As of yesterday, all wandering travelers had returned home and I’m once again responsible only for my little slice of heaven. Which means I got 5, count ’em 5! hours in on my own projects today before the sun drove me indoors to the cool shadows of my home.
My home was built in 1913 – so sometime this year, I shall officially live in a 100 year-old home. Those homes built long ago sure stay cooler than their modern counterparts!
I was sitting taking a break and pondering whether to do just a tad more or be good to my body and scoot indoors when Mr. Phillips 66 drove by, waved, slowed and pulled over near my place. I pulled out a stool and called out, offering lemon water, since last time I led him down the path of temptation by offering a beer. You remember him, right? Ran the gas station of my childhood and gardener extraordinaire.
He didn’t have time to stay and chat he said, but he did want to know if I’d ever seen a snakeskin.
Which I have – plenty of times during my youth and I even got to watch the shedding process once while visiting the zoo.
He reached to open his back passenger door, and I stepped back – about 10 feet –
“You don’t have a real snake in there, do ya?”
Laughing, he assured me that he didn’t, but he had never seen a completely whole snakeskin before (in his 85+ years, as he put it) and he had found not one, but two in the past week.
“Where at?” I asked, somewhat afraid of the answer…
“The cemetery.” Oh… Guess there was a reason I haven’t been visiting as often as I should…
Apparently, he had showed the skins to one neighbor lady already, who was not very knowledgeable about the subject, but eager to learn. When she asked him how he got them, he told her,
“Well, I had a hold of ’em, but they just slipped right outta their skins to get away from me. And wouldn’t ya know, she said, “Oh My! That must have been exciting!”
I laughed and asked him if he sent her snipe hunting after he had finished telling her his tall tale. He grinned and said ‘No…”
After snapping some pics of the snake skins, Mr. Phillips 66 set about sharing some stories. While I didn’t record the stories, I will do my best to tell you as they were told to me…
“I had killed plenty of snakes in my youth, mainly rattlers I came across from working the cattle, you know. One year we went on over to Pueblo for the State Fair. It was during the war, you know and I saw a tent with a sign, “Hitler’s Children” and since it didn’t cost much, I went in to see what it was all about. There was this big plastic ring in the middle of the tent, with two women that looked to be from India and a whole mess of snakes. And they was a pickin’ em up and holdin’ them and it liked to make the hairs on the back of my neck crawl.
Well, they almost got themselves into trouble. One of them was holding a rope about yea long and she flipped that rope over and it landed across my neck and I liked to wrecked the whole tent trying to get outta there.”
Then I shared a snake story, which isn’t near as good and then he countered with:
“When I was running the station, one day E.M stopped by and asked me to check the oil, and check under the hood. I was stumped as to why he’d ask me to do such simple things as he and his brother took care of all the maintenance of their farm equipment and were probably better mechanics than I ever was.
Turns out, E.M. and his brother had found an ole bull snake and had messed with it, teasing it, seein’ as how it wasn’t poisonous. But it had crawled up onto the chassis of the truck and they couldn’t get it outta there.
While I’m checking the oil and messin’ with his truck, in pulls a carload of gals from New York City. In them days, the ladies room was accessed by a door over there, back on the east side. Well they all piled out and started headin’ toward the ladies room, just about the time that snake, ticked off over his long ride (E.M. had driven all the way in from H’s place with that durn snake in his chassis.) decided to bail from the truck.
He hit the ground and beat his way straight for that group of ladies. His head was nearly a foot off the ground and he was movin’ like lightening.
Well, I tell you, I’ve never heard so much screaming and carrying on in my life. Them gals liked to kilt each other trying to get outta the way of that big bull snake.
And I don’t think there was any need for the ladies room after that commotion, neither…”
These are the kinds of things that make me so grateful for the life I have. I’ve missed having neighbors stop by and tell me stories. I’ve missed having drop in’s that are happy to sit or stand in the yard and chew the fat for awhile, rather than those who make you wish you had done less landscaping and more housecleaning.
The morning has passed – I’m into rest mode and I have a spot all cleaned up and ready to transplant the extra blue flax, pretty-purple-wildflower (yes, I forgot the name) and spearmint Mom’s wanting to rip out of her symmetrically designed flower bed. The cactus is getting ready to bloom and the sunflowers planted last week have poked their way out of the ground.
It’s been a wonderful day.