Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Just before dinner.

The back garden in the little country town in the middle of nowhere is divided into sections.

The back door leads onto a verandah with a table and four nice comfortable chairs, just right for a beer in the afternoon. Beyond the verandah is a square lawn, fenced off with rose bushes all around the edges in raised garden beds and a raised boxed vegetable garden on the right side.

At the back of this lawn there is an open gate leading to the next section of garden. Out here, a wide expanse of eucalypts with wild limbs, more lawn, less well-manicured, and a clothes line over to one corner.

I was sitting at the table on the verandah, sweating away quietly to myself trying to read a newspaper but only getting it wet. It was only about 39 degrees. I had just opened a very, very cold beer. It must have been 7.30 or so. Round about dinner time. Delicious smells were scrolling out through the wire screen door and saying come and eat me. They always say that.

The shadows were getting longer and one caught my eye as it drew across the opening in the fence. It wasn't a shadow. Shadows don't slither. It slithered along the back, keeping to the fenceline as if not to intrude, did a perfect right hand turn when it reached the side and then kept right on going until it reached the vegetable plot. It was glistening black, about four feet long. It coiled around the back of the vegetable garden, emerged on the far side, returned to the front and stopped. It raised it forward quarters. Do snakes have noses? They must have. This one sniffed the air like a Golden Retriever. Then it poked about a bit distractedly, looking for something.

It didn't find anything. Instead, it ascended the vegetable garden without even seeming to move. Have you seen a snake climb? It is the most graceful motion on earth.

Then it wasn't graceful any more. It flung itself up against the fence comically. Up it flew, using its rear coiled end to project itself upwards. It failed. Three times it tried this. The fence was too high. Disappointed, the snake retraced its journey along the fenceline, a left turn at the back and along the fence to the gateway. It turned right and disappeared. It had to go the long way round.

I finished my beer in the sultry silence broken only by crickets and stopped trying to read the paper. It was full of rubbish anyway.


lucette said...

Your back garden sounds lovely, especially when I look out at my frost-heaved, raggedy, winter-ravaged yard. I'm not envious of the snake so much though--if there are any in my yard they are small and they keep out of my way.

The Food Whore said...

I have to tell you (and should have told you long ago) that in my crazy and intense life, I read your blog for total relaxation.

I love your words, and your word pictures even more. I can see what you see, smell what you smell, and taste what you taste. You just have such a way with your words. They are, in my life, a nice harbor of peace.

But I have to be honest to say that when reading this tonight, my cup of tea shook a little in my hand.

I am deathly, and completely hysterically, afraid of snakes.

Had I been sitting on your verandah and that snake gone slithering down the garden, I would have made a bolt for the car and driven away screaming.

I clearly have issues.

But I do love your stories.

Except maybe not this one so much.

kitchen hand said...

That's two thumbs down for the snakes then!

My eyes never left the snake, FW, and had it come towards the verandah I would have been inside the house and bolted the door like a shot!

Sarah said...

Snakes don't have noses per se, but he was probably "sniffing" the air with his tongue - that's how they "smell" things in the air. To the other commenters, FWIW, snakes like sweet smells, so avoid the perfume if you're going to see one!

Er, now that I've been all geeky, I do like reading your blog. :)