The day Daddy brought home a rattlesnake and other north woods stories

Welcome to story hour, kids.

Today I have three short stories to share with you, accompanied by three photographs depicting the True nature of these north woods tales.

The first story shall be:  The day Baby and I went in the ditch.  (This is not a new story.  You’ve heard this one before on this recent blog.  However, I have dug out a photo from the archives to show you.  Thus, the story is not yet finished.)

The second story:  The day it rained inside our house.  Yes, it’s true.  I would not fabricate.  One fine day, many many years ago, it rained inside our house.  Stay tuned for further elaboration of this true event.

The third story:  The day Daddy brought home a rattlesnake.  An eastern diamond back rattlesnake, even though the Upper Peninsula is not home to rattlesnakes.

Settle back in your chairs, make popcorn, pour yourself another cup of tea.

Story hour is about to commence!

The day Baby and I went in the ditch.  

In last Friday’s blog I wrote as poetically as memory would allow:

Your blogger crooned to her fair-headed first-born, “Sing, sing a song, make it simple to last your whole life long…” driving swiftly around that curve—far too swiftly, in retrospect–when suddenly, unexpectedly, the blue Fiesta careened out of control and ended up in an undignified heap in the deep white, a ditched creature of unplumbed snowbanks.

You hugged your first-born tight, sweating nervously in the freeze of January, crying, lamenting life’s unfairness, wrapped him tight in your arms which wanted to love him endlessly and never-ever-ever give him one moment of transgression or sadness or pain or grief–and walked home, sniffling, to request a husband and father to pull the stuck vehicle from its new unfair and undignified position in probably two feet of deep snow.

On Sunday I discovered the actual photo of what really happened.  Here it is:

Mama's car careens off road, runs over tree and lands in ditch

It appears my Memory was a slight bit inaccurate.  #1 It certainly wasn’t a blue Ford Fiesta.  Even though we owned blue Ford Fiestas for a hundred years in our early marriage, it appears we also owned a tan Datsun.  #2  The alleged ditch-bound vehicle did not careen off the road after too quickly rounding a curve.  It actually (husband’s excellent memory recalled exact event) hit a deep river of slush and threw itself off the dirt road.  #3  My memory also proves inaccurate because I omitted an important detail.  The errant Datsun ran over a small tree!  Can you see the poor baby tree?  Doesn’t it look pathetic?

All other facts are 100% accurate.  In fact, you can trust my memory to remember feelings.  Facts, not-so-much.  Therefore, in the following two stories, allow the facts some spaciousness, please.  The feelings of memory are what counts, after all.

The day it rained inside our house.

Come to think about it, it probably wasn’t only a day. It probably rained in our house several days.  Maybe even a week. Maybe even a month.  I am 100% certain it did not rain for an entire season.

We built our own Little House in the Big Woods, you know.  OK, this blogger really can’t take credit for it.  Mostly, said husband built the house.  He did a darn good job, too!  There are even curves on walls and around doorways.  A circular stairway.  Windows high up in the sky.  He did a fine job, didn’t he, a young buck in his 20’s pounding hammers and running electrical wire and plumbing toilets.

In those early days we lived in an Incomplete House.  Show of hands, please!  How many of you have lived in Incomplete Houses?  Houses that are not yet finished.  No fancy ceilings–only blue styrofoam with square headed-nails that look like stars gleaming down on your wooden plywood floor.  No circular stairway yet–only a ladder beneath a hole, in which one descended to stoke the wood-burning fire.

What fun we had as pioneers!  Back-to-nature folks munching our granola and eating half-inch tall whole wheat bread sandwiches which refused to rise into normal sized slices.  (Barry’s friend, Jeff, who sometimes helped build the house raised his eyebrows askance and refused to eat the tiny sandwiches, shame on him, the hummus or tuna fish was really yummy.)

Some days in the building process, we noticed a strange phenomenon.  It would sometimes rain inside the half-finished house.  Once, entertaining guests, two love-struck birds who later divorced sitting on the couch with eyes only for each other, we heard one of them suddenly exclaim, “It’s raining!”  And, alas, it was.  On our guests.

Here is the photo to prove it.  Please do not call Child Protective Services.  The child in question grew into a fine young man, even though it rained in his house one fine summer.

Look, Mom, it's raining in the house! "Find a bucket, son..."

The day Daddy brought home a rattlesnake.

We’re finally getting ’round the story you’ve all been waiting for.

Once upon a time, twenty years ago perhaps, Daddy drove home from his job at the L’Anse Sentinel in his blue Ford Fiesta.  (Do you believe me that it was a Ford Fiesta?)

Suddenly, lying in the middle of Skanee Road–What IS that?–What is that strange creature, is it a SNAKE?

He pulled off the road and tentatively approached the creature.

It was a Rattlesnake.

An Eastern Diamond Back Rattlesnake.

Without a head.

With three rattles in its tail.

He carefully picked it up and placed it in the hatchback of the Fiesta.

He drove home.

As he turned the car to the right and then left, the rattles would bounce over plastic bumps in the hatchback and sound like the Spirit of the Rattlesnake was alive, ready to slither through the backseat and toward the unsuspecting driver, rattle rattle, why did you think I was dead?

“Kids!”  Daddy called as he drove into the driveway.  Kids came running.  Kathy appeared, bemused, wondering what–WHAT?  WHAT WAS DADDY BRINGING HOME?

“Would you like to hold the rattlesnake?” Daddy asked his precious children.

Son said Yes.   Oh, yes, Dad!  Daughter said No.  No, Daddy!  Please, no, Daddy!

Daddy said, “Gosh, this would make a good column for me to write in the newspaper.  Are you sure you don’t want to get in the picture, Kiah?”

Christopher eagerly picked up the headless snake.  Kiah crossed her arms and stared in utter dismay and disapproval.

Daddy snapped photo.

The day Daddy brought home a rattlesnake

Since rattlesnakes are not found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we wondered  about the appearance of this fella.  How did it get here?  Barry wrote the world’s funniest and most interesting column about it–much more interesting than my story here–filled with 100% true facts–and we attempted to have it skinned so we could display it on our wall.  Alas, that never happened.  Some taxidermist here in the backwoods is probably proudly wearing his rattlesnake belt.

Years later we discovered that a local guy visited southern climes that winter.  Killed or discovered a rattlesnake and brought it home to the Upper Peninsula.  Thought it would be a fine joke to stretch the rattlesnake across the road, to scare or shock a few little old ladies or hardened loggers.

Little did he know that the newspaper editor would spy it first!

Thank you, dear readers, for coming to story hour.  I love when we meet like this.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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45 Responses to The day Daddy brought home a rattlesnake and other north woods stories

  1. Thank you, I loved story time today! Hugs

  2. Brenda Hardie says:

    Good Morning Kathy 🙂
    I love story time! Your stories today fill me with a sense of childhood wonder and a bit of mystery and suspense 🙂 A perfect way to start the day. Hopefully you’ll provide more story hours for us and perhaps some of your readers will supply a story or two of their own as well! Oh think of the fun we’ll have! 😀
    It’s going to be another balmy day here…52 again but then a cold front is expected and Thursday will only feel like 0!! What a sudden change!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh happy! Please, please, tell as many stories as you would like, Brenda. We ALL love stories! (I always think of the comment section as the opportunity for everyone to tell their stories. I never fuss about the length, either. Why, people could write doctoral dissertations here and I wouldn’t care! I don’t think. Hmmm….) Same weather approaching for us. Be prepared for the brrrr after the balm.

  3. Kiah says:

    I love storytime too! And I love the outfit I was wearing..

    • Kathy says:

      Oh I remember when you wore it, and how cute you looked in it, too. I remember how you always loved stories. We are one story-loving family, aren’t we? (Hoping you’re having fun in Maine. Bring home lots of stories!)

  4. Sybil says:

    Sitting cross-legged on the floor, I listened to your every word. I really liked it when you showed us the picture of the snake. It sure was a big snake. I am sad it was dead, but I sure wouldn’t want to touch it if it wasn’t.

    Can I have milk and cookies now.

    Oh, and can you give me a hand up from the floor. My knees ain’t what they used to be …

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Sybil, I will bake chocolate chip cookies just for you. Can you wait? Ooops, no, we don’t have any chocolate chips although I could buy them at the store this morning. You will have to help me off the floor. All our old–I mean seasoned–knees are a story in themselves.

  5. I’m sitting here at Starbuck’s WAAAAAAAAAY enjoying your stories as I sip on a hazelnut soy latte. What a great launch to my day — thank you!

  6. Elisa's Spot says:

    OH my. E and a friend found a baby one on the railroad tracks where they were walking and uhm the friend suggested that e throw rocks at it. E calmly said…no, that can jump…no, that is a friend, a friend that one must be very careful when near, my mother says that snakes are special.

    She is the one in the house that sees snakes alllll of the time. shrugs, she does that with skunk too

    • Kathy says:

      I am glad E realizes snakes are special. I can remember knowing that this one was special, too. Very special. I am glad it came to us for a while.

  7. Carol says:

    How fun to remember nthose times when little things, like raining in the house, don’t put us into a tizzy. And husbands coming home with headless rattlesnakes in the trunk – although I suspect that would have elicited a “yech” from me.

  8. lynnekovan says:

    What fabulous stories! Can’t wait for the next chapter. Sybil, get up off that floor, there are dogs in the house!

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, we should all get off the floor and sit on the couch. Here’s a chair for you and Sybil and everyone else…OK, some of you, let’s move the kitchen table chairs into the living room like we do for book club. Thank you for your enjoyment.

  9. Heather says:

    Hooray for story time! That snake was beautiful, but I think I probably would have left him on the road…

    • Kathy says:

      I probably would have, too. OK, at that particular stage of my life, I would have–oh, gosh, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know how I would have picked it up. But I would have wanted to. Glad you love story time!

  10. Thank you for story time! I have a fear of snakes dead or alive! There is no way I would touch that…

    • Kathy says:

      Belle, I truly understand. I have a deep fair of snakes. Yet have been trying to overcome it…trying half this life…and have succeeded a teeny tiny bit. I am glad Barry brought it home, though. It was fun!

  11. What great stories, Kathy! Really, really great stories.

    Totally LOVE that you got the details wrong in the first one, and LOVE EVEN more that it doesn’t matter. Perfect illustration of what I said about memory in a post a week or two back!

    Can’t wait for the next story hour!


    • Kathy says:

      Kathy, you are so right. It doesn’t matter! Your blog about memory struck a chord with many of us. I am glad you like the stories. They were fun to write.

  12. Gerry says:

    Oh good! Stories! I love stories. Rattlesnakes not so much, but this one was dead as a square-headed nail so that’s all right then.

  13. Karma says:

    I’m loving the fun you are having with the scanner! Thanks for the stories. And maybe for some inspiration too!

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Karma, gosh, I am having fun with that scanner. I have always wanted access to a scanner! And now, there is a goldmine of photos to bring on-line. So glad to have inspired!

  14. Colleen says:

    Kathy, I love these stories too!! Something very special happens when stories are shared. I really wanted to say women’s stories, but decided to be be fair 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Yep, we sometimes gotta include those men, too, Colleen. When we give birth to boy-babies, we especially start to realize that, because we want our boy-babies to be heard, to speak, to share with the world, too. (But, because we’re women, maybe, we love women’s stories to pieces, don’t we?)

  15. Susan D. says:

    How fun to come home from the little school which houses you during many of your working hours only to find 3 snapping stories to enjoy here! Love each one, and the photos! I look forward to more woven, wonderful stories. Thank you for writing them!

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Susan D-Buddy, I am glad you were working at the school yesterday. One of these days we’ll be there on the same day! (Maybe even next Monday?) I am glad you liked the stories and the photos. 🙂

  16. Barb says:

    Well, I kind of wish you’d started with the rattlesnake and ended with the rain – I might have a snake dream tonight if I don’t go back and read the gentle (except for the divorce) rain one. And – I will never again believe the facts but I’m 100% sure the feelings are authentic.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, gosh, did I screw up the order of the stories? I was trying to build up to the rattlesnake, like a big climax. Please, never, ever, believe all my facts, especially if they’re included in a memory. The feelings you shall believe. And I shall believe your feelings too in your wonderful blog.

  17. Reggie says:

    Ohh! I love story hour with Kathy. Sitting crosslegged on the floor with Sybil above….

    How amazing that you have photos for each of these events – it seems that you always had a camera handy at the most fortuitous moments.

    “You can trust my memory to remember feelings. Facts, not-so-much. …. The feelings of memory are what counts, after all.” – I so understand you, I’m like that too. 🙂

    And now where is Barry’s column? “The world’s funniest and most interesting column”? Can you show us? Please? Pleeeeeease?

    • Kathy says:

      Oh good, lots of us were cross-legged on the floor, including your story-teller. (Yes, Barry had the camera handy in those days. I did not know what one was.) I am glad you understand the feeling-memory. As for Barry’s column, it is not on-line. Otherwise, you would be seeing lots of links. I am sorry for that…

      • Reggie says:

        Barry’s columns are not online?! What kind of newspaper is he writing for? Surely they must know that his fame is reaching far and wide across the globe, and that he has followers and fans EVERYWHERE?


  18. Dana says:

    What a lovely story hour! I really love how the details of the first one were slightly off– those make for the best types of stories, anyway! 🙂

    The line that sticks out the most for me is this: “two love-struck birds who later divorced sitting on the couch with eyes only for each other”. It’s only half a sentence long but spans a whole world and lifetime. How can people change so drastically in the space of only a few words?

    • Kathy says:

      Dana, thank you for noticing that sentence. I wanted to include even more, but hesitated. I wanted to share about how soft the woman seemed–a woman who often spoke cynically–and how their divorce was bitter and her hard-edged personality re-asserted itself. How that was probably one moment in her life where her heart’s barrier melted, where she grew wider than her pain, where magical rain could drip away at the boundaries of a jaded self.

      But then I thought–what if someone is reading that knows her? So I didn’t elaborate. (Very few read the comments, especially way down here at the bottom, so we’re probably safe, do you think?)

  19. Raising my hand! I grew up in an unfinished house with a plywood floor in my bedroom! My parents built their house the way you and Barry built yours, a little at a time…

    These are three great stories, Kathy – I loved reading them. Isn’t funny how our memories can be so different from what “really” happened? That is one HUGE snake! And it’s so nice to discover that I’m not the only one having trouble getting up off the floor…

    • Kathy says:

      REALLY, Barbara? You know about living in an Unfinished Home? I salute you! (Wasn’t it secretly fun? All those exposed electrical outlets and plumbing fixtures?) You know how long that snake was? Five to six FEET! Yikes! (And I’m having trouble getting off the floor, too. That’s why I try to do yoga most mornings. To attempt to keep limber…)

      • There was a little dormer connected to my bedroom that didn’t even have sheet-rock on the little walls. (The main section of my room did have sheet-rock.) I made shelves between the studs and created a tiny library for myself. Stuffed a small worn and faded chaise in there and read to my heart’s content, except in the dead of winter or heat of summer… Sometimes I accidentally dropped small things in the crack between the chimney and the plywood floor and I would hear them tumbling all the way to the basement… Gosh, I haven’t thought about that in years…

        5-6 feet! Yikes, indeed!

  20. Robin says:

    You are an excellent storyteller, Kathy. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Storyteller Kathy is so happy about your compliment! (OK, she’s just glad she got 72.5% of the stories right….) LOL, thank you so sincerely, Ms. Robin.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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