Last year local wildlife officials were called to the Blue Hills south of Boston in response to 911 call alerting to the presence of a timber rattlesnake in a populated area. Officers captured the serpent and released rattler into the Great Bog. My sister called me with this information and I asked, "Do you remember the winter Frunk saw a rattlesnake in the snow?"
"No." Her blunt refusal wasn't surprising, since she had been six in 1962.
I had been ten.
"Frunk and I were walking home. It must have been close to Christmas since it was dark early." New England was renowned for dreary winters. Nights were long and snow fell in November. "When we got to our house, Frunk whispered for me to look at the driveway. I turned my head and he pointed out a wavering shadow in the snow and said it was a rattlesnake."
"A rattlesnake?" she scoffed with a sigh. "You saw a rattlesnake in the winter. In the snow?"
My sister was a lawyer. She was an expert at grilling witnesses, but I was unafraid of telling the truth or a good story.
"Frunk saw it as a snake. I didn't know what it was, but I wasn't taking any chances and we ran into the house. Mom asked what was the problem and Frunk told her about the snake. She shook her head, until she saw the silhouette in the snow. It was about time for Dad to come home and she called the police. It must have been a slow day, because two patrol cars arrived within minutes. Getting out of their cars they drew their guns. Frunk went outside and showed them what he thought was the snake. The oldest cop pointed a flashlight and the snake became a piece of brown paper stuck in the snow. Everyone had a good laugh about it."
"I still don't remember it."
"And I don't remember ever hearing about it until now."
"Oh." I nodded my head, recollecting that Frunk had sworn me to never mentioned the incident and the story died out after a week's ribbing. "Maybe I was just imagining it."
"You and your imagination. Have a good week."
Later that evening I called my older brother. He didn't answer the phone and I left a message about the timber rattlesnake. He never returned my call, because some things only happened in the past and this was one of them.