Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 8


MILL CREEK STORIES

This Old House
The potential standoff between Elvis the
snake and Chubs the attic dweller could
bring peace to the lady of said dwelling.
by Molly Dugger Brennan

People tell me I'm so lucky to live in a
historic house way out in the Shenandoah Valley. These are the same folks
whose knowledge of country living
comes exclusively from their subscription to Country Living magazine.
These are the people that own homes
devoid of "historic quirks." These are the
friends that are, quite frankly, delusional.
Houses older than 100 years are cranky, despite
regular maintenance. Changes in temperature and
seasons send our home into board-bucking spasms.
There's no way you can know about every little crack
in a house this old. Antique boards shrink and swell,
so a tight joint in July will be a critter causeway by
Christmas. While you might not know all the openings that have unlocked as the summer's humidity
gave way to fall's crisp air, I guarantee you that every shivering animal within two miles knows about
them. The first cold snap of the year changes our
house from a cozy abode for two to an apartment
building for a dozen.
There is something living in the attic right now
that must weigh 30 pounds. Gruff and I are still doing
rock-paper-scissors to see who has to go up there and
try to trap the chunky squatter. In the meantime, I
have declared the attic off limits.
Unfortunately, the new tenant has issues. Whatever else Chubby is, he is most definitely terrified of
thunderstorms. We have a tin roof, which I think amplifies rain storms in a lovely way. The attic tenant
disagrees. When thunder cracks, Chubs panics. He

races around the attic, sounding like a lop-sided bowling ball picking up the spare. I feel sorry for Chubby
when he's frightened. Yes, I habitually anthropomorphize animals. Honestly, I'm just one bunny rabbit
away from living in a Beatrix Potter book.
On occasion, our version of Wild Kingdom gets
more serious than a few mice and a fat freeloader. I'm
shuffling to the coffee pot one morning, all while being circled by 400 pounds of hungry dogs. I'm not
awake. Out of the corner of my eye, I sense movement. Slithering along the toe kick of my cabinets is
a copperhead! The mastiff saw it at the same moment
I did and lunged. I grabbed his collar and hollered for
Gruff to get the dogs out of the kitchen. By the time
the dogs were safe and I was wielding a meat cleaver,
the snake was gone, last seen heading for the stove.
Here's where Gruff questioned me, a cleaverbrandishing woman, on whether I was sure it was
a copperhead. Listen to me. Never question a country girl's ability to identify snakes. We are schooled
in herpetology from the time we are toddlers. Once
we start walking steadily, we are sent outside to play
and you just never know what you're going to run
across in the country. By the time I was four, I knew
that black snakes were okay, garter snakes emit an
impressive stench if you handle one, a copperhead's
skin is pinkish, and cottonmouths have an all white
mouth interior and are hostile, even by snake standards. I still remember Grandpa's snake rhyme, "Red
and black, friendly Jack, but red and yellow, shoot
the fellow." My point is, country girls know their
venomous snakes. Do not question me, particularly
in my own home.
OK, the snake vanished. I demand we rip out the
stove and any other appliance necessary in order to
find it. Remember, I'm still clutching a meat cleaver
and in the mood to kill something scaly. Gruff does
not agree to dismantle the kitchen, fearing that a leak
and/or explosion when I mistakenly whack the gas
line is a greater threat than any snake.
For the next week I slammed cabinet doors. I
jumped up and down on the kitchen floor. Cooking
supper became an aerobic activity. Gruff was spooked
that I was chasing shadows with sharp objects. He suffered headaches. He desperately tried to convince me
that "Elvis had left the building." Gruff argued, surely

I still remember Grandpa's snake rhyme, "Red and black, friendly Jack,
but red and yellow, shoot the fellow." My point is, country girls know their
venemous snakes.
8 BlueRidgeCountry.com


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015

The Family Farm is Alive and Well in the Virginia Mountains
7 States of Mountain Treks, Complete with a Beer or Wine Stop
The Photo Essay: Autumn Beauty
Wendell Scott Gets His Due
Weekend: Where the North Carolina and Tennessee Mountains Rub Shoulders
Chillin’ in Chattanooga
Charlottesville to Charleston aboard Amtrak
Great Tastes of the West Virginia Panhandle
Cavender Cabins: Enjoy the North Georgia Woods
From the Editor
Letters / Worth a Click
Mill Creek Stories
The Hike
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Country Roads
Festivals & Events
Singing in the Garden
Guest Column: Liz Belcher
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - B1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - B2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Letters / Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Family Farm is Alive and Well in the Virginia Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 7 States of Mountain Treks, Complete with a Beer or Wine Stop
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Photo Essay: Autumn Beauty
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Wendell Scott Gets His Due
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Weekend: Where the North Carolina and Tennessee Mountains Rub Shoulders
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Chillin’ in Chattanooga
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Charlottesville to Charleston aboard Amtrak
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Great Tastes of the West Virginia Panhandle
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cavender Cabins: Enjoy the North Georgia Woods
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Guest Column: Liz Belcher
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover4
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