I remember summer days, running through fields of grass, rolling down hills, lying on my back, staring up at the clouds.
Just kidding, I was so not that girl.
Sure I did the outside thing if I was forced to, but I was more of a pretend to be a mermaid in the swimming pool kind of girl, than a fairy running through a field of flowers kind of girl. Yet here I am thirty-ish years later, a wood fairy, not a swimming pool for miles.
I fought it for as long as possible, knowing what may be lurking just out of sight. Knowing that in The Nature there is something out there skulking in the trails and the waterfalls, hiding in the crevasses of the rocks, disguised by the leaves.
Not the mama bears protecting their baby bears, not the poisonous plants that climb the trees, not the cliffs or the rushing water that could so easily sweep you away. For me The Danger is one thing and one thing only, sssssssnakessss.
We all have an irrational fear, don’t we? Some of you may be terrified of spiders. I on the other hand could pick up a spider with my bare hands. I mean, I don’t, but I could if I needed to. Some of you may be afraid of heights. I love heights, as long as it doesn’t involve falling.
The point is we all have our crazy. Mine just happens to slither on its belly and stars as the bad guy in the book of Genesis. I hid inside for 8 months from the devil lurking around, and then one day just like that, enough was enough, I went into the nature.
Four months and fifty-something hiking adventures later, with not a snake in sight, I thought I conquered my greatest fear. I knew they were out there, but we were coexisting quite nicely. I mean, sure it was like 20 degrees outside and they were probably in their snakey hidey holes deep in the Earth, but to me, we had made nice.
But then the weather warmed and the green things greened, and The Danger slowly but surely made its presence known again. First there were their skins left lying around taunting me, “I’m herrrrreeeeeeeee, hisssssssssssssssssss, you can’t see me but I seeeeeeeeeeee you.” Then one seemingly uneventful day while my husband was weed-eating right outside our house, he came across a little devil leisurely lying around, basking in the sunlight, waiting to sink its fangs into our ankles. My warrior conquered the serpent and spiked its corpse on display, Game of Thrones style.
I thought that was the end of it, the enemy was conquered, its body on display for all to see. But the bad guy doesn’t work alone, and once he makes his presence known the story has only just begun. And like all good stories, this one comes to you as a trilogy.
Part 1- A New Hisssssssss
It was a Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining and we were enjoying a day at home. Our sixty-pound pit bull Guinness was outside on a potty break. After a few minutes she started barking to let us know she was finished and that she would like to come back inside. When we didn’t get to her immediately, the princess became impatient and increased her volume and frequency. My husband found her outside not barking out of impatience but defending herself and her castle from a deadly viper. My husband rescued the princess and brought her inside and then returned once again to slay the serpent. When I went to praise Guinness for protecting the realm, I noticed that she was acting strangely and we began inspecting her for bites. Sure enough she had blood and puncture wounds on the side of her nose. We shoved Benadryl down her throat immediately and covered her with essential oils to help fight infection. Our nearest vet is a half an hour away and it’s closed on the weekend. The closest emergency vet is an hour and a half away and we figured by the time we got her there she would already be dead if it was going to kill her. So we rode it out, continuing to baby her as she swelled, giving her medicine every few hours and covering her in bacon grease. Yes, bacon grease. As it turns out, according to Google, farmers and mountain folk alike, swear by bacon grease for snake bites.
For a long time she did nothing but swell and stare at us miserably, but within about 10 hours, she was up and walking around and eating. Her battle was victorious, the enemy was slain, and she lived to fight another day. Roll credits.
Part 2- The Nature Strikes Back
The following Friday night as Princess Guinness continued to make a full recovery, the kids took the puppies out for a final bathroom break before bedtime. Honestly this is a pointless task because all they do is walk around and then come inside to crap on the floor, but still. Only moments after they stepped outside, they stormed back in yelling, “Mom! Where’s the Benadryl?”
Part 2 is always dramatic, the battle at Helms Deep, Solo frozen in carbonite, everything gets worse in 2. Maybe a pit bull can take on a Copperhead and survive, but could a 5-pound, 4-month old feist puppy? The girls went to work on Lyla, while the boys went out into the night to hunt down the enemy.
Of course it was the weekend, again, so we were stuck doing the same things we did before. Benadryl, essential oils, bacon grease, repeat. Lylas paw oozed black and blood continuously for hours, and every time she had to move an inch she screamed out in pain. None of us really expected her to make it, but the next day she was hobbling around and fighting off her sister, being territorial over her breakfast. Her paw may never be quite the same, but Luke Skywalker lost like half an arm and still continued on in his badassery, so there’s hope for feisty Lyla. Cue victorious and inspiring film score.
Part 3- Return of the Viper
A few weeks later, while the scars were still fresh in Guinness and Lyla, my husband was down at the bottom of the mountain doing some landscaping while our dog Xena was running around keeping him company.
Xena is an extremely impressive specimen. She showed up on our property one day, covered in ticks and starving. We fed and took care of her and she decided we were her people and this was where she belonged. She lives outside and sleeps on the porch and runs up and down the mountain about a hundred times a day. She visits all of the guests that come here and is well-loved by all. She basically dogs better than every other dog in the 20 acre wood.
She was only a few feet away from my husband when she suddenly let out a yelp and started limping immediately. Knowing from previous experience that it was a viper attack, my husband picked her up and drove her to the house. He shoved Benadryl with bacon grease down her throat and held her for as long as she would let him. She hid under the house for a few hours and then disappeared for the night. My kids were convinced she went off to die and they were mourning the loss of her, but she showed up the next day smiling and running around like nothing ever happened. As it turns out she’s in heat and probably got knocked up while defending the mountain but that’s a different story altogether. Maybe she will mother future doggie Jedis who will fight against the dark side and protect us from the vicious serpents. Until then though, she will continue to defend our honor and protect the realm.
The Danger is still out there, we won a few battles but the war is ongoing. I haven’t reverted back to hiding inside, in fact I do everything exactly the same, including stupidly wearing flip-flops everywhere I go. We still have to leave the house, the dogs still have to pee outside, life goes on. I refuse to be afraid of where I live. I’m so over it, but I’m not afraid. I just keep Benadryl on hand, bacon grease in the freezer, and every time we walk outside we say “Viper no viping, viper no viping, viper no viping!”