Eve she is not

Jim Redwine Featured local columnist

Peg is a born-and-reared Yankee. What she used to know about such places as Oklahoma came from “Gunsmoke” and “The Lone Ranger.” Now she is learning about the Wild West from personal experience.

One recent morning she received an up-close lesson in herpetology. Whereas not long ago rattlesnakes and copperheads were only in Peg’s psyche as metaphors, now she understands why westerners check their boots before pulling them on, and make sure doorways and windows are carefully sealed.

Of course, these precautions also work well with scorpions and centipedes. But Peg’s education about ferocious arachnids and arthropods has been previously addressed in this space. For now our concentration is on snakes.

Peg has always been an avid online shopper and an imaginative and energetic adaptor of household products. This probably stems from her father’s expertise in engineering. Regardless, during our marriage I have often been impressed by Peg’s ability to envision uses for knick-knacks she finds on the internet, most of which originate in China. No, I will not go there.

Anyway, Peg ordered exterior screens for our veranda double doors so that we could benefit from the relentless prairie breezes. The UPS person delivered the box and we let it season until the next morning. Upon opening the box and reading what purported to be instructions, we installed the screens which stretched from the top of the doors to within four inches of the veranda floor. This let in clean, sweet-smelling air but the material could not be stretched to close the four-inch gap. While I had reluctantly entered into the installation as ordered by Peg, I did feel duty bound to point out to her that such uninvited houseguests as scorpions, centipedes and snakes might choose to join us, especially after we went to sleep, if we left the doors open and relied upon the screens to exclude them. Need I say, “I told you so!”?

After spending the better part of an otherwise gorgeous day deciphering the Oriental translation and affixing screens to doors, we stepped back so Peg could admire the effect. Then we ate supper while we talked about the inscrutable mysteries of the magnetic closure on the screens. After supper Peg went to the porch to once again check my work on the screens as I prepared to watch the latest misinformation on cable TV. Then I heard Peg scream, “JIM!” I ran for my 20 gauge as I assumed we had been attacked by some inconsiderate violator of COVID-19 ethics.

“Jim, come here now!”

I eschewed my shotgun and rushed to the veranda doorway where Peg was standing on a chair and pointing a finger at the doorsill where a copperhead was offering to engage with her.

After dispatching the serpent I expected to be allowed to relax on the veranda and admire the prairie view. Wrong! I spent the next hour removing the screens and making sure there was no light coming under the doors. On the other hand, I am fairly confident it will be at least another week before Peg enlists me to modify the entrances to our cabin again.