I REMEMBER ONE SUMMER when there were snakes galore on Lake LBJ near Kingsland. We have five kids in our family, and we’d all go swimming in the lake, but when we’d see something in the water—and couldn’t tell if it was a turtle or a water moccasin—we’d jump out. One day as I walked along the dock I saw a huge snake coiled up. I ran up to the house, with all the kids running behind me, yelling “Tattau, Tattau!” to get the attention of my granddad. He got a shovel. And because Ihad found it, I had the glory of keeping closest behind him. He stepped up to the biggest water moccasin I had ever seen, raised the shovel—while I made sure everyone stayed behind me—and as the snake raised itself up and opened its jaws, Granddad split the snake down the middle. He was my hero.

Beginning in the mid-sixties, actress Marcia Gay Harden spent every summer she could at her grandparents’ house in the Hill Country. She is a 1980 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, which awarded her an Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award this year. Her latest film, The Spitfire Grill, won the Audience Award at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival and will be out in August.