I’ve probably mentioned a time or twenty that Bing and I have five children. They are, of course, quite exceptional, or, as Garrison Keillor would say, above average. Three of the said children live in sunny California. The other two are brave Mid-Westerners, residing in Minnesota and Iowa.
The three Californians are somewhat smug about the weather where they live, especially in winter. When we here in God’s Country find it hard to be smug about wind chills of 50-or-so degrees below zero, they gleefully send emails describing their 70-plus degree environs. Nasty children, they.
This past winter (thank God I can say “past,” now that spring has officially arrived – never mind that there still is a snow mountain outside my window that takes up half the church parking lot. I’m sure it will be gone by July. Or at least, August.) Please don’t try to parse that last sentence – it got lost somewhere in the parentheses. As I was saying, before so rudely interrupted by the parentheses, this past winter caused our West Coast offspring to be extra smug. Obnoxious, actually.
I have just returned from visiting those smug children, along with two un-smug-and-oh-so-sweet grandchildren. The grandchildren, Dylan, age almost seven and Molly, age five, are, of course, quite amazing. I know, many of you also have lovely grandchildren. Ours are lovelier. (Oh dear – now I sound as smug about grandchildren as our California relatives are about weather. Mea culpa.)
But I digress.
The point I started out to make is to reassure all of you who have survived these past Polar Vortex months that we are at least one up on California – we don’t have rattlesnakes in our back yards.
Case in point: There are several signs along the route to Dylan’s school announcing, “Rattlesnakes live here,” or words to that effect. Sure enough, when we pulled into the school parking lot, Amy (mother of Dylan and Molly) spied something serpentine curled up on the pavement. “I think that’s a snake,” she quavered. Her fearless mother ventured close enough to get a good look. “It IS a snake,” I replied bravely. “Are you sure? Because I’ll feel like an idiot if I report it and it turns out to be something else,” she said.
“Yes, I’m sure,” I insisted. “I do know what snakes look like.”
So we made a stop at the principal’s office to report the snake and were assured she would call the custodian to take care of it. Custodians in our Iowa schools are exempt from such duties. I’m certain their job description doesn’t include, “Must remove rattlesnakes from school parking lots.”
After we picked up Dylan and visited his classroom, we met the principal on the way back to the car.
“Oh,” she smiled, “our custodian removed the snake.”
Only, she continued, it wasn’t a rattlesnake.
It was a necktie.