The Snake Bite Incident
True tales from childhood
When I was a young girl, my family and I participated in lots of outdoor activities together. Before cantankerous college students and rednecks invaded the tranquility of a float trip in the Ozarks, we took countless canoe trips in our battered metallic canoe. One time (I’m guessing my brother and I were about 7 and 4 years old ) we arrived to our destination point a little later than was originally calculated. It was well past dusk, and our family was going to have to hike up a heavily wooded hill to get up to the road where our car was parked. My father was in the lead, toting a flashlight. I followed, trailed by my brother and lastly my mom.
As I stumbled about in the dark, I stepped on the end of a large branch lying in our path, which then flipped up on the other end and smacked my father across the calf. The following events have become Ozarkian lore.
He fell to the ground as though shot by a large caliber rifle and writhed back and forth across the path in great pain. ”Oh my god,” he exclaimed. ”I’ve been bit by a snake”. My mom became distraught, my brother started crying. It was pitch black, and complete chaos ensued.
My father was very dramatic, urging our family to continue our climb to the top of the hill, never mind him, save ourselves, etc. It was a magnificent performance, rivaling the finest actors of our times. It actually appeared as though his energy was waning as the venom of the beast made its way into his bloodstream.
I can only imagine what was going through my mother’s head, with two young children stuck in the middle of the wilderness and a husband slowly dying from a snake-bite.
I finally spoke up, “Dad, I think I stepped on a branch that hit you in the leg.” Everyone stopped and stared at me. My father inspected the snake bite. Much to his surprise, instead of two gaping fang holes, there was a small welt. I believe he felt a bit sheepish. That was that. As though an invisible director yelled “cut”, the writhing stopped, he got up off the ground, and we all proceeded back to the car without further incident.
Needless to say, we have never let him live that one down, and have told the story any time the opportunity arises, as any loving family member would do.