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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Frogs, and Snakes and Ticks -- OH MY!

People ask me all the time how North Carolina differs from California. I intend to do a lengthy post about this soon. But the most relevant difference, at this exact moment, is critters! Right now I feel as though I am living in a tropical rain forest. Last night we had an impressive storm. There was maybe half an inch of rain, but the thunder and lightning was epic. I actually got out of bed at 1:00 am to watch the lightning. I am secure enough to admit that I was watching half out of curiosity and half out of fear (of course Pat was out of town!). Anything that makes that much noise (the windows were lightly rattling) seems as though it could be dangerous! I only mention the storm because the inevitable by-product of the storm is frogs. Soon after the rain ceases a veritable orchestra begins. One frog begins with a tenuous chirp and in a matter of minutes the woods around our house is filled with the cacauphonous croaking and chirping of what sounds like at least a thousand frogs. Apparently, the increase in water makes conditions suitable for breeding so the males croak to attract female frogs for mating. Female frogs think croaking is very sexy. I think the croaking is very LOUD.

When we first arrived I envisioned the kids frolicking in the shallow creek behind the house. I fantasized about the hours they would spend with nets scooping frogs, and toads and minnows. I now know that what we have really moved into is a giant, all-you-can-eat buffet for SNAKES! It seems that snakes just adore eating frogs. I wonder if the frogs would just mate a little bit more quietly if the snakes wouldn't know they were there...

So this morning I go down to check the pool. I know that I need to check the two skimmer baskets, but I am honestly scared to death. The frogs were out in force last night. I am assuming all of the snakes within a 10 mile radius heard the ruckus, and that can only mean that the buffet is stocked and open for business. Before I detail the events of this morning let me share the source of my trepidatation in checking the skimmer baskets.

Our pool has been complete for about a month. Since then I have pulled the following out of the pool:

-More frogs than I can count
-The biggest spider that I have EVER seen in my life
-1 blue tailed lizard or salamander-type thing
-TWO snakes

I am fine with everything except for the snakes. The first snake I removed was from the skimmer basket. The kids were enjoying a Saturday swim, and, looking for something to keep myself busy, I thought I would clean the skimmer baskets. I opened the cover of the first skimmer to find a cute little frog literally swimming for his life. I really do love those frogs so I quickly stuck my hand in there to get the tiny guy out. As I dipped my hand into the basket to retrieve my friend in need I saw the silvery flash of what could only be the underbelly of a snake. In an effort not to scare the snot out of my children and frighten them away from our brand new pool for all of eternity ('cuz a slightly psychotic, screaming mommy can actually do this 'ya know!) I actually didn't scream, and in fact acted like a rational, mildly intelligent human being (who can remove her hand at LIGHTNING SPEED from a skimmer basket). While the girls went off to care for their new pet, I managed to remove the basket from the pool with a swim noodle. This is much trickier than it sounds. Anyway, the snake had actually drowned. This was good news for both of us. I fished him out and looked him up online, and figured out he is a harmless little ringneck snake.

Here is the little frog that I saved. Aren't they tiny!?

The second snake was found while Pat was showing me how to vaccuum the bottom of the pool. Pat was down on his knees with both of his arms in the pool, and I wasn't paying too much attention. As I turned to check on his progress I see a snake slithering across the surface of the water heading straight for Pat. I immediately jumped into action. I yelled, "SNAKE!" at the top of my lungs while simultaneously grabbing Pat by the collar of his shirt, and yanking him backwards with all of my might. I like to think that I saved Pat's life. Pat would tell you that I nearly strangled him yanking on his shirt like that, and that all of my hollering nearly gave him a heart attack. I should also mention that the snake was not venomous and was all of maybe 6 inches long. I will always remeber it as the day I saved my husband's life. It sounds better that way!

That brings us back to today. The buffet is open. I headed down to the pool with what I can only describe as trepidation. Here is the situation. In order to get the lid off of the skimmer basket you have to stick your finger into a hole on the lid so that you can pull it off. Of course you can't see through the lid to see if any unwanted visitors are in there with your finger. So essentially you are sticking your top two knuckles into a black hole with God-only-knows-what waiting to have a go your defenseless finger. As long as the pool pump is on it creates a bit of a whirlpool in the skimmer basket. It would probably be difficult for the snake to overcome that current and reach up to get me, but still! Stranger things have happened!

So this morning I tried everything before actually removing the lid. I tried sticking my eye right up to the hole to see if I could spot anything. Of course when you push your face up to the hole like that light can't get in, thus making it impossible to see. So I tried to pry the lid off with a stick, but the stick broke. I tried the handle of a rake, but it was too straight and the lid kept crashing down before I could see anything. At this point I have wasted a good 20 minutes dancing around the skimmer basket and accomplishing nothing. I am feeling more than a little silly at this point so I decide to just stick my finger in there and hope for the best. Well the second I got my finger into that hole there was an ear splitting screech from some sort of construction going on across the street. I don't normally consider myself to be all that jumpy, but the timing was really horrible! I flung the solid brass lid to the skimmer about 20 feet in the air above my head, and then had to duck and cover to avoid getting whacked by it as it returned to Earth. At this point I am on my back in the wet grass, fairly soggy, a brass skimmer cover laying roughly two feet from my head and feeling like a huge idiot.... until I peered into the skimmer to find snake #3! This is not the actual snake. The actual snake was dead... again. But still.....


Anonymous said...

Ok, so I read this this morning, and I again read it to make sure my memory served me right. I can't believe you have to contend with snakes!! Crazy! I will take moose any day, although I would have LOVED to see the top fly in the air with you hopping around trying not to get bonked! Ha! Love ya~Michelle

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