I have a rather dramatic story to tell of, it was the highlight of my half term.
When I think about it, us children found it amazingly, tremendously, exciting, but to the adults it was probably only something that reminded them of the delights of their own childhood. Well, we didn’t care if we were the only people in the world who were absolutely hysterical over such a small thing as catching a specific, slithering, special specimen.
Well, the story starts like this, it’s half term and our good friends have come camping. I’m at home when one of them, the older one at twelve years old, comes running up, all out of breath. “Gracie,” she says “want to come rabbit hunting with me ?” Of course I agree and we set off. We head up to a field at the top of the farm where no campers go and silently we creep through the grass and keep our eyes peeled. Unfortunately the rabbits have super sharp hearing and are a mile off before we have them in range of our nets.
As the four of us (my fellow rabbit hunter, my brother, my sister and I) trudge across the field we wrack our brains for a solution to the rabbit shortage. The only sound is our feet in the swishing grass, until my little sister pipes up, “why not try looking under the corrugated iron sheets? There might be some mice or voles”. “Or shrews” adds my brother. “Great idea” we all agree. Trudging across the last half of the field with renewed enthusiasm, we get to talking about the time when Dad and I checked them and saw a very sleepy grass snake. My friend, who is terrified of snakes, looks slightly worried, but I reassure her saying, “I’ve checked the pieces of metal hundreds of times and there’s only been a snake once, alright”. She smiles nervously, but carries bravely onwards.
A little later we reach the shoulder-high grass where the iron sheets are kept. Pushing our way through the mega long grass, we feel like real explorers now. I reach one first, closely followed by Evan and Irys, my friend is a little way behind. I open it, the moment of truth, we hold our breaths. A few mice scuttle out, but we don’t move a muscle, all our attention is taken up by something else, you’ve guessed it, a snake. I yell and my friend freezes, I will never forget the look on her face. I run to the next one and the next one and the next one and so on, until we’d seen four real live grass snakes. We run all the way home.
We start equipping ourselves properly, long trousers, proper shoes or boots, not crocs, tubs to keep mice or snakes in, nets to catch them, a forked stick and two more people, my friends younger sister and another friend of ours. The adults all trying to be encouraging and enthusiasic, but I’m sure they thought that it was all some childish game. Well, we totally proved them wrong.
My friend over came her phobia and went along with everything we had to do without so much as a scared look or a squeal. Eventually we came to the bits of metal, after about 3 or 4 we see our first snake. I hold the iron while the snake thrashes around dangerously close to my fingers, when I think about it now I get scared, but in the moment it was all too thrilling. Evan seizes his forked stick and pins down his snake’s head, my other friend grabs his tail and pops him neatly into a big tub, we fasten the lid punched with air holes.
We’ve got him!!!!!!! None of us can believe we’ve caught this creature. We walk home and think up a name while doing so. He really is a beauty, so we call him: Amber Death Geoff Sierra Daisy Tiger. We choose a name each, mine is Tiger, because I can see the light in his eyes and I know that he’s a fighter.
When we get near, we parade. Evan stands at the front with me beside him, blowing an imaginary trumpet of triumph, the others come behind. Wild grins on all of our faces and looks of utter astonishments on those of the adults.
After having our photo taken, we marched back to the grass for the solemn ceremony of releasing our snake. We all went to bed feeling glorious and victorious that night.