The dogs attended to business and we came back into the garage. Just as I tapped the "close" button I noticed the hose move ever so slightly! I quickly opened the garage door again and went inside the house. I called to my husband, "There's a snake in the garage. Come and watch it while I take the dogs to bed and then we'll get it out." [Important note: My husband is quite afraid of snakes. That's nothing to be ashamed of. He is otherwise fearless, hiking the most rugged trails, clearing brush from the creek, etc. Snakes are about the only thing he fears. We all have at least one thing that makes us freak out and for him it is a snake.]
The snake had not moved from the shelf when I came back out. My husband was standing near the door and said it was a black snake and a really long one at that. The snake was twisted around itself, not coiled, and seemed not to notice our presence. (DUH!!! That should have given you a little hint, Carolyn.) Dealing with non-poisonous snakes does not bother me at all if I see them and know where they are. But a snake in the garage can find all sorts of places to hide even in a garage as neat as ours. And I surely didn't want to be surprised in the future. Besides, snakes are really happier in the woods.
We developed our strategy. My husband suggested that we should take a broom and sweep the snake off the shelf into a large bucket he uses for clearing the yard. I explained that the snake would immediately climb out of that and we needed something with a lid. The very accomodating snake didn't seem to mind our discussions at all and remained where he was. (How many clues do you need, mountain woman?)
I looked over at the largest recycle bin which contains wine bottles and other glass. It was large and deep and had a cover. So my husband emptied it and brought it around his car. I put the bin on the floor directly under the shelf and handed the lid to my husband. I explained that I was going to take the broom and "sweep" the snake off the shelf and into the bin and he would pop the lid on immediately. At least three times I impressed how crucial it was to be fast with the lid. I moved over to the side so my husband could be right at the bin and ready with the lid. I counted to three and swept the snake off the shelf.
IT TURNED INTO TWO SNAKES AS IT TUMBLED OFF THE SHELF!!! My otherwise fearless husband was so startled that he took a little dance step backwards, totally forgetting his role in putting the lid on immediately. Great! Now we had two snakes loose in the garage. One of them slithered back to the shelving and the other one moved toward the garage door. I told my husband to watch the snake on the shelf while I tried to find the other one. I walked around his car and found a long pole that looked like a better tool than my broom. I found the snake behind the other recycle bin and I poked and shoved him until he was cornered behind the large trash barrel. I moved the trash barrel and prodded the snake out the garage door and onto the driveway. During this time my husband was shouting, "Throw the thing over the wall! Throw it over the wall!! This snake on the shelf is moving." I told him I almost had this one and he should keep an eye on the one on the shelf. I worked with the pole and tossed the snake over the wall as planned. One snake down...one snake to go.
I went back into the garage where my husband was standing and I did not see the other snake. My husband said he THOUGHT it might have gone behind and under the shelf. I told him to stand at the rear of his car so he could see where the snake emerged when I started poking under the shelf. Suddenly my husband shouted, "It's out! It's out!" I started to run to the back of my husband's car and RAN SMACK INTO HIM!!! Once again, my partner had left his post and we had no idea where the snake was. Thank goodness we knew it was a black snake. So there I was, poking and prodding among the mops and brooms and wishing I had more sturdy shoes than the sandals I was wearing. My husband had moved to the front of my car...the front of the front of my car asking such useful questions as, "Can you see it? Can you find it? We've got to find it!"
Finally I saw the snake's tail. Poking and prodding, I managed to get the snake out of the garage and onto the driveway and then over the wall. I don't know why it didn't occur to me from the beginning that the twisted nature of the snake could only mean one thing...there were two snakes locked in an embrace. But it didn't occur to me and I was totally shocked to see two snakes.
Photograph from Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
All's well that ends well is absolutely true. After such an adventure we are prone to think of how many things could have gone wrong. We're thankful that I noticed the snakes in the first place. It's one thing to see a snake from a distance...quite another to be suddenly surprised. We are thankful the dogs did not participate in our antics, although next morning they were intensely interested in the smells on the turn-around of the driveway. We are thankful the snakes were not poisonous or aggressive and we hope they do find a good nesting place near our house...just not inside the garage. We are thankful neither of us had more than a glass of wine at dinner.
Most of all, we are thankful that we can still get into these Desi/Lucy situations and laugh about them. And come out of them still best friends. My husband once gave me a card which read, "Having the right partner makes all the difference." So true...so true.