S-S-SILENT AND DEADLY

CLOSE EN­COUN­TERS OF THE SNAKE KIND ARE NEVER A GOOD IDEA AT HOME OR ABROAD, UN­LESS YOU HAVE A SPARE PAIR OF SHORTS

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | TUGBOAT TALES - WORDS: ASHLEY ROBIN­SON

Snake sea­son is well and truly here, with the sneaky bug­gers on the move and re­mind­ing me of how ter­ri­fied I am of them. I would gladly swim around Old Woman Is­land and brave the threat of the ru­moured tiger shark fam­ily that re­side there, or in the lo­cal canal where bull sharks al­legedly rule, than walk through long grass bare­foot in fear of some­thing far more sin­is­ter: a Joe Blake. Strangely, as a kid grow­ing up on a pineap­ple farm, I was trained by my Dad in the art of han­dling snakes. Not at first, though. I think the day I turned around from my trip to school be­cause I saw a green snake cross­ing the road and came home cry­ing was the day my dear old Dad de­cided I needed some ed­u­ca­tion in iden­ti­fy­ing and deal­ing with deadly snakes on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. He was pretty good at it. Un­like the re­lo­cat­ing of snakes these days, he dealt with them swiftly like crack­ing a whip, which was an art in it­self. I un­der­stand these days we are more aware of the eco sys­tem and how na­ture works. Whereas in the 1960s, we were aware that we needed our chick­ens, eggs and, more im­por­tantly, pet dogs and horses than gently re­lo­cat­ing a brown snake to a more friendly en­vi­ron­ment. Dad’s re­lo­ca­tion of deadly snakes usu­ally in­volved head trauma for the snake and a quick burial. Not so for pythons or green snakes. They were just ush­ered away from the chook pen to an­other part of the farm. I got quite good at it. Un­til one day I caught what I thought was a python and was han­dling it and show­ing off to my mates un­til Dad saw me and asked me why I was car­ry­ing a tiger snake around with me. Ac­tu­ally, it was an east­ern tiger snake that looks a lot like a python that could have brought my short in­glo­ri­ous life to a pre­ma­ture end. I think that was the last time I touched a snake and may be the last time I needed to change my undies as well. I have been ba­si­cally ter­ri­fied of them ever since – apart from a trip to In­dia when a mate in­sisted I go to a snake charmer, which was the next time I nearly filled my shorts, and it wasn’t from the vin­daloo. That was ter­ri­fy­ing, but I was for­ti­fied by a few King­fisher beers which did help. How it worked was that we went down this back al­ley and found this old dude with a flute and a cane bas­ket. He didn’t speak English and ges­tured to me to sit down in front of him, which I re­luc­tantly did. He then handed me a python that he put around my neck that looked like it was dead. But as soon he started play­ing his flute, it was all hap­pen­ing. The python came to life, mov­ing gently around my shoul­ders and neck. The co­bra started out of the bas­ket, danc­ing to the mu­sic, with the end re­sult be­ing that it was an inch away from my face – that close that I could feel its breath. Did it fix my fear of snakes? Def­i­nitely not. If we get one in our yard, I’m first to the phone to ring snake catcher Mark Neath. Best money I ever spent.

“THE CO­BRA STARTED OUT OF THE BAS­KET, DANC­ING TO THE MU­SIC ...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.