There is this chunk of sand along the Yuba River that I ave wanted to explore for a long time. So we went this last weekend.
The weekends are not as much fun down there. Not even the part to which we went. It was pretty far upstream. The beach we go to in the evenings is an easy walk, so it gets crowded on weekends. The air is hot even the breeze is hot and dry. The temp yesterday was mild - about 92 I think. There were clouds so it cooled things off. I love hot, dry air. Even in the winter, you know, I'll light a fire and open windows so I can have hot air all around me. Many times I'll be driving with someone in winter, and I'll have the heat on. They are rolling down the windows to get some air... I like it hot.
It was hot this weekend. And the crowd at the beach we usually go to was unusually fat. No not "Phat" but fat. I looked down there and it was like a lost herd of Beluga whales laying in the mountain river. I saw them and I thought 'Look, Wallmart's closed today'." It was so much like the Wallmart people that I decided that second, that from now on, that stretch of beach would carry the name. I decided from now on when I refer to that stretch of river when I tell someone about it, I would call it "Wallmart".
So it would go like this: "Hey, let's go have dinner at Wallmart"; meaning "lets make some sandwiches and go down to Bridgeport (the parking area near that stretch of beach) and swim in the water just upstream from the bridge." So why would we go there at ALL!!!! It's because, when you pull in at 5pm, all the fat drunks and loud bastards are walking out... usually just behind their 'woman' who is carrying the towels in one hand and dragging an ice-chest with the other. In the evenings, on weekdays, it empties out. Then the water becomes clear and calm again, and all that are left are people who like to swim and watch the dragonflies.
So, yesterday... when it was hot, there by the new stretch of beach... Mei An was swimming with her goggles on, as usual. She loves the water. Tynan does too, but he gets cold. Even though the water's been heated along the way by the massive granite boulders that soak up sun and pour out heat. After about 30 miles of that, it's just right.
Mei was looking at the bottom... seeing fish and stuff. This group of teenaged boys, all about 17 years old, came wading upstream. They were loud. They'd been jumping off of boulders into the pools just downstream and now the otherwise quiet stretch of beach is filled with stupid ideas in the form of sound waves.
Two started throwing rocks at each other. Of course they moved apart, which made others at the river afraid to go near them. Their aim was so bad that getting between their ever-expanding gap, or within 20' on either side of them was an invitation for a concussion. I had to say something, "Guys!!! There are small kids in the water, take your rock fight somewhere else...." One of them said to the other two, "Yeah GUYS!". I don't care, they're dumb-asses... But there's something I still love about them, you know. I still want them to be better human beings, or else I wouldn't have said anything to them.
So Mei An was there watching everything, when suddenly, one of the other guys started screaming like a little girl. It was shrill. He was yelling "a snake a snake..... get it away from me....." He was sort of running backwards in the water, tripping on cobblestone river rocks.... I started laughing, then I looked at Mei An. She was intense, and running in the water TOWARD the action. I could see it in her eyes.... in fact there was a cartoon bubble over her head, saying "Snake? Did he say S N A K E ?????" So now there are 4 brave guys gathered around where the poor snake tried to swim, a small cave at the edge of the water. There were teenaged girls (of course there were) just downstream and following, adoringly, the loud obnoxious, rock-throwing girlie men. Tynan was right behind Mei An, but his goggles made him look like a Kamakazie pilot, which he sort of is. Anytime he's close enough to Mei An, you just know he's going to catch a leg or arm or just a mad look because he doesn't do just what she wants.
She got over to the crevasse, going right through the middle of the pansy posse and put a stick out. The snake struck it. She didn't even flinch, but put it closer. The snake began to crawl out and she made a ninja move and had it by the neck, dropping the stick with the other hand and catching its mid-section before it touched the water.
Her goggles were up on her forehead, and Kamakazie was just behind her going "YEAH". Mei An looked like like she'd just landed on the aircraft carrier for more fuel before going back out again. The shrill boy standing in the circle of teenagers crowded around her said, "She caught it. She picked it up, she's a BEAST" (which is a compliment and she knows it.) The look on her face said, "the world's just a little safer now..."
We let it go after looking it over. I knew she wanted to keep it. This was a very pretty snake, I think a gopher snake, about a month old, maybe two. An hour went by and I heard her going, "Dad! I got another one. It bit me." All I could think about was, "This one's going to be a rattler. Not a good thing." The Western Diamondbacks around here are responsible for messed up dogs, horses and people.
She knows the difference. She's spent hours studying them online. I asked, "did it break your skin?" She said, "No." It did. It was another small gopher snake about the same age as the first one. They have rows of needle sharp teeth, but small teeth. About 1/64th of an inch long. Almost microscopic. She had a large oval where the thing had unhinged its jaw and snagged both top and bottom rows of teeth onto her arm. There were red dots of blood coming out... She said, "It's ok dad, it doesn't hurt." I rinsed it with river water which made it hurt.... Later I asked her, "Why didn't it bother you to be bitten by that snake?" She said.... "I like snakes...."
I thought about that for a couple miles as we drove. I said to her, "You know Mei An. When you love something that much, even when they hurt you, it's ok. You'll still hold them and wait, because you care about them...." She made this great face and said, "Yeah. He couldn't help it, he didn't know I wasn't going to hurt him." I told her not to forget that.
So now Kamakazie and Mei An have a third snake living in Reptile-World. As the teenagers were wading back downstream one of them said, "I could have caught it, I've caught snakes before..." Uh... ok.