Monday, March 30, 2009


This morning's walk through the bush started late. I'd spent the early morning, cool with low cloud and a clearing mist, raking the pebbles. There's lots of pebbles, and although I enjoy the gum leaf scatter, which is easing now the days are milder, I also enjoy the raking. This way today, that way next time. I'd been thinking I was ready to post again.

Perhaps it was the time spent in that almost meditative state, a repetitive gentle sway, focused on nothing in particular, or maybe it was a change in antennae, but as I closed the gate near the water tanks and headed down the bush track behind the dogs, there came a clear thought: We saw another snake today. We saw another snake today?  This was so strong it was as if it were trying to be my opening sentence. But we hadn't seen a snake today, and anyway, it wasn't something I'd pick up and blog on about.

By now the cloud had lifted and the sun was breaking through the canopy and spotting the undergrowth. I was, with fair reason, more than usually sensitive to transition, focusing o
n the little changes, things not there, or not noticed, yesterday and maybe gone tomorrow: a small cluster of Hibbertia, buttercup yellow caught in a sunbeam, and a tiny but proud stem of the pea plant, Bossiaea heterophylla, one of our autumn signals, only inches off the forest floor. I would go back with the camera.

It would have been an hour before we were back at the very spot where the 'thought' occurred - we saw another snake today - and there, in the native grasses just off the track, there it was, not as black and shiny as usual, perhaps about to shed its skin, but quietly still in the grasses, in a patch of warm morning sun. 

Both dogs, ahead a few paces as usual, had walked past, and it was not till I was alongside that I noticed it, a metre away. It was as if time had been breached. We'd seen another snake today. The head was down, but it stayed its full fatness, not flattening out as sometimes happens when they're frightened, and I thought it asleep, or even sick.

Not one to hang around, I hurried the dogs along, back through the gate, then down the inside of the fence where I could see it again, wondering if I should duck back home for the camera. It was gone.

As much as I am anxious about snakes, and the dogs, I found myself uplifted and reassured by the experience. Away from the static (as K had noted when we were on Lord Howe Island) connections are there to be made, if only we were more open, something Robert Lawlor looks at in his beautiful book, Voices of the First Day. Time is not linear.

where the snake wasn't / was / wasn't

Hibbertia sp.

Bossiaea heterophyllia

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