Last month, one son came across the story about St. Patrick chasing the snakes from Ireland. I wondered if there truly were no snakes in Ireland, and if not, why not? If there ever were snakes in Ireland, when did they leave?
I found out. A few days later while “Free Bird” was playing on the radio, I said “Hey, guess what? I found out who chased the snakes out of Ireland. It wasn’t St. Patrick. Can you guess who it was?”
Rock on! But actually it was Bono. OK, not really.
We have two competing explanations. First, a holy man came to Ireland 1500 years ago and converted the Pagans to Christianity. One of the cool things he did was banish the snakes. That’s pretty rocking, if you ask me. Dude was so righteous that all the snakes left.
On the other hand we have one of the great American Southern Rock bands. During their 1975 tour with Thin Lizzy and Horslips a bunch of their drunken roadies heckled the Clancy Brothers by calling out requests for “Free Bird” every three minutes. The smoke from all the cigarette lighters held aloft somehow… OK, I have no idea. But they got rid of the snakes.
What about a third option? How would David Lee Roth handle it? After driving his Camaro into the pool, he might decide that he wants to get rid of all snakes in Ireland.
“Should I crush them? No, I’ll freeze them. I’ll crush and freeze them under two miles of ice. So what if I ruin Canada and most of Europe? When things warm up, the snakes will start heading north but they won’t make it back to Ireland.
“A lot of the ocean water will be tied up in the ice sheets so sea level will be lower. After England thaws but while there are still big glaciers up north, snakes will be able to slither right back into England. The Irish Sea is deeper so there will be enough water to separate Ireland from England. The snakes won’t be able to return.”
That would be boss, wouldn’t it? You know what? That’s what really happened. (Except for the part about David Lee Roth.) The snakes left Ireland during what we call The Ice Age.
I will tell you one thing I like about reality. Make up the craziest thing you can and nature will do you one better.
I’ll tell you something else. We are actually still in The Ice Age. We are simply between periods of lots of glaciers. What we call the last Ice Age is really the last glacial period.