Breadcrumbs

(This is part of the Growing Up In Utah's Dixie series, by LaVarr B. Webb)

 

The most horrifying experience I ever had with a rattle-
snake took place on Lower Kolob Mountain. The family
spent the the summer up there clearing sage brush for a
man named Hopkins. He was trying to establish a dry farm
(cultivated land totally dependent upon natural rain and
snowfall for moisture) on the flat, sandy terraces. Dad and
Hopkins chopped the brush out of the soil, piled it, let it
dry, and then burned it. I helped with the piling and the
burning.

I had received my twenty two rifle the Christmas be-
fore, and liked to go rabbit hunting. One day, Gwen, my
oldest sister, and I walked out across the cleared land to a
section that was still in brush where I thought we would
find some rabbits. I was in the lead as we weaved our way
through the tall sage.

My eyes were generally focused ahead, looking for
rabbits, but once, for some reason, I glanced down at the
ground, and saw a large snake stretched out full length
right beside my foot. I yelled, and jumped back as Gwen
came up behind me wondering what had happened. I
showed her the snake, which, by then, was wriggling to-
wards the closest clump of brush.

It was the ugliest rattlesnake I had ever seen. It had a
bloated body much larger than my arm, and it had no rattles,
just a large black button at the tip of its tail. Its whole
body, including most of its head, was a glazed pink, al-
most flesh colored. It wasn't only a frightening monster, it
was also sickening.

It gave me the impression of just having been skinned
alive, and yet had managed to live. I now realize it had just
shed its old skin. We came upon it quite early in the
morning while it was still cool. It had crawled out into the open
to catch the warm rays of the morning sun to wait for its
new skin to congeal and toughen up. We had stumbled
upon that snake when it was most vulnerable, and, again,
it was a wonder that I didn't get bitten.