Rattlesnakes and remembrance

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2022

It was lying there in the sun on our cracked driveway.

Though it was belly up and not moving, I was still a little hesitant to approach it at first. I stopped the car and walked up to the critter to confirm it was what I thought it was.

Yep, it was a rattlesnake. It was not a huge one, maybe a couple of feet long. I looked around. Our grass was pretty recently cut, as were the neighbors’ yards and the ball field across the road. Though there were visible pine trees, they were far enough away that I was surprised this fella had traveled as far as he did, especially if it was just to sun himself on the pavement.

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I suppose a hawk or similar raptor had snagged him, then lost its meal as it flew over our house. Maybe a cat or possum had found it, and discarded it in our drive after being startled or simply distracted by something else.

I didn’t know how it had wound up in its current location, but here it was.

The snake was definitely dead, but there was still movement. Ants and a few other insects were scurrying across it. They were taking advantage of the sustenance provided for them, whatever its source.

Deftly excising portions of their upcoming meals, they carried them off in orderly lines into the grass. As I have often done with ants and such, I admired them as they went about their duties, with a single-minded purpose for the greater good of their colony. Each ant that carried food took more than just enough for itself, carrying as much as it could lift, or at least as much as it pulled from the source.

After watching this play out for a few minutes, I’m sure I tossed or booted the retired reptile into the yard in the same direction the insects were traveling — the rest of the family would be home soon, and I’d have to move it then, anyway.

Oddly enough, I remember that was back in the spring of 1988, as the days heated up into the first waves of summer. I can see so much of it so clearly, still, almost as if looking at it in photos or video. But there is also so much I cannot remember. Again, it’s odd.

I think it’s the same for all of us. We pay intense attention to the things that grab our interest. I know people who can tell you the career stats for certain athletes; details of outfits worn at special events decades ago; what song they learned first on an instrument; the VIN number of their favorite or first vehicle; or the exact time of day when their child said his or her first word.

I know esoteric details from books or movies, useless trivia, and when I saw a dead snake. That snake incident still comes to mind occasionally, even though it’s been 34 years. The juxtaposition of life and death on the pavement reminds me that some things end, some things go on.

Two quick things to keep in mind — One, God is the giver and sustainer of life. Life includes birth, death, and everything in-between … and afterward. And, two, God is good. We don’t always understand how those things work together, but I believe they do.

And that’s something I definitely have no trouble remembering.

Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com