Moonshine and Dog Days



Finally. After an entire year's wait...I met the Moonshiner.

The stars and planets aligned. We were standing in the middle of the lane in front of the cabin, talking about pumps and wells, when Joe broke into a broad grin.

"Here he comes," he said softly. "Right on time."

A battered navy blue pickup rounded the corner, a Z.Z Top look-alike at the wheel.

I was about to meet a local legend, after months of listening to stories about his wild adventures, our paths converged.

I suppose it took a year for him to decide I was all right people.

We stood around the bed of his pickup, drinking beer and talking trash.  Darkness overspread the holler.  Fireflies danced in the fields behind us and one by one, the peeps began to sing.

Mert allowed as how she'd seen another big old black snake in the pond.

"This one didn't chase the dog," she said.



"Hell," the Moonshiner scoffed.  "Snakes cain't hurt you none when they're in the water."

"Huh?" Mert said, clearly puzzled.

The Moonshiner reached in the cooler for another beer and popped the top. At a quick glance, he looks the part- with his long, shaggy gray beard and wild hair. But I like his eyes.  Kind, wise and not above foolin' a couple of city girls.

"Snakes," he said finally, "even your poisonous ones, cain't hurt you if they bite you while they's in the water.  Their venom don't work."

"No way!" I said.

"Sure is," he said, taking a long draw on his beer. "But then you got to be extra careful of snakes between the 4th of July and Labor Day on account of that's when all your snakes is blind."

"Blind?" Mert echoed.

"Yep," he said, nodding. "Sure are.  But their hearing and sense of smell is extra sharp to make up for it. If they bite you during that time, you got trouble 'cause that's when their poison's double strong."

He looked me right in the eyes as he spoke, his gaze never wavering and said, "That's why they call 'em the Dog Days, on account of the snakes."

The Moonshiner was such a spellbinder it was a full 48 hours before I even thought to ask "Dog days? What do blind snakes that have to do with dogs?"

Of course, by then, the Moonshiner was long gone.





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