Thursday, May 17, 2012

Snakes on the Coastal Plain


Before I started beading, I wrote a blog about my life here in the South.  Since I started beading, I have written far less and have also gotten used to many, many more aspects of daily life that once seemed so different from the life I lived in a land where it actually snows and nothing which lived in your yard could eat you whole.

Snakes are frequently on the tip of my tongue, metaphorically, because of the large number where I live in SoGa.  I have never liked snakes of any kind (it must be from seeing the movie "Sssssssss"), but was never afraid of them until I moved to this area which is full of poisonous varieties.  We have diamond back rattlesnakes, pigmy rattlers, cotton mouth moccasin, copperheads, and coral snakes.  We also have a great slithering bunch of nonpoisonous snakes, but I'm not great at telling the difference because my reaction is to scream, turn tail, and run away.  So if I see a king snake, a white oak snake, or a rat snake I haven't looked at it long enough to know whether I was actually in any danger. It really is hard to tell when you are waving your hands above your head and running full speed in the opposite direction. I long ago gave up turning my compost pile because the snakes love to burrow into its warmth.  Fortunately the heat and the humidity here make black gold for me as long as I continue to pile in my scraps and clippings.

Margot de Taxco vintage pieces: source

In my yard I don't use insect spray or any type of weed killer other than boiling water (it really takes care of those weeds better than round up...just get an electric tea kettle, fire it up, and pour).  This really helps make it a healthy place for for lots of creatures including snakes.  We have so many trees, bushes, and birds that the snakes love it.  The house is on an acre right in front of about 30 acres of swampy woods.  For the most part, my fear of the snakes comes from wanting nothing bad to happen to my dogs.  I did not know until a student told me, but dogs do not react to snakes.  Mine have walked right over many, and I was warned by the vet that one bite will kill them.  If they were smaller, I would also have to worry about birds of prey swooping down and plucking them from the yard.  Maybe you heard about a hawk dropping a puppy into a California yard recently.  It is like that here.  One of the coolest things I've seen on my ride to work was a hawk taking with a snake in its talons, then dropping it to the ground to kill it.  It is a regular wild kingdom.

My friend recently sent me a link to a story that would appear to be in the category of fake news, but it turns out to be frighteningly true.  Check out what Jon Stewart said about my a snake new to the area on The Daily Show.  Last fall I saw a story about a python found close to me.  Holy moly, Burmese pythons are on the loose!  This has definitely awakened the primal fear I have of snakes.  Forget all the Ssssssss junk about being turned into a snake, now I can worry about being attacked by one.  At least the local alligators don't try to eat adult deer.

This sent my into a panic.  I found articles confirming the python feeding frenzy.  The first one shows a dead python after it tried to eat an alligator, and the second article says that the projection for the Burmese python migration across the southern US is incorrect.  I'm going to hope this is true because I can't stand the thought of looking out for 12-foot long snakes hanging out in my backyard.

Of course in my search for more info on the freed-pet-pythons-now-taking-over-the-Everglades, I discovered that a guy in Mississippi who runs an alligator zoo is missing 50 of his creatures after recent flooding enabled them to swim over the six-foot fence.  He had 250 alligators, but 200 of them escaped during Hurricane Katrina.  I don't need to worry about his 14-foot gators because we already have plenty around here.  But a 12-foot long snake, now that would stick out like a sore thumb.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Excuse me stewardess, I can order in Chinese

A real scene from my classroom.  Keep in mind I am a high school Spanish teacher.

Student 1: Ask her.
Student 2: No you ask her.

Student 1: I don't need to because I know she does.

Me:  What's the problem guys?
Student 1:  He says you don't speak Chinese.
Me: That's right.  I don't.
Student 1: No, I know you do.  Can't you just say a few words for us.

Me: Well, I just told you I don't know Chinese.
Student 2: I told you so.

Me, thinking that Student 2 is being a little snotty and needs to be taken down a peg: Okay, you got me, I do know some.

Student 1: Go ahead; let's hear.

Me: Egg foo young, kung pao, ma po tuo fu, moo goo gai pan.

Student 1: See, I told you she did.
Student 2: That's so cool.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

...and then she fell out: my latest Southernism

My students were all excited when they returned to class after lunch today, and not just because you only need two hands to count the number of days left in the school year.  A group of students was walking the track and a girl, who is also pregnant,  fell out.   The students said she was walking with a friend and then, as if in slow motion, she just fell out.

I was particularly horrified because I couldn't figure out why a pregnant girl would be fighting - you know - falling out.  To me it made sense that falling out was just a twist of the expressing to have a falling out.  And of course I learned pretty quickly after I moved here that to show out means to make a fool of oneself.  But even after ten years here, I've discovered another Southernism.

To fall out means to faint.  The poor girl only pretended to faint which is why it was all in slow motion; her friend caught her and lowered her gently to the track (which my students acted out).  After some adult attention she got up under her own power.  That was it.  Over and done.

The students, however, felt cheated.  The school has recently instituted a protocol in case someone stops breathing or their heart stops, and we have been practicing with Code Blue alerts.  They wanted to see all the AED and CPR trained faculty and staff run out to the field and get to work.  They wanted to see a body jump under defibrillator paddles.  It is a good thing we are winding down for the year; I think they might be out for blood next!