Mom vs. Snake
This is seriously not funny you guys. I had the most frightening encounter and didn't even know enough to be frightened until it was almost over. Mostly I just fretted about the shoe.

See, we had an open house today, and open houses require two hours of me being somewhere other than home with the children. So I decided to take them to the playground. Driving along toward the playground, I saw a snake lying in the road. A big snake. Maybe three feet long and pretty thick. Being in no particular hurry, and thinking my son might like to see it, I turned and drove back.

When I got back, I was surprised to find it had moved to the center of the road where it had stretched out to sun itself.
What is it, mom?
The children asked. It was nothing like the garter snakes they chase around.
Look carefully at the markings and try to remember the pattern. We can look it up when we get home.
And they did. They studied it from the safety of the car, talked about it and finally worried that it might get hit.

Such nice children. Worried about the great big snake sunbathing in the middle of the road. That left me in a bit of a predicament. I drive by critters on the road all the time. Sometimes I even think, "Oh, I hope it doesn't get hit!" Especially if it is a turtle.

But there is a certain immunity in "just driving by" that allows me to go on without thinking much about it or feeling much personal responsibility. Unless it happens to be a box turtle, but that is neither here nor there.

Now that I had pulled over and it had become a point of educational curiosity for the children, I felt responsible. But what was I supposed to do exactly? I didn't know what kind of snake it was, and I'm not keen on getting bitten by anything. Then I thought about what my children would do if we drove by a flattened snake on the way home.

So I looked around the car, looked at the snake, thought about opening the door to scare it off and thought something about the shape of the head really sort of was making me want to run it over myself. Then I did what anyone would do and threw a little window squeegee thing at it.

I missed. The dumb snake didn't even appear to notice it was under attack as the window squeegee thing bounced and flopped next to it.

Then I threw my daughter's croc at it. That hit its mark, but again, the snake didn't seem overly concerned. I guessed it was a little chilled seeing as it was only 50 degrees out. After all, that was why it was sunning itself in the middle of the road, right? And reluctant to leave even while being pelted by random objects from my car?

Something about its passivity under fire emboldened me. I backed the car up and grabbed my baby's back carrier and got out of the car. The plan was to slowly but noisily approach the snake and sort of shoo it off the road. Most animals, even snakes, choose to leave rather than mess with people so long as there is a place to leave to. The whole rest of the world seemed like a good escape route to me so I clanked the thing on the road and stepped toward the snake.

It totally didn't care.

So I did it again. And again. And louder. And then with a touch more motion. And suddenly I got a reaction, and not at all the one I was looking for. Around went the coils, and back went the head. Its entire length seemed suddenly in motion as it drew itself into a defensive posture. And then...what's that? Rattling? Seriously, that thing was rattling at me?

I yielded the road. In fact, I went around the back of the car and got in on the passenger side even though it meant climbing over two dogs and a gerbil cage.
What's wrong, mom?
I know what kind of snake it is.
What about my shoe?
If he wants the shoe, he can have it.
And we drove away.

From the safety of my computer chair, I discovered that I saw a western massasauga, an endangered species of rattlesnake thought to possibly still be in this area, though it is generally more to the south of us, where the University even goes out on field trips looking for them. The image is from Wikipedia.