Mama Remembered: The Grand River and a pesky little snake


I can remember Mama telling this story to me.  She was a great story teller.  I think she was about seven or eight years old when this happened.  It’s hard to keep track of where they were and what age she was because they moved often from farm to farm where they either rented a house and fields or worked as hired hands.

Another slice of life from Mama’s book I Remember:

Grand River ran between our house and Trenton.  The river came out of its banks every time we had a hard rain.

One Saturday Dad went to Trenton for groceries.  He drove a team and a farm wagon.  It started raining while he was gone and by the time he got back to the foot of the hill we lived on, the water was almost touching the bottom of the wagon bed.

That river always came up fast.  I remember being down in the field where Dad was ploughing, along the river.  It had been raining up the river some place because the river began to rise.  In an hour’s time it was lapping up over the bank.  Dad chained the plow to a tree so it wouldn’t be washed away and he, the horses and I left for home up on the hill.  In two hours time the whole bottoms were covered. 

A little snake about 6 or 8 inches long followed us toward the hill.  I looked back and saw him.  I threw clods of dirt at him and he would run down in a horse’s track.  Then when I went on, he would follow again.  It scared me.  I was afraid that if he got close enough he might bite me.  I don’t know what kind of snake it was.  I finally found a corn stalk that had been pulled up out of the ground.  The mud had dried on the roots, making it as hard as a rock.  I took that and killed that pesky little snake.

Dad laughed at me.  He said the little snake was just trying to be friendly.

It strikes me that parents weren’t as protective of children back then.  Today, I’m sure that she would have run to her father in fear and he would have reassured her and gotten rid of the snake himself.

I’m sure problem solving and self-reliance weren’t even concepts poor dirt farmers thought about.  But, whether they would have known what to call it or not, those concepts were being taught/learned at a very young age.



8 Responses to Mama Remembered: The Grand River and a pesky little snake

  1. C. Beth says:

    Ha! I love the image of a 7-year-old walloping that snake!

  2. Sandra says:

    Beth — My favorite part is what her Dad said and that he chuckled. He was almost 80 years old when I was born and died when I was 7, but I remember him as a kind, quiet-spoken observer of life. I’m sure he was watching her whole ittle drama with the snake play out and admired her for her spunk.

  3. C says:

    No, Sandra, our parenting styles have, for the most part, robbed our children of their own problem-solving abilities. I read a Scott Peck book once (not “The Road Less Traveled” but another…name might come to me later) which made the point that a parent’s duty is to protect his/her children from “non productive pain.” We are to let them figure out the productive pain on their own, else they grow up stunted in problem-solving.

    Simple example: Stay out of playground spat between two six year olds. Don’t rush to solve the situation–let them spat it out so long as it is relatively safe. Someone may go home crying, but he/she needs to figure that out for herself.

    HOWEVER, a playground spat between a first grader and third grader is not productive–there is a power differential that threatens the productivity of the pain. Parents should step in.

    Your grandfather just allowed your mother to assert her own problem-solving ability…good for him! And, yes, it was instinctive and probably unconscious. I think we boomer parents may have missed this boat. C

  4. Sandra says:

    Well said, C. And, Amen!

  5. Hilary says:

    Thanks so much for sharing more of your Mama’s life stories. They’re like a personal history lesson.

  6. Sandra says:

    Hilary — I’m so glad that these are well received, because it is fun for me to re-read them through the eyes of the rest of you. Thank you!

  7. Sleepless in OL says:

    I am so glad that I had some small time to catch up on your blog. This is a great excerpt as always from your Mama’s book. I agree that we are so much in a hurry today that is often easier as parents to do for our children and problem solving has gotten away from them. A good reminder to us all, let the children come up with their own solutions. I will keep repeating to myself Ah! Let them kill the snakes 🙂

  8. Sandra says:

    Sleepless, be sure to let me know what the discussion was right after you told your kids that you were going to “let them kill the snakes”! 🙂

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