Even though I grew up in the old days when everyone played outside until Momma hollered, “Supper time,” I'm not much of a camper. But, all of my mother’s grandsons had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, so I bestowed onto my only son An Agenda. He must become an Eagle Scout.
Spoiler alert. He's not an Eagle. Not his goal.
That said, while we were on my quest for the Eagle, we did some camping. One of my favorite outings was--and I know you find this hard to believe--at the beach.
Dauphin Island, Alabama is a quaint barrier island south of Mobile. The beaches aren’t as pristine as San Destin, nor does it host the huge resorts and shopping malls. (Buy your groceries before you get there.) But hey, it’s still a beach on the Gulf.
The island is small, and most of it is designated as a bird sanctuary—a bird watcher’s delight. We toured the Sea Lab and a cool old fort on the bay, Fort Gaines. The campground was nice, too. One great thing about being a female chaperone with the scouts is that the men/boys do all the cooking, like yummy hobo meals and Dutch oven cobblers.
The only thing that bothered me (other than sleeping in the tent) was this swampy nature trail the boys had to run down to get to the beach. About twice every waking hour, I warned them to watch for snakes. Over and over and over, I reminded, until their response became, “We know. Watch for snakes.”
During all my rambling in creeks and woods of central Mississippi growing up, I never ran across a snake. I’m not sure why I obsessed about my kids stepping on one.
Soooo … we left the island having seen no reptiles. Along the way home, I threw a fit to stop at The Bellingrath Estate to tour the flower gardens. (I mean we were so close to it down there.) I walked as fast as I could because my son’s (and my husband’s) patience for this sort of thing was nil on a good day. My map in hand, I covered ground quickly, hitting the highlights.
Then I heard my son yelling, “Mom, Mom.” I groaned, just knowing he was ready to leave. I answered, in not so nice a voice, “What???”
He huffed, “Uh, you’re standing on a snake.”
Yes. I looked down and under my Saucony tennis shoe was a squirming black snake. Luckily, it hightailed it when I lifted my foot.
Not sure there’s a point to this story other than maybe parents should take their own advice. (Believe me, your kids will make fun of you for years afterward when you don’t.) Oh, and don’t let fear of snakes keep you from having fun.
Do you have any snake stories?
Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson