A Snake Story My Grandma Told Me
A Black Racer and a Whooping
As a young boy I spent many of my summers up on Mount Olivet. My grandparents lived and worked a small farm of not more than 40 acres. Grandpa was old school and still used a mule or horse to plow and cultivate the the fields of pole beans, cabbage and corn he grew each year to sell at the Farmers market in town. In the Spring and Summer he was up at 4 am building a fire in the wood cook stove and once that was done, he would head over to the barn and harness up old Kate to plow while the morning was still cool. After a couple of hours he would come to eat his breakfast. His old faded gray shirt would be wet from his own sweat. After we ate our breakfast, me and my uncle would tend the livetock, milk the cows and hogs, feed the chickens and the rest of the day meant hoeing corn or other farm work.
The afternoons were the times we sat in the living room and rested and I would listen to the grownups talk. Grandpa had farmed a nearby field on Ann Mountain. He would raise pole beans up there and it was on Ann Mountain I first learned how to tie bean strings. I couldn't have been but about 5 years old, I recall I hadn't started to school yet. The field on Ann Mountain wasn't too large, maybe just a little over an acre but the ground was fertile for mountain land and the bean crop did quite well.
My uncle who was only 16 months older than me showed me how to ctch June bugs. It wasn't too hard to catch them and he would take one of the single strings used for tying up pole bean runners and tie it to the June bugs leg and let it fly away. For us it was a momentary distraction from our work and it wasn't long before we'd her, ayou boys quit that follishness and get bck to work!"
My grandma told me the field had been cleared and "brash" piled to be burned. Clearing new ground is hard work and back when this field had been cleared there was no heavy equipment like trackhoes or dozers. The tools used were shovels,mattocks, a good ax and a crosscut saw. Grandma said the man who was going to burn the "brash" pile had been known to take a few nips from the fruit jar he had hidden in the nearby woods and had a reputation for overindulging the same. Grandma said about the time he put a match to the "brash" pile a black racer came out and began to chase the poor guy. The snake caught the man, climbed up his back and "quiled" around his neck and proceeded to give him the licking of his life. Grandma allowed it was because of his indescretions and a just punishment.
Whether it actually happened that way or not will never be known as a pure fact but I enjoyed the story. Maybe grandma was trying to warn me about the vice of drinking and the possible consequences. I haven't seen a black racer in many years but they are non-poisonous. They will chase you if need be but will normally retreat when confronted.