I had already taken the trash can to the curb, it was Tuesday evening. Trash was picked up early Wednesday morning. “Would you run this bag out to the trash, please?” Marilyn asked. “It has all of my poison ivy paper towels in it”

A couple of days earlier Marilyn realized that the rash on her arms was probably poison ivy. It itched, it was painful, and it left small blisters on her skin. She had put various potions, creams, salves, and medications on the rash. In the process she had used many paper towels. We wondered where she had come in contact with the poisonous plant. Probably at the Nature Center we had recently visited.

“Yeah, I’ll run it out to the curb,” I replied. I noticed nothing unusual as I took the bag to the curb, but I did notice something as I headed back into the house. As soon as I stepped back onto the porch I saw the creature. There, right on the front porch, next to the Yew bushes was a snake. Not a big snake, as snakes go, but a garter snake. They are very common in this area, although not very often seen by most people. 

I grew up catching snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders, lizards, and anything else that moved, so I was happy at the chance to catch that snake. It was a challenge. I’m an ol’ snake catcher from way back. I leaned down and tried to grab it right behind the head, so it could not bite me. I missed and the serpent slithered under the Yews. “I’ll get you,” I thought to myself. I kept my eyes open for that darned snake.

I saw it again a couple of days later. Again it slithered under the Yews. This time I went after the sneaky snake. I pulled the branches of the Yew bush back as far as I could, exposing the middle, and bottom, of the bush. Yes, there I saw it. No, not the snake, but the poison ivy. The poison ivy vine was growing up through the bushes. Poison ivy was right there next to the front porch. Now that cleared up the mystery of where Marilyn caught the painful rash.

I have a large spray container of weed killer that I keep handy. I retrieved it from the garage and sprayed the unwanted vine. I checked the poison ivy a day or two later and sprayed it again. After several days the plant that had caused Marilyn so much misery was dead. It was brown and it was shriveled up. That ivy was dead.

Things got back to normal, we found the source of the poison ivy and eliminated it. We didn’t have to worry about that anymore. I was back into the usual routine in the front yard. I was watering the geraniums and the salvia, and next I had to water the planter full of impatients. As I bent over to water the planter I saw it, that darned snake. It was resting on a large granite stone next to the planter of impatients.

“Say goodbye, Snake,” I said to the unwanted reptile. I reached down and grabbed that snake right behind the head, just like I used to do when I was a kid. I got him. I held the snake by the head. He coiled his cold, rough body around my arm. His red and black tongue licked the air, flicking in and out, gathering whatever information it could about his captor. It was me against him. Man vs. snake, an ancient battle. A battle that goes back as far as the Garden of Eden. I held on as memories of my younger days flashed through my head. Days when my friends and I would go into the woods trying to catch snakes, turtles, and maybe a little trouble. I adjusted my grip on the snake and realized that it was over, that snake was mine.

I took the snake to a nearby woods where we have seen a lot of wildlife. I released it next to some dead brush that had piled up along a small pond. “Tell your snake buddies not to mess with the Ol’ Snake Catcher,” I said to the snake as I watched the scaly pest make its way under the brush. In my head I was a kid again, "don’t mess with the Ol’ Snake Catcher" I thought.