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SENDEE-PEED Sighting

February 5, 2009

When I picked up Graysen from daycare last week he greeted me with excited eyes.
“WE SAW A CRAWLY THING TODAY!” he exclaimed.
“REALLY?” I said, echoing his excitement, “WHAT SORT OF CRAWLY THING DID YOU SEE?”
“IT WAS A (insert something multi-syllabic and unintelligible here)!”
“WOW!” I said, befuddled and bemused.
Graysen’s eyes were positively sparkling as he nodded, sure of himself and the whatchamacallit crawly thing.
That’s when Edna, Graysen’s daycare provider, came to the rescue with a reminder of what he’d really seen.
“YEAH!” said Gray, grasping the word, “IT WAS A SENDEE-PEED!”
I tried to resist my automatic reaction which is, well, ew. I may not be a fan of those wriggly arthropods but far be it for me to dampen Gray’s enthusiasm over his undeniably thrilling discovery. I’d rather my kids come to their own conclusions about things, generally. Encourage free thinking.
But this was a centipede we were talking about, and though I tried to reserve judgment I failed. Miserably.
“Ew!” I said, adding, “Mommy doesn’t like SENDEE-PEEDS!”
In case he couldn’t tell from the ew.
Living in semi-rural Eldorado we’re used to wild things. Coyotes cut across our property and hawks linger in our willow tree. Once I saw a pronghorn walking through the easement just beyond what we call our “back 40” (which is really more like a back .75). Rabbits abound, as do mice. We marvel at owls and vultures and “run-roaders.”
We love living as close as we do to the comings and goings of wild animals, and generally accept the fact that this definition also extends to those of the six- and eight-legged variety. Out of respect for nature, and in keeping with my live and let live philosophy, we have a household catch-and-release program that benefits the plethora of spiders, moths, ants and roly-polies that find their way under our doors. We scoot stink bugs back out when they lumber across the threshold (offending them greatly in the process) and catch the rest in cups to relocate them to the front yard.
One legless creature has also benefitted from this program. Last spring, Gray and I arrived home after dark one night to find a small surprise on the floor of the living room. We’d hurried in, forsaking lights, so Gray could use the potty, and while waiting for him I picked a dirty towel off the bathroom floor to take to the laundry.
On my way back across the house with the towel in hand I saw what looked like a ribbon on the floor. I hadn’t noticed it when I’d passed by before on my way to the bathroom.
Before I bent to pick it up I turned on the living room light, then stood there, confounded by what I saw.
The ribbon had turned into a snake.
Without thinking, I dropped the towel over it then just stood there, not sure what to do next. I didn’t know what kind of snake it was and for all I knew it was a rattler. The markings were similar. The only thing I did know was that it was very small — a baby that had likely squeezed under the front door.
The best I could think to do was sit my very curious (and fearless) son atop a barstool and grab a Pyrex bowl from the kitchen. Then I quickly lifted the towel and placed the dish over the snake, which was likely as stunned as I was. Aside from coiling a bit more tightly, the snake didn’t budge.
Once it was captured, Graysen and I moved in for a close look. The verdict: it was a baby bull snake. Great to have around to catch mice. Not so great to keep under glass in one’s living room.
So we released it, much to Graysen’s dismay. He tried to make a case for keeping the snake but, well, lost. Frankly, I love snakes … but prefer that they live outside. The snake preferred that too.
Centipedes, however, are a different matter entirely. They show up in the house, now and then, and when they do they always meet the same fate. I don’t try to catch them anymore. I learned my lesson years ago after my now ex-husband and I spent over an hour trying to wrangle a wayward centipede that, kid you not, ducked behind furniture whenever it saw the beam from our flashlight. It was smart. And … it scurried.
Ew.
We ended up having to kill the dang thing lest it be footloose and free to bite whomever it pleased (I was pregnant at the time and was in no mood for such shenanigans).
My most memorable centipede moment, however — with apologies in advance for graphic content — happened one night when Graysen was a newborn. I was sitting in bed happily reading and oblivious to danger while Graysen slept (finally) by my side. Soren walked in to ask me a question and … went absolutely pale.
“Mom!” he said, pointing. Words failed him.
I looked over my shoulder and there, inches from my head and rearing out into space for another level of footing (for all those feet) was the biggest centipede in the entire world.
It soon became the flattest too.
It splattered when I struck it and stained the wall. It later took three coats of paint to erase the mark.
The memory, however, was indelible. I’m pretty tough and can live side by side with all sort of crawly things.
But … not those ewy SENDEE-PEEDS.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 18, 2009 7:53 pm

    Oh, me neither. I don’t miss those suckers one bit. They inevitably found a way to charge me when I was nursing or something. Hair on my head officially standing on end!

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