Thursday, January 01, 2015

Snow Snake

Snow Snake
A snow snake egg?

Twas winter, when a dear old friend,
Came home to see me from the coast.
Of all my friends, he was the most
Gregarious, and to that end,
I sought to be the perfect host.

To entertain him was my thought,
Because of that, I would arrange,
To show him something really strange -
Maybe something that I had caught,
Or something normal I could change.

Like Barnum, I began to plan,
A sideshow and menagerie;
And weird and wild stuff was the key,
For my old buddy was a fan,
Of ev'ry strange anomaly.

The high point of our winter fun,
The star of my icy sideshow,
A cold and reclusive fellow —
I'll bet that you never saw one:
A Serpent of the Winter Snow

I chuckled as I grabbed my rake,
Elated by my little prank.
I visualized them rank on rank —
The tiny holes that I would make,
In a large and sheltered snow bank.

I poked the handle in the snow.
I dragged the tip upon the ground,
Making tracks that went all around,
From hole to hole — as snakes would go,
And deep enough so they'd be found.

I told him of the serpents white,
The snow snakes of the Keweenaw;
The critters that we seldom saw,
But gave a nasty little bite,
From tiny teeth in unhinged jaw.

I showed him, then, my bogus nest,
The snow snake city I had made,
The tiny tracks that I had laid.
And as I showed him all the rest,
He very close attention paid.

I told him that they ate small mice,
And that they hunted late at night,
Depending on their skin of white,
Blending with the snow and ice,
To keep them hidden from our sight.

I knew I had him hooked you see.
He looked at me with big wide eyes...
He'd purchased all my awful lies,
He'd bought the package, totally;
And now, I'd give him a surprise.

Worried that the news would rankle,
I tried to smile most charmingly.
When I stepped close to snake city,
Something bit me on the ankle,
And moved so fast I could not see.

I stood still, I'd had a big shock —
Could not believe what I saw there:
Red drops on the ground everywhere,
And blood was spreading on my sock,
Dripped from a tiny ragged tear.

The disbelief was on my face.
I did not know where to begin.
To think that I had been done in,
By something I had put in place!
You can imagine my chagrin...

My friend helped me to the doctor,
A fam'ly friend who knew me well,
And so I felt that I could tell.
What I told her really rocked her -
The story - difficult to sell.

As she cleaned and dressed the small break,
(Which was beginning to hurt now),
I tried to explain to her how,
I'd been bitten by a snow snake
But, doubt was written on her brow.

Peace and quiet was my desire,
But, everyone knew me by sight.
All the town knew of my snake bite —
Of course the story spread like fire,
And people called me day and night.

Years have passed since my fiasco,
Forgotten should my story be!
Tried to put it all behind me...
Tried to bury Barnum's sideshow,
But people won't forget, you see.

I think I have learned a lesson,
About the risks that one should take,
When trying a small joke to make:
It is best not to go messin',
With the Keweenaw Snow Snake.
Mick McKellar
February 2003

A few of my friends, worried about my "dark side," have asked me to lighten up a bit. So, today I tell the incredible (but absolutely true...;-) story of an encounter with the legendary Keweenaw Snow Snake. We've all tried the gambit when a friend or relative from a warm place comes to visit - poking holes in a snow bank with a rake handle (or broom handle, or shovel handle), so we can try to convince our prey that the holes are snow snake tunnels. Sounds like great fun, but what if...


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