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Sunday, April 22, 2012

R. I. P. Gus

"Aw crap!" I heard Steve say as he shut off the mower.

"What?" I said, thinking he hit something hard and banged up the blade.

"I think I just hit Gus with the mower," he answered.

"Oh no!" says I, running over to where Steve was looking intently at the grass.

I was just thinking yesterday that we should be seeing Gus soon because the weather turned pretty warm. It was in the upper seventies and today was supposed to be as high as eighty.  But unfortunately, the mower found Gus first.

There lay our hapless garter snake, all in one piece, but definitely injured. He wasn't moving, and his head appeared to be tucked under his body, so we couldn't even see how bad that was.  I was completely bummed.  Gus and I have been coexisting peacefully for a couple of years now.  We'd startle each other periodically; an involuntary screech would well out of the limbic recesses of my brain and carry me off a couple of feet; Gus would slither silently in the opposite direction.  Then after my fluttering heart settled downed somewhat, I'd return to that part of the yard where'd I been working, mindful now that I could run into him again and to not freak out when I did.

I liked having a garter snake in the yard because they're good for getting rid of bugs and whatnot, and it's really too bad we lost him because he was just getting big enough to start eating moles and voles.

"Do you think he could be rehabilitated?" I asked.

"No.  I guess we'd better put him out of his misery."  With this, the tail end of Gus starting whipping back and forth, and I realized that he was awake again and probably suffering.  I hurried to the garage and came back with both shovels.

Which one do you think I should use?" said Steve.

"Whichever you think will do it fastest," I replied. "That's why I brought them both."  We both knew I was not up to this task.

He quickly chose the contractor's shovel with the flat edge and dealt Gus several quick blows, chopping him neatly up.  I wanted to cry but I didn't, because I was completely bummed about losing my snake. We decided to leave him where he lay, to return to the earth eventually.

Rest in peace, Gus.


Miriam said...

This is so sad! Poor Gus, and poor Steve and Paula, too.

We have a similar division of labour at our house too - we haven't had to kill anything yet, but when something dies of natural causes I am the disposer of dead bodies. It's good to know what you're capable of, and what things you just can't do.

Here's hoping another friendly garter snake finds his/her way to you!

Julia Posey said...

I'm so sorry, Paula.

Rae said...

:( Poor Gus! If you want another garter snake or two, let me know before the weather gets too hot. I know where to find some at our place and could bring a couple to let go in your yard. :) Seriously... Totally not joking.

jules said...

Dern. That's too bad. RIP Gus indeed.

Paula said...

It's funny thing Miriam; I had no problem putting Lucy out of her crippled misery, but maybe that's because I was wielding a three pound hammer against a hard surface. I just didn't think I was strong enough to make quick, merciful work of it.

Thanks Julia.

You are totally on, Rae. I will take you up on that offer. Just one, though. Seriously- with my mitral valve prolapse Gus would really get the ol' ticker pumping pretty hard. I think two would about do me in. But I would love to have another one.

Dern indeed Jules.

Cat said...

Yep. I had this happen with a snake of no name. We didn't know what it was, but it ate spiders. I was backing out of the yard with the mower, crushed the little thing like a twig. I felt rotten that something doing such a wonderful thing had that as its fate... Hope you maybe had a Gussie, perhaps some future Gus, Jr.'s?

One can hope.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I'm sorry about your snake. Putting animals out of their misery is a grim chore.

I wish you many more snakes.

Paula said...

Thank you Cat and Tamar. I hope to get another garter snack from my friend Rae.

Holly House said...

Poor Gus! It's wonderful of you to have welcomed him into your yard instead of chasing him out like most folk would have. I'm sure he had a happier life than most and he had you guys to thank for it. RIP little buddy.

Anonymous said...

So sad, Paula. We love our snakes--apparently they eat...slugs! So we are very happy that we seem to have a healthy population. I'm sure you will do what you can to attract new ones; they are so helpful around the garden.

And, ironically, I was just posting about the happier side of death on the homestead today...