I visited my Mother, a very special lady, last Saturday morning. This is a ritual and years ago I would have expected a huge breakfast of grits, eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, biscuits, waffles or pancakes. I mean a feast, brother. This was standard fare for many years but time has taken its toll on all of us. I do not require such nourishment now for if I ate like that at my age I would weigh 400 pounds and Mother is no longer physically able to do the things she used to do. Make no mistake, if she gets it in her mind, she can still issue commands and you darn well better snap to it when she cracks her whip. She will be 88 this November and she is still a beautiful lady. I got my good looks from her side of the family.
While visiting Mother this particular morning, I looked out the window and saw a rat under her bird feeder and mentioned the fact. Mother jumped up shouting, “I already shot at that saspsucker twice and missed. Take my rifle and see if you can hit him.” I told you she is a special lady.
After my visit, I returned to my home, The Still, and started picking up limbs and junk in the yard. I was accompanied by Fox, the chocolate Lab, and Jigabells, the mutt. While busy with my chores, I heard Jigabells after something and I could tell by her bark it was not a squirrel. I looked and saw she had cornered Hiss, the huge Indigo snake that lives at our house and Hiss hates Jigabells. The first time Jigabells came across Hiss, the snake raised herself up about two feet in the air and blew an evil hiss (hence the name) which scared the mess out of the mutt who will now only bark from a safe distance. Fox and Hiss have come to an understanding and neither pays the other any attention but Jigabells thinks it is her duty to corner the huge snake and wait for me to come kill it, which I would not dream of doing.
I am amazed how quickly the varmints around here learn things. Hiss has learned that whenever Jigabells starts after her all she has to do is slither through the wire surrounding the herb garden or around the dog pen and she is safe from harm. She patiently waits for me to ‘call off the dogs’ and then goes about her business of ridding our place of rats, toads, and other snakes. Yes, she will kill and eat other snakes, even Cottonmouths and rattlesnakes.
Cottonmouths occasionally come up from the lake and Diamondback rattlers come from the adjoining woodlands to hunt toads and mice under the yard light and under the carport. I am careful when walking outside after dark and I do wish that Hiss would find some other place to spring her nightly ambush other than right where I step off the back doorstep. Even though I know her by name and know she is harmless, it still makes my heart skip a beat to see that huge black body move next to my feet.
Spring will soon be here and Hiss, who winters under my house next to the chimney in an abandoned armadillo burrow, has emerged and little ‘gopher’ snakes will appear soon. They will all take their place at Vickers Still and be able to live in peace, to learn about Jigabells, and to eat other snakes.