Penelope and her siblings learn about snakes.
The Snake Under the Porch
It was summertime, and we were all sitting on the front porch as the sun was going down. It had been a hot day, but it was a little cooler now. There were six of us Mom (Lois Pickle), Dad (Thomas Pickle), Brittney (the oldest), Me (Penelope or Penny), Derek (the oldest, younger brother), and then Donald (the youngest of us all). We had worked all day in the house and the gardens. It was nice to sit and relax for a while. Dinner was over, and we were enjoying some cool watermelon slices.
"Well, what are you Pickle Kids going to do tomorrow?" Dad asked us.
"Work in the gardens some more and help Mom clean the house," I said, "it's what we do."
"Yes, raising our own food is a lot of work, but it saves money, and it tastes better than store-bought, don't you think?"
"It does taste good the way Mom cooks!" Derek laughed.
"Thank you, I am glad you like it, but I think it's time to go inside and get ready for bed. Tomorrow will be another busy day."
We gathered up all the watermelon rinds and leftovers and put them in a compost pile at the back of the house. When we came back to the front, Dad washed off the porch so ants would not get everywhere or in the house.
"Go back around to the back door; I just cleaned the porch," Dad said.
"Look, I think I saw a snake by the fence!" Derek said he was excited about it.
We all looked but didn't see anything.
"It's almost dark; maybe that's why we don't see it. Let's get in the house before it comes back," Brittney said. She did not like snakes at all!
"Dad, Derek says he saw a snake by the fence just now," I yelled, going in the back door.
Dad came out and looked around, but it was dark, and he did not see anything either. He went back inside and told us, "we'll be careful and look for it tomorrow to see what kind of snake it is."
"I think I will stay inside with Mom tomorrow," Brittney muttered.
We went inside and got ready for bed; tomorrow would be another busy day. I hoped finding the snake would be exciting. Brittney probably would not be outside with us. She does not like snakes. I don't like them either, but if Brittney wants to stay inside, I can be outside for a change. I like that.
At breakfast the next morning, we were all talking about the snake, except Brittney. Dad looked at her; he knew about her fear of snakes.
"Brittney, why don't you stay inside with Mom today and help her with the housework and with Donald."
"OK, Dad, I will do that. I don't want to be outside today."
"Good," Mom said, "I will be glad for the help today; we have a lot to do."
"Better look and make sure the snake didn't get in the house last night," Derek teased Brittney.
"I don't think there's much chance of that," Dad said. "I built this house, and it is tight together, no holes for snakes and critters to get in."
"Good," Brittney said, looking relieved.
"OK, you two, ready to get to work?"
"Yes, Dad," Derek and I say together.
Dad, Derek, and I got up and put our dishes in the sink. We went outside together to begin the work for the day.
"Let's walk around and see if we can see the snake," I said.
Derek and I walked around the yard, looking under the house as far as we could. We looked around the edges of the fences too. When we got to the backyard, we looked around the outhouse and through the gardens, and we did not find it. Dad had been looking too, and he did not find it either.
"Well, we better get started with our chores; I guess the snake is gone."
"OK, Dad, what do you want us to do?"
"We need to feed the chickens, milk the cow, and I know this one is your favorite, we need to pull weeds in the garden."
"I'll feed the chickens and milk the cow. Derek can pull the weeds." I said quickly, and I did not want to get stuck pulling weeds.
"No way, not by myself," Derek shouted. "I'll help you feed and milk, and then we can both pull weeds."
"That sounds like a good idea, Derek," Dad said, sounding surprised. Derek was not always so helpful.
"I have good ideas too, you know."
"OK, let's get started; we'll both feed the chickens," I said.
"Here, you take some of the food, and I'll take the rest."
We got the chickens fed, then went to the cows, and we had two, so we would have enough milk to drink. I like fresh milk. It's good and creamy. We both sat down to milk the cows.
"Stop that!" I yelled at Derek.
"Your shooting milk at me, Mom and Dad won't like that."
"Kids, what's all the shouting about?" Dad asked.
"Oh nothing, just goofing off a little, Dad," I said. "We better get finished and start on the weeds, Derek."
It didn't take long to feed the chickens and milk the cows, but it was already beginning to get hot.
"Maybe when we get finished with the weeds, we can play in the water hose," Derek said.
"Yeah, that would be fun! Let’s go get those weeds!"
"OK, Dad, we finished with the chickens and cows; the milk is in the barn. We're gonna pull weeds now." Derek yelled to Dad.
"Be careful and watch out for the snake!" Dad yelled back. He was in the back of the garden.
So, we started in the front.
"I really do not like pulling weeds!" I said.
"I know, I don't either, but if we hurry, maybe we can get finished sooner."
"We better be careful, though, and not pull up any of the plants; Dad won't like that at all!
It felt like we had been pulling weeds forever! I looked up, and we were almost at the end of the first row!
"We just finished the first row," Derek and I said together.
"I'm glad we are in the small garden and not the big one," I said to Derek.
"Me too, we only have 3 more rows to go, but they are long rows!"
"Let's see who can pull the most weeds, you work on that row, and I'll work on the next one.
We'll see who finishes first and does the best job."
"OK, sis, let's go!"
We got busy, and before I knew it, those two rows were done, and we only had one more row to go.
"That wasn't so bad. Let's get this one out of the way too. Did you see the snake or any sign of it?"
"No, I didn't see anything at all except weeds!" Derek laughed.
"OK, we just finished the last row, Dad!" we both yelled.
"I'm right here," Dad had come up behind us, and we hadn't seen him. We both jumped and bumped into each other.
"Looks like you both have done an outstanding job today.
I am proud of you both. You worked well together."
"Can we go play in the water for a while to cool off?"
"I think that would be alright, stay on the grass and don't get in the dirt. We don't want mud all around."
"OK, Dad, thanks!"
We played in the water until just before dinner.
It was a lot of fun, and we really cooled off.
"Why are you two all wet?" asked Mom coming out of the house and seeing us wet and dripping.
"We finished all our chores, and Dad said we could play in the water to cool off," I said.
"Well, go to the porch and dry off; dinner is ready. Where is your Dad?"
"Here I am," Dad answered, looking at the two of us. "Did you have fun?"
"Yes, Dad, we really did."
"You deserved it. You did a good job today. I could use your help more often."
"OK!" we were happy he liked how we did our chores.
"Go get dry so we can all eat dinner," Dad said.
We got ourselves dry and went into the kitchen, where Mom was setting the food on the table while Brittney was setting out the plates and silverware.
Oh boy! Fried chicken!" Derek shouted happily. He is always hungry!
"Dad will you say 'grace'?" asked Mom.
Dad prayed, and we all said, 'Amen.' We talked about our day, all the work we did, he told Mom how good we worked together and what a good job we did. We were both very happy he liked it.
The food was good as always, and Mom was a great cook.
We had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, fried okra, corn, and green beans. We always had a lot of vegetables because we grew them. Mom sure knew how to cook them too.
"Let's go to the porch for our watermelon," Mom said.
"I don't want all that juice all over the kitchen floor; I just cleaned it."
Dad took the watermelon, and Mom had the knife to cut it, and we all went to the porch. It was early evening and a lot cooler outside than earlier in the day.
We all found places to sit, I got to one of the rockers first, so I was happy. It was on the side of the porch, and I could spit the seeds on the grass.
We were sitting and talking and enjoying the melon and making a mess. You cannot eat watermelon and not make a mess!
I was looking at the ground beside the porch when "DAD" I cried! "DAD!"
"What is it?" Dad jumped up and came over to me, and I pointed to the ground.
"Dad, that is the snake we've been looking for!
It's so big! Mom, come look!"
Everyone gathered around to see the snake, that is, except Brittney; I heard the door slam as she ran inside!
"That is a big snake," Dad said. "It's black and about 5 feet long and pretty big around. But it is not dangerous to us, so we will let it be."
"Let it be?" I asked loudly.
"Yes, let it be. It's a Kingsnake, and it's not harmful to us; it helps keep the rats and critters away from the house and gardens, it also eats other snakes.
This one is a friend we need to keep around. But I want you to leave it alone; it is a wild creature and needs its space."
We watched it glide through the grass and go under the house. I could not help but shiver just a little as I watched it slither away. Maybe that's why we don't have rats or other critters around the house and why it is so big!
"OK, everyone finish up the melon; we have to clean up the porch and clean the kitchen."
"Derek and I will take all the rinds to the compost pile," I said. We gathered up all the scraps while Dad got the hose out to clean the porch.
"That was a big snake," I said.
"Yes, it was; I'm glad it won't hurt us," Derek said. "I don't think we should look for it anymore, though."
"I agree; let's just leave it alone."
We got back to the house and went to the kitchen, and Brittney was just about finished cleaning all the dishes.
"We came to help, but it looks like you are finished," I said. "It was a Kingsnake and not dangerous to us, Dad said."
"I am glad it's not dangerous, but I still don't like it at all! That's why I came inside."
"Thank you for cleaning the kitchen. Where's Mom?"
"Putting Donald to bed, he was overtired and fussy."
"That snake scared me too, Brittney. Derek and I are not going to look for it anymore; we are just going to leave it alone."
"Good, I just hope I don't dream about it tonight."
"Well, think about this, it keeps the really bad snakes away from us and eats all the rats from the field, so those things don't bother us," I said.
"We need to get ready for bed, it's late, and I'm tired," said Brittney.
"We are too. We did a lot today. I liked being outside and working. It was nice."
We all got ready for bed and hugged and kissed everyone good night.
Another good day for 'The Pickle Kids,' I thought as I fell asleep.