One of the first brush fires Mike went on when he was a fourteen year old cadet held an interesting surprise. The fire was just over the line in Greenfield, but both companies were working it. I was not—following my personal rule against Indian tanks based on “Ryman’s Law,” my contribution to the world of physics, which states that water weight in an Indian tank increases one pound per gallon for ever year over forty. Observing and functioning as a quasi safety officer—mainly for my son, was perfectly fine by me.
Mike had donned his Indian tank and was working the perimeter, mindful of my admonitions to stay in the black as he knocked down flames at the head of the fire. Concentrating on the fire, he didn’t see an unusual visitor until feeling something unusual at boot level. He looked down to see a copperhead crawl over the toe and ankle of one of his rubber bunker boots and continue slithering away. A few squirts from the Indian tank encouraged the snake to continue and perhaps expedite its journey elsewhere, location unknown, as Mike certainly didn’t go looking for him. It was certainly an interesting way for him to learn that fires are always full or surprises.