Yesterday I went out to fill the bird feeders. I had walked right past them half a dozen times as I circled the property with Chloe and had no reason to suspect anything. As soon as I stepped in the fallen seed directly beneath the feeder closest to the house, something moved. I had seen absolutely nothing until then. But crawling away from me as quickly as it could was a juvenile Something Snake. It took a minute to register that it had a diamond pattern on its back and its head was wider than its neck. By then it had found shelter at the base of an azalea, amid several two inch diameter limbs that formed a nice little hidey-hole.
I dropped my bucket of seed and ran around the house to where Keith was blowing leaves (a spring event in our area). Even without his hearing aids, he knew the look and the run and came back with me. With our own version of sign language I explained, and we were both almost certain we were talking about a rattler, one so small (18-20 inches) that it had no rattles yet. He had picked up a two by two and sent me in for the .22 rifle and ratshot. As he stomped around the bushes, I stood out from them with rifle cocked and ready. Ask my boys—with a gun I am death on snakes. Nothing came crawling out of the limbs or leaves, so he picked up his blower, a heavy-duty gasoline model that would make a small snake feel like it had been in a category 5 hurricane, and we went at it again. Still no snake, so we were sure it had crawled away while I had run off looking for help.
After lunch (dinner in the rural South) we were out to finish up the interrupted feeding. As soon as Keith stepped up to that same spot of fallen seed under the feeder, another snake took off. Both of us jumped back, but it was only a garter snake this time, bigger, but not dangerous, and helpful with rodent control. We were instantly reminded about "the A months." Neither one of us had seen either snake despite looking right at the ground. God gave these creatures camouflage and it certainly works. But today as I made my rounds, my eyes never left the ground. My ears stayed open for scaly slithers through the leaves and warning rattles. I may think I am on guard constantly, but now I am on guard in a much more careful way than before.
We need to beware of "the A months" in our lives. We have already been bitten by the Snake, but he is still out there waiting to pump even more venom into our hearts at every opportunity. So what are our "A months?" Maybe it's one of those days when the traffic is particularly bad, you have a flat tire, and then spill coffee on yourself before you even get to work at a job where the boss is imperious and your colleagues unfriendly. Maybe it's an illness that has you ready to nurture your grouchiness instead of trying to put it aside. Or maybe the kids are especially loud while you are dealing with a headache and an air conditioner that's on the blink in mid-July. Whatever it is, be aware. Don't let the snake hiding in the grass get hold of you. Carry a two by two or even a rifle. Do whatever you must to avoid the danger.
We wish we had managed to find that baby rattler. I am happy that he left our yard, but he is still out there in the nearby woods where he can find a mate and make even more of them. The more times you beat the devil, the more times he will leave you alone, at least for a while, but if you let him win, he will come back the more often.
It's an "A month" out there—for the rest of your life. Be careful.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you… (Jas 4:7-8).