(Keep in mind these parts are rough drafts)
Having decided on a plan of action I moved closer to the snake once more. As I did the snake let forth its maraca sounding rattle again. I looked around and beyond it this time. I needed to know just how much room I had for movement. It looked like the area beyond the snake was not too thick for movement; for at least 10 foot. This was good since if I moved it, I did not want to be standing in its spot wacking at bushes when it came back. I considered just taking a swing at the snake with my wooden machete but feeling the blunt edge of it changed my mind. It might be good for bending over small bushes and plants but it was not likely going to completely sever the snake into two pieces.
Now within 4 foot of the snake its rattle was loud. Loud enough it make it hard to concentrate on moving forward. I wanted to run! I did not. Instead, I just tried to focus more on the snake, watching it carefully as I turned the wooden machete around, seeking to use its flat side to scoop up the snake and fling it. Slowly, I edged the machete blade forward, inching it toward the snake, waiting for the snake to strike. Three foot away, no strike. Two foot away and no strike. One foot away; still no strike. I was beginning to think this snake was not going to attack the stick and I would be able to easily scoop it up and fling it, when as if reading my mind, the snake did strike.
The speed in which it hit the wooden machete was so fast it was almost instant. It seemed the snake was just sitting there making noise and then it was biting the machete. I really did not see it move. My first thought was to back away but, before I could do that, something inside me decided on a different course of action. Quickly the wooden machete was brought up and swung to the left. The snake held onto it, not relinquishing its death grip on it until the swing was nearly done. When it let go, it went flying. However, it did not land in the creek as I had planned. It flew all the way to the other side. The sound of the rattle going with it; until it landed in a group of bushes, on the other side. Then there was silence. I was pretty sure as big as that snake was that it was not dead; more likely it was just stunned and there was no way I was going to wait around to find out. I began to move forward and then noticed where the snake had been lying. There was a hole there with small eggs in it. It now occurred to me just why the snake had not moved away. It was guarding its young and would, in all likelihood, return as quickly as possible to do so again. I ran quickly to the next bunch of bushes ahead and began wacking at them as hard as I could. I did not want to be around when mama came home.
Life seems to have a habit of putting our greatest challenges just before our greatest rewards and this day seemed to confirm that. It was not even a half mile more upstream before I ran into a pond. Is was a small pond, mind you, but still a pond and now I had an answer, but looking at the pond I noticed that at the far end was an opening. This told me that while the creek may have come from this small pond, there was something further up that was feeding the pond. Seeing this brought to my mind something you often see in many books. You know, that part where the hero of the story thinks that perhaps it is best turn back and leave well enough alone. Not saying I am a hero by any means, although at the moment I did feel slightly hero-ish, for having braved the thorns and snake alone. Just saying, the idea of turning back seemed like it might be a good one to make because, in those books, not turning back always seemed to lead the hero into trouble.
I felt incredibly brave and lucky to have made it this far today. I certainly had an adventure already and had decided that I was going to take a different way back home so, to my mind, there was absolutely no reason I had to continue on. However, being able to see the opening at the far side of the pond beckoned to me. I seemed to call me, dare me, to find out its secret. I figured it was not that much further might as well go take a look. So yes, you can classify me as one of those dumb heroes in books you’ve read. I knew better but still went forward.
I followed the pond around to its other side and as I drew closer I began to make out the details of the opening. The opening sat up perhaps 10 foot above the pond and was nearly closed off from rock rubble on both sides of the opening. The water that came through was forced like from a waterslide by gravity. As I crested the small hill I saw what lied beyond. It was, to my surprise, an even bigger pond. This pond was nearly four times the size. It had a very picturesque quality to it. It looked as if God himself had decided to pay special attention to it. The trees and plants seemed to be placed in the perfect places and the centerpiece of the whole scene was perfectly contrived. The centerpiece of this pond was the waterfall at the far end. Yes, I said waterfall. It was a rather unexpected find. I know that waterfalls can be found virtually anywhere. Really, I do realize this. But I had never seen one in Iowa.
Before I continue, let me state for the record, that I have lived in Iowa all 12 years of my life and realize the many mis-conceptions people have about this state. People often think of Iowa as all farmland. Growing up on Davenport, a city of over 100k population, I have yet to see any farm. I am sure they exist, I just have not seen them. People also think with all the farmland that Iowa must be flat. I have never lived in any neighborhood that has not had hilly roads. In fact, I have seen many neighborhood kids riding down those hilly roads on their skateboards. Kinda keeping my fingers crossed in hopes I might get a skateboard for my next birthday. And lastly, people often think of flooding as being the only possible natural disaster that can happen in Iowa. It should be noted that Iowa lies in tornado alley and the Mississippi river lies on a fault line, therefore even earthquakes are possible.
So, I guess, what I am trying to say is that finding a waterfall here should not be all that unexpected. It is not outside the realm of possibility. The waterfall was not all that tall. Not anything like Niagara falls, by any means. It was perhaps 50 foot tall. But it was still a marvel to see. Perfectly framed by the lake and trees. I wanted to go to it. I felt drawn toward it but looking at my watch I saw nearly 4 hours had passed since my journey had begun and if I did not head back now, I risked being in the woods at night. It would have to wait, for another day, another time. Hopefully a time when I could bring others.
Casting one final glimpse of the scene, perhaps in hopes of burning its beauty into my mind, I reluctantly turned for home.
© 2011- J.B. Thomas