The miracle on Nebraska Avenue

A number of years ago, many complained about the exhaustive, tedious and extremely long process that was the “Nebraska Avenue project.”

Remember that time period, when the trees were cut down, the area of the street became a giant 14-block hole and construction workers feverishly toiled for nearly two years?

Sure, we bellyached (especially those of us who live along that stretch) – we had to park in our back yards, the noise was substantial, our houses and buildings shook when the major work was being performed, sometimes the utilities were shut off.

Complaints aside, many good things resulted from that project – including an unforeseen and possible miracle.

Today, we have a beautiful new street that is free of potholes and ancient brick. We no longer are the victims of incessant flooding every time a little rain comes down.

But the miraculous result? It’s amazing. Get ready for it. You’ll never believe it.

Ever since the Nebraska Avenue project, our 14-block neighborhood is now free of snakes.

As long as I’ve lived on Nebraska Avenue, which has been more than 20 years now, I can only remember it as “snake alley.” I’ve written about it before – how they were so prolific that neighbors found snakes hanging from their front porches like Christmas lights, another neighbor had to suspend a siding job because of the massive snake nest they found while taking off the old house covering, and how on a Saturday the lawnmowers in the neighborhood would suddenly come to a stop and we’d hear someone yell out the tally of how many snakes they’d just hit.

A neighbor down the street said he averaged about 20-plus snakes in his house a summer. I’d say we probably had at least one a month.

Let’s never forget about the time I opened a basement window, not realizing the screen had been temporarily removed for repair. That resulted in a nest of snakes plummeting onto my couch and me trying to beat them all to death (while I tried to ignore the symptoms of a heart attack).

And of course, there’s the time that snakes fell on top of my head while I was exiting the house, as they had apparently been sunning themselves on the door frame above.

Yes, Nebraska Avenue has historically been plagued by snakes. If a person let their grass grow too high – you could literally see the blades part as the lines of living nightmares slithered across the area.

A neighbor and I chatted, one summer afternoon, as the work crews created a large amount of noise and vibration deep inside the 40-foot hole next to our front steps.

“You know, with all that commotion down there, maybe they’ll just scare away all the snakes,” the neighbor said. “Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a one since the construction started.”

That realization was the same for me. I had crushed two small ones in the laundry room earlier that spring, but hadn’t waged war against any since.

Winter came, spring arrived, summer was again here and the Nebraska Avenue project moved further to the north. We were given limited street access to our house and soon the project started to look like it was finally going to come to an end.

Our front yards were filled in with dirt and grass was put down.

Finally, the last of the barricades were packed away and Nebraska Avenue was proclaimed to be a beautiful new thoroughfare in this part of town.

I planted that first garden, after the project, and constantly waited in fear to encounter a nest that housed dozens of snakes. I never saw one.

The siding on our house was replaced – and despite all the years of seeing those dang snakes slither up under the old, not a snake was found when it was taken down.

This year’s garden is completely snake free – again — and I haven’t encountered a snake in the house for several years.

The same goes for the neighbors – they marvel that there are no more issues whatsoever. We are officially living in a snake-free zone – I think it’s worthy of a street sign declaring it so.

“You think they just were traumatized by all the noise and everything and went away?” the neighbor asked me. “I mean nobody, along the entire 14-block area, or on Burlington Avenue, are seeing any snakes anymore. Not that anyone is complaining, I just think it’s really strange. A good strange.”

I couldn’t be happier. Wherever they went, I’m glad they moved on. Why they were in that area in particular, I don’t think any of us will ever know. What made them leave is a mystery.

I guess for now, I’ll just call it the miracle on Nebraska Avenue.


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