Snakes alive

May 23, 2017

October 2015

We all need a bit of a hurry up once in a while. 

You just can’t afford to slow down on this rag-tag journey otherwise you’ll wake up one day to find you’ve disappeared because you haven’t changed your Facebook profile photo for two weeks. 

Sometimes all it takes is a sharp brush with death to get you going again — sort of a defibrillator for the soul. 

I used to get my short sharp shock quite regularly on the motorbike — particularly on winter mornings while on a 50 degree angle over black ice. 

Nowadays my defibrillator moment is limited to an embarrassing spill of Heinz Eifel Riesling Spatlese while watching Celebrity Nude Voice Survivor XXX Factor. 

However, nothing beats the defibrillator moment of a real live encounter with imminent death. 

I have always found Australian snakes to provide top quality, world class defibrillator moments. Some people get very blase about snakes. 

They wear thongs and shorts while clambering up and down river banks, or rip up garden bushes and rummage through backyard scrap heaps with T-shirts and no gloves. Not me. 

I’m a long-trousered, workboot, jacket and glove man when it comes to snakes. 

But sometimes you get lazy and that’s when the hurry-up happens. 

Last weekend I was out on a sudden late afternoon stocktake of the beauties of the bush with Prince Finski and Billy the Barking Nazi. 

Stupidly, I just wore sandals on my feet. 

I gasped in wonder at the intricate delicacy of mud-filled hollows carved by four-wheel-drives, the tasteful displays of plastic toys, magazines, butane bottles and nappies so lovingly arranged by our local urban artists. 

They made my heart swell with pride and other feelings. 

As I walk I like to discuss important things with myself. 

Things that nobody else cares to talk about — such as why there is no other word for thesaurus and why, whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories. 

The only other bloke I know who thinks about these things is Canadian dead-pan comedy poet Steven Wright. 

But I don’t see him often enough to chat. 

Anyway I was walking along a quiet leafy path by the river thinking that really, everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time, when I spotted a tiger snake under my foot. 

My foot was poised above the tiger’s head and time stood still. 

A thousand questions flooded my mind. 

Why did I look down at that precise moment? Why was the snake sunning itself on my path at that exact time? Why hadn’t the dogs spotted it? Why is my life about to end on a lonely stretch of the Goulburn River among the tasteful magazines and butane gas bottles? 

I did a sort of world champion soccer victory dance and put my foot down an inch from the head of the napping notechis scutatus, which of course promptly woke him up. 

Naturally, when one is shocked into consciousness, one usually gets out of bed on the wrong side. 

The tiger was grumpy. I walked quick smart down the track and looked back and he was so grumpy he was chasing me. 

He wriggled like an Olympic snake wriggler and he was catching up. 

I did something I have not done in a long while — I ran full pelt, knees up, shoulders back, wide-eyed and obscenity-driven into the great green beyond, heading for home. 

That’s what death does for you. 

It makes you run home very quickly with no time to think. 

Thank-you Mr Tiger, you woke me up too. I

t must be time to change my Facebook profile photo.

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