One of my goals for this blog is to get all my older pieces all in one place, so I will occasionally be posting old stories from Face Book. This is actually the first story I ever wrote about my family. It takes place about 5 years ago, when we had 8 children. Enjoy.
So, we sold our camper this summer and this weekend we went tent camping for the first time in 6 years. Aside from the deflated air mattress that had me sleeping on the hard ground the first night, the flash flood that had me sleeping in a puddle of water on the hard ground the second night, and the nonstop cloud of gnats and mosquitoes, the trip did have it’s high points. Like going swimming at the river and spotting two water moccasins (at least that’s what they looked like!).
The climax of the trip though was the third night when I was anticipating sleeping on my brand new air mattress that my husband so thoughtfully left the wilderness and went to Walmart to buy. I had all the kids bathed and was trying to usher them into their tents (older kids in one tent, younger kids with mom and dad in the other tent) and Andy was at the bathhouse showering. The older kids refused to enter their tent because they had spotted some various bugs in the interior (yes, they are city kids), so I told them to sit by the fire and wait for their Dad while I took the younger ones to bed. I was trying to feed the baby and get my other little ones to calm down when the peace was shattered by screams of SNAKE!! I yelled the helpful advice of, “It’s Ok, just calm down and wait for Daddy.” The screams rose in decibel so I told them to come get in my tent and zip it up, no snake could enter. The screams got even louder as my son Levi managed to choke out that the snake was heading for my tent. Some kids ran in the tent while the others hopped up and down screaming. So, I handed the now also screaming baby to an older sister and went outside to “handle” it. This is surefire evidence that the mothering instinct overcomes other instincts as my children definitely learned the scream and hop up and down at the sight of a snake, from me.
So, Levi, with shaking finger, points out the snake to me, which, sure enough, is only about a foot away from our tents. I was able to recognize the snake as a copperhead because only that afternoon I had been googling poisonous snakes of Tennessee after our swimming experience. So, after uselessly yelling for Andy (who was relaxing in the shower while all this was going on), I bravely grabbed a handful of gravel and threw it at the snake until it slithered off into the woods (right next to the path to the bathhouse, which I then and there decided I didn’t need to visit any more that night!). The kids were hysterical so I ordered them all into the van. I also climbed into the van, turned the motor on, and after reading some bible verses about stepping on cobra’s heads and not being hurt and explaining to the kids in detail how snakes are not actually out to get humans and really don’t want to have anything to do with us.. and googling on Andy’s phone about copperheads and finding the great news that copperhead bites are Generally, not fatal, they finally calmed down to a mere whimper.
Andy, comes back from his shower and finds the van running and all his family inside. He doesn’t have a lot of patience for Fear. He walks around the campsite with a light and scares away any remaining snakes and then, with some eye-rolling, he leaves us huddling in the van and goes to sleep in the tent.. alone…on my brand new air mattress.. while I try to get comfortable in the front seat. So, I have the window down because it’s hot but I’m very nervous about this (maybe a snake will fall out of a tree on my car and then down in the window?)
I finally manage to fall asleep by the open window. Suddenly I hazily see two eyes at my window and my sleeping brain tells me that it is a raccoon. So, I scream and try to shoo it away but it won’t go away, it just keeps staying, in fact, it seems to be leaning in to the car (maybe it’s a rabid raccoon? Why else wouldn’t it run away?). The raccoon also seems to be yelling something. Something like, “Stop, it’s me!! Stop!” I jerk awake and there is Andy looking at me like I’m some crazy person. “What is wrong with you?? I’m just trying to bring you a flashlight in case you need to get out of the car!) Now the entire car is screaming (imagine a dark campground, a mom and 8 children all sitting in a van, screaming as loud as they can). This is when I start considering just starting up the car and driving the 2 ½ hrs home by myself. We can come pick up Andy in the morning. I check the clock, it’s midnight. Only about 6 more hours till light. I can make it that long. I miss my camper.