She will be fifty when she tries to shoot her first snake. By then she will be tending daily to the slope of lawn behind her property’s cinderblock garage and tiny ranch house. The house was new in 1951, and though she will dislike its rusty well water and damp basement walls, she will take pleasure in the fact that she and her house came into this world in exactly the same year, weathering the Pennsylvania seasons at exactly the same pace. Indeed, summer by summer, her house will come to seem like a silent and companionable sister. So, when the black-bodied snake whips free of the foundation, this sudden disgorgement will feel like an attack.

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