It’s hard to believe that in the Time of Plague, someone went to a lot of trouble to find me, and offer me a job. There are some things I have that few people have, certifications that are esoteric to the industry I spent twenty-seven years in, and there was Echols County. It’s not easy to get to Echols County, even if you want to get there, and few people do.
There aren’t many people there, and those who there, are honest, hardworking people who aren’t looking to boost the local economy with tourism. Mostly, they like the woods, and they like being left alone, and if there is anyone alive who speaks that language, it’s me.
Over the course of about ten years, I was project manager over five different bridge sites over in that county, and the people there remember me as someone who doesn’t wander around in places I have no business, I’m polite, and I don’t ask a lot of questions. So, along with some laminated cards saying I can do things that most people have never heard of before, I can also speak the language.
In the Time of Plague, there is uncertainty. There are people I care about who have lost jobs, and going back to work means they can count on me to help. Someone told me everyone has their price, and the people hiring me went over that price a bit, and I felt like if I ever needed a job, this might be the time. I’m back in the bridge-building business, but working as an inspector. That means no management stuff, and no keeping up with employees. Four on, three off, and no benefits, but I don’t need them because I’m retired.
Echols County is a beautiful place. It’s a lot of flatwoods swamp, and the water in these parts is a clear reddish-brown color, from all the tannic acid in the soil. They grow pine trees here, a lot of them, and also moonshine and marijuana. People here will give you the shirts off their backs, but don’t ask where the shirt came from. Mostly, people here are law-abiding, nature-loving, mind your own business people.
One of the strongest enduring myths around these parts is the attributes of the Cottonmouth. People will tell you this snake is highly venomous, incredibly aggressive, and will chase you. Also, it will chase you. Not only that, they will chase you. From Texas to Florida to South Carolina, there’s the story of someone who fell while water skiing, and when they pulled the person from the lake, Cottonmouths were still attached to the dead body.
In recorded history, there have been two people killed by Cottonmouths, and both of those are questionable.
So, here’s a video of me chasing one out of the road. At no point in time does this animal to anything but try to defend itself, and then run for its life.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.