This evening I arrived home to a present on my dining room table and a note from my Mum.
"Sarah - for your use. Please return box and tool. X Mum."
It's a snake deterrent and it looks like one of those solar garden lights. Apparently you dig it into the ground (hence the tool) and it sends out vibrations that will keep the critters away. Mum's been on about a particular tiger snake for a week now. She wants gaiters while she's hanging out the washing. I don't blame her.
"It's five foot long. The first time I saw it, it saw me first, on the back verandah. It was watching me. I threw a brick at it and it went away but it came back the same day."
I'm writing this snake as 'it' but both of us automatically referred to it as a 'he' because such a deadly thing surely couldn't be a 'she' now, could it? Ha.
Today Mum threw a shovel at the snake and hit it and the snake came back in the afternoon.
"It's probably got plenty of frogs for food down in the swamp," I said. "Maybe he's coming up to the house to bask in the sun and warm up."
This swamp. We live on the primary dune back from the inlet. Originally the whole area would have been a waterway from the hill to the briny but over the last century the swamp has had the life drained and cultivated and fertilized the hell out of it. The swamp just below our cluster of abodes is the last bit so it has become a concentration of tiger snakes. On growing up, the swamp was the place to chuck our secrets into because no one would ever find them in there. Back then the boronia grew in scented clusters before the blackberries got in and
... far out Sarah, this is a whole new post ... forgive my bullrushes stream of consciousness and let's get back to the snakes, shall we?
Spending time in New Zealand was great for a few snake reasons: one can stumble into a ditch barefooted looking for cress with not a worry in the world. Plus you can tell kick ass snake stories and people will listen open mouthed, whereas in Australia, everyone has a better snake story than the one you have just told.
The thing about where I live now is that snakes come into the house. I nearly stepped on one recently, coming out of the bathroom with not much on. Snakes are no fun in the house. I usually end up on the table. Hopefully there is a phone up there. When there is, I ring my Dad to come around and shoot it. (Bless him. He'll come around in his shorts and thongs and pull aside cardboard boxes and furniture until he sees the baby tiger, cock the .22, sigh 'poor little bugger' and pull the trigger.)
No, I'm not like my Mum, who will try to shoo them away, nor like my Dad, who will pull apart wood heaps with his bare hands looking for the tiger who is seeking refuge in there. When I was a kid on this same property I was over where that same snake was today and I saw a sleeping dugite, beautifully coiled like a dust bin lid. Mum said to me, "Get the snake chain, Sarah."
The snake chain was an axe handle with three foot of heavy chain attached to it with fencing wire. It hung next to our back door underneath the raincoats. It was the only tool I've ever come across that is specifically designed to kill snakes.
Reading back on this, I realise I may sound a bit hysterical. Hell yes, I've felt hysterical when sitting on a table for hours on end. I've looked at my feelings about venomous snakes; the sex/death/teenage dream sequence stuff and then I think, 'Nah, I still don't like the fuckers in my house.'