Warning: This column may have some dramatization.
You know those times in life in which something plays out seemingly in slow motion? You know, the times where you look back and see warning flags, but in reality, things happen too quickly to actually do anything about it?
So goes the story for my first Clean Stream experience this past weekend. I call this story “the snake biting incident.” Not me — my son.
You see, if I encounter a snake, I maybe scream and definitely move away. The only way I would get bit by a snake is if I stepped on one while it was fully camouflaged in the woods.
While volunteering for Clean Stream this Saturday, my team stopped to pick up trash from a big brush pile on the bank. The pile was huge and had collected a variety of bottles, a basketball, baseball bat and other trash. When my husband lifted a refrigerator door from the pile, there was a GIGANTIC black snake.
My husband’s first instinct is, of course, to grab it. You know how they say women are from Mars and men are from Jupiter, or whatever? This illustrates that, because my lovely husband’s second instinct is to hand said snake to our son, our only son.
To be fair . . . “he asked to hold it.”
I wasn’t near enough to hear their conversation, but I did see him hand off the serpent and my son explain “Ouch, it bit me” without putting the thing back down.
This pile of wood was a little precarious and rotted in spots, so there was no running to my injured son. Instead I start yelling, you know, did you really get bit? What’s the matter with you? Are you insane? And so on.
And also, I start panicking. I’m Googling snake bites, searching the Missouri Department of Conservation site for what to watch for, etc. This is in a three-minute time span. I remember yelling at him to put the snake down and to get off the pile. Teammates at the bottom of the pile were already gathering first aid supplies to clean and cover the wound.
I was lucky to be one of the only first-timers with a very experienced group of outdoorsmen and women, most of whom had been doing these things nearly as long as I’ve been alive.
They assured me there was nothing to worry about (they could easily ID the snake), dressed the wound and happily snapped photos as I gave my husband dirty looks and we took a lunch break.
Apparently, my husband did tell our son how to hold the snake, but in the instant he moved his hand a little, the snake was able to turn and bite him.
The exaggeration comes in likely in the severity of the bite. It wasn’t bad at all. There was no pain or swelling. To everyone involved, except me, it was like it didn’t even happen.
The good news is I learned all about the types of venomous snakes in Missouri, where they’re located, and what to watch for after “the incident.”
Snake fangs have a lot of bacteria, my son’s friend’s dad (who is a Scout leader) told me, so I have to watch the bite for a few days, but we’re in the clear.
Besides “the incident,” we had a great first Clean Stream experience.
I got to see giant, beautiful rock bluffs, smaller rock cairns (human-made stacks of stones), spend the day with my family and Kiwanis members canoeing on the river, listen to stories and help clean the stream.
At the end of our adventure, there was a group of river visitors who helped us unload our trash and load our canoes, which was welcome after a full day on the river.
All I have to say is thank goodness they didn’t find a copperhead and we’ll be ready next year for another river adventure.