable effort to dismantle the heavy stones, some rolling down the hill. There he was waiting for me and swift justice from The Judge.
Now before you get riled up about the taking of this life, I care more for the life of my lovely wife and that of my companion dogson, Zulu. “You are welcome to live in the woods, but not in my yard.” I shout out to Mr. Copperhead and his kin. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last that we have this “conversation”.