Monday, 19 January 2015

Ok, it’s been a week on the farm, after one night (alone) in Bangkok—which didn’t seem to make this grown man particularly humble—in fact that one night was particularly sleepless, and not for the reasons that it might have been some years ago; no this sleeplessness was caused by a loud and thoughtless middle eastern family who were running back and forth in the hallways of this boutique (read cheap, but large rooms) hotel until, at about one, I opened the door and told the dad that they were noisy—he actually stood in his bulging-belly bath towel and considered, and then said “ok, sorry.” And then they were quiet.

But the farm week has been full of snakes, yes, snakes.

Day one: taking the boys to school, a large, thick black snake with a head the size of a small fist lay asleep on the side of the road. I took the lads to school and hurried back to see the snake. It had been hit by some vehicle and had its head wounded, but I wasn’t sure how wounded. I wanted to nudge it off the road. Always in the back of my head is the unbelievable statistic that of the 160 kinds of snakes here, half are poisonous. So I was cautious, and the poor guy was dead.

Day two: Kaeo finds a large snakeskin, about 1 meter and a half long and very thick. It was near our field, by the avocado trees. It stank of cobra.

Day three: I have finished cutting the suckers out of the tops of some of the older fruit trees (Lam Yai), and I take a break and walk over to where Kaeo found her impressive cobra-skin. Keats is with me, Heathcliff rides over on his new, too-large bike. “Stop Keats” I say, seeing a skin of a snake and not wanting to startle the creature if it’s still nearby. Bending down to examine it, I begin to imagine its true size. This baby is two and a half meters and as big round as a motorcycle tire in the middle. This is a very large snake. It is two trees away from Kaoe’s snakeskin tree, again under an avocado tree. While we examine I see another skin some ten meters away in the field. It’s only just over a meter.

Day four: another two skins in the field. This is crazy! I’ve never seen so many sheddings at one time in one place. The smallest is a meter; the largest is our two and a half meter giant.

Day five: no snakeskins, but I saw two live snakes; one beauty with a black mask and a red neck that, when I tried to lift it gently with a stick, its neck puffed out like a cobra, but it didn't go wide, it went narrow (the opposite of a cobra’s neck, if you can imagine). The other was green and thick and very, very fast.

So day six is here and imagine that, had no idea what the date was and it’s the 26th. Boxing Day. Last night the boys had their first wiener roast on an open fire in the yard. It was much fun.

Tomorrow, the in-laws arrive—Chur-iste, not my favorite day of the year I can tell you—I’d rather swim with snakes.

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