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City Girl Meets the Suburbs

Submitted by Kristine Crimmins

It was August, 1977 when I first moved to the beautiful countryside of Wilbraham, Massachusetts. I spent most of my life growing up in the big city of Springfield. My family of three was young and had anticipated the move for three years. In Springfield, the homes I lived in, both before and after my marriage, were quaint little houses with fenced in, small backyards, endless sidewalks with squirrels and birds being the wildest of animals sighted. I was not aware of the sensitivity to and the impact of such a change in location was on my psyche.

Soon after I arrived in my wood-lined, brook-side, large-acred Oakland Street home, I realized that a heavy duty, sit down mower was going to be needed to handle all the grass that seemed to out shine the size of the house. I quickly learned how to operate this machinery to help my husband get the job done that soon came to be a two hour stint. One day was driving the mower in the backyard when all of a sudden a thin, green snake came squiggling toward me. Thank goodness I had my feet above ground. I couldnít stop the tractor fast enough and continued driving right over the little critter. As I turned around to see the ultimate demise of the squirmy little rascal, I was shockingly surprised to see the snake wiggle off in two pieces, in two different directions. As fast as it appeared, raising my adrenaline, it disappeared. I was in shock. But it wasnít to be the last time I saw a little green or brown snake. They appeared often in the window wells, around the bricks, and in the stone wall. I never even thought about snakes before moving to Timothy Merrick territory. He is the boy who was bitten by a snake on Oakland Street and died when he wasnít treated in time. That was back in the 1800ís as the song ďOn Springfield MountainĒ bellowed to young children back in the 1950ís, 60ís and 70ís.

Soon thereafter, I would encounter a large, scary, black and white striped snake sunning himself on the stones that circled the rock garden outside my back door. I was petrified one day when I came out onto the porch that leads to the rock garden and found yet another shocking surprise. This new visitor sat curled upon a rock with his head toward the sun. I jumped back as my surprise turned into fright. I ran to the garage and grabbed a shovel hoping to poke at the unwanted visitor to scare him off. He scared me more, because as I poked, he hissed and snapped at me. He didnít like being disturbed. I didnít like his presence. It was too close for comfort and too close to the back door where by then my small children played. I continued to poke, but it was wasted energy. He stayed! He hissed! He defied me! I gave up, threw the shovel at him, screamed and ran into the house. I hoped for rain, thinking that it would make him go away. I kept checking on him through the window. He stayed there for two more hours and then totally vanished, never to be seen again. Thank goodness!!!!!!!

As time passed, I started fearing the presence of snakes everywhere. But he hardest thing for me was to descend into the basement to do the wash. I became fearful that one day I would open the lid of the washing machine and I would find a swirling array of little green and brown garden snakes, trying desperately to get out, and I would slam the lid and run back upstairs. This fear was fired by the repeated dreams I would have about this premonition. It happened quite often. It wasnít until I moved out of that house and closer to the center of town that the nightmare finally stopped. I lived in the house on Oakland Street for 12 years and saw enough snakes to last a lifetime.

Now, in the 11 years Iíve lived in the house on Brookmont Drive I have seen only one snake. It was large. It was brown and yellow. And it was crushed kin the middle of the road. Knock on wood, I hope I never, ever see another free-wheeling, gut-wrenching snake in Wilbraham again!!!! And so far I havenít. Snakes have been replaced by the herd of deer and wild turkeys parading across my lawn every morning and evening.


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