From The Publisher’s Desk: We need a new ‘hoe’ in our ozone

9:19 am | October 1, 2012

It used be the killer bees. Now lots of unpleasant things are headed our way.

Not too long ago, USA Today reported that giant Burmese pythons could colonize one-third of the United States, including Northeast Tennessee. “They are moving northward,” said zoologist Gordon Rodda, “there’s no question.”

Well, that’s just great. As if melting icecaps, rising oceans and hotter summer days weren’t bad enough, now we have to deal with 20-foot, 250-pound snakes.

I didn’t really need another reason not to venture out during the hot and humid days of Northeast Tennessee, which we seem to have more and more of with each passing year.Al Gore kept trying to convince us about global warming by telling us about polar bears. The former vice president would have been more successful with that message if he had said, in a calm and dignified manner, “People, there are giant snakes headed your way!!!”

Show of hands for all those who would have taken global warming more seriously if threatened by snakes than polar bears running out of ice. I thought so.

I have no doubt that global warming exists.

When I was growing up, winters were long. Missing weeks – not days – of school for snow was the norm way back when, and we had another mild winter last year.

Gore seems to make a pretty good case about global warming, but I don’t have any fancy slideshows or graphs to prove it. All I know is that it doesn’t snow as often in Northeast Tennessee as it did years ago, and there are some really big snakes on their way. Now that’s an inconvenient truth.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post also reported on this pythons-on-their-way-north problem.

Michael F. Dorcas, a Davidson College professor, told the Post he wasn’t ruling out that pythons could slither their way up from Florida’s Everglades. “Lots of questions remain . . . about whether (the snakes) would be able to survive or not,” he said. “Thermal patterns can change. They might have an ability to evolve.”

I would have rather the professor have ruled it out, but he didn’t. So I’m back to looking for big snakes in my backyard.

Those stories about killer bees scared the bejeebers out of me when I was a tyke, but the swarms have never shown up. (I’m quite pleased about that.)

But I wonder what will happen if pythons start slithering through country gardens.

My grandmother, Verna Stevens, never had any love for the snakes she found in between the corn and beans. Like any good country woman, she knew what to do when she came upon a snake. She took a hoe to it.

Hoes have two purposes – 1) to chop weeds in between rows of vegetables and 2) as the most effective snake killer ever invented.

Killer bees? No good way to kill those things. Even a nasty ol’ hornets’ nest takes some serious thinking. If you’re like me, you get a can of Raid, spray the nest and run like the wind. But snakes, now that’s a different story.

If you’re armed with a good hoe, like my grandmother always was, you can kill ’em. You just start chopping like they’re a weed about to take over the peas and cucumbers. Granted, my mamaw probably chopped up a lot of harmless garter and black snakes in her day, but, darn it, those snakes weren’t supposed to be in her garden.

And let me tell you, a 25-foot python isn’t supposed to be in my backyard either.

So here’s the one thing I know, without a doubt, about global warming: we’re all going to need a bigger hoe.

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