Well, when you move, there are lots of things to get used to. I am no longer surprised that things are very different here Stateside (and especially Southside) than back in the UK. I like to think I have lost the look of stultified shock and confusion that was etched on my face for about a week. I feel kinda… at home. I feel good. I feel like I can create a solution for anything Alabama throws at me! Yeah! Or I did, until cycling up the steep, dimly lit, and normally fairly deserted backroad to my flat, a car pulled over next to me. Now, I no longer fear strangers talking to me, I no longer have the permanent hunted look of a london child, eyes down, flinching everytime someone even thinks of looking in my direction. So I merrily cycle over and shout my customary ‘Good evening!’ and pedal gaily on. Stopping dead in my tracks as they shout out ‘Watch out, there’s a snake up in the road. And it is a poisonous one!’. I peer back over my shoulder and watch their tail lights blast off into the distance. Errrr. Now this is not something I am equipped for. What does one do? More to the point – what is the snake going to do if I wheel past / around / over / into / under [well… you never know] it? I think back to my Science lessons…. haven’t done ‘Science’ since I was 13… can’t remember those. Think back to Biology… dimly remember painting my nails for the majority of those and being chucked out of class a lot. Dammit. Need a better frame of reference. Ah ha! Snakes on a Plane! I saw that movie three times. I have my Jackson ‘I have had enough of these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane’ impression down pat. On second thoughts, as I think more carefully about this film, slowly peddling up on the hill, it may not actually be that helpful. Unless this snake happens to be a genetically engineered killer snake. Which would be sort of good as I’d know all about it, but sort of bad, as it would probably kill me.
So I carried on up the hill pondering this, and because it was very dark, and it is very rural – the road is essentially cut into a steep rock face, which is covered in shrubs and trees, it was weird, like a film, everything became scary – every noise made me jump, every sensation of something brushing past me gave me judders. Anyway, I eventually found said snake, right in the middle the road. I removed the headlight from my bike and peered at it. It peered at me. It shook its tale. i shrieked with excitement, because I have always wanted to see a rattle snake AND because I now know what that rattling sound around me is (well, maybe not all of it, but some). I realised that the poor snake was not long for this world, so at GREAT PERSONAL SACRIFICE (I did not have my bug spray on) I went into the woods to locate a long and hooked stick. Duly found one, wended my way back to the snake, stood aside with a determined expression on my face (and my cycle helmet still on strangely) planning exactly how I was going to do this. At that very moment a car came along and ran over the snake! I was gutted (and so was it… technically). I prodded it with my stick, but it was definitely dead.
At the entrance to my block there was a strangely tame chipmunk sitting on its hind legs, and timewise I would have been excited. But I was just like ‘eh, you’re not a snake…’.