J and I are proper romantics when it comes to trees; we love them in all their sizes and varieties which has led to one or two minor inconveniences around the house. A good example is our Jacaranda, it’s growing into a magnificent specimen and at this time of the year the flowers create a beautiful mauve haze that now towers above the house . . . and the pool! The flowers cascade down like a mauve blizzard that necessitates sweating over the yard broom several times a day and just as many sessions with the pool net.
Now, I’m the meticulous, pedantic one who will forgo the cooling pleasures of the pool until the last bit of debris has been cleared. J, on the other hand, is much more sensible and gets right in there and makes her contribution by swooshing stuff into the skimmers. I keep telling her that ‘one of these days you’ll get stung by one of those half-drowned wasps or bees’, but it makes no difference – she’s always in there first!
By now you should be asking yourself what this has to do with goat’s poohing on the carpet, and I have to admit, absolutely nothing! It got your attention though, didn’t it? (I seem to remember it came from a Goon Show skit)
Anyway, back to the tale. There was J blithely paddling about in the water and doing her janitorial duty when there was a muffled ‘Bloody hell! That’s not a twig, it’s a bloody snake!’ or words to that effect. Despite her lack of specs, she wasn’t wrong; there amongst the flowers was a very pretty, very desperate and pretty venomous Ottoman Viper! Now, neither of us are scared of snakes but consider this for a moment – if you were a desperate snake, swimming for your life with some myopic giant creating tidal waves and the only safe refuge was said myopic giant’s head – what would you do? Exactly!
It didn’t come to that because I managed to persuade the snake to clamber onto the pool net before assisting it on its way to safety. Good job I hadn’t given in to temptation and taken the plunge as well!
Truth be told, J has a thing about snakes, she attracts them in the same way as that Medusa woman from Greek mythology (‘My little nest of vipers’ is one of my terms of endearment for her). I even have a picture of her on a sand bank in the Orinoco River in Venezuela with a young, male anaconda draped around her neck! And then there was the time she followed a big Whip Snake into our downstairs loo before realising her mistake and backing slowly out and shutting the door! At the time I’d never seen a Whip Snake and knew nothing about their temperament otherwise I might not have been so keen to act the gallant hero and escort it from the premises.
Whip Snakes are generally greyish or greenish, can be up to 4-5 mts long and are very slender. Here in Okçular, for some reason, they are jet black with a blood-red throat and I’ve seen them up to 7 mts! The good news is that they are not poisonous – the bad news is that they are extremely aggressive, will attack if you piss them off and they can ‘jump’ around 2 mts! You do not want to get bitten because although not poisonous they can easily break your skin and you could well get an infection. My best advice if you find one in your downstairs loo – open all doors and windows and go stay with your neighbours for a few days! Snakes generally behave very politely and leave before you see them, they do a lot of good stuff like keeping vermin under control and the occasional bad thing like eating sparrows, so do be kind to them and leave them be.
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü