Turkeys, Dragons and Snakes

18 September 2009
Isn’t it funny how what you may first think to be a blessing can turn out to be a curse, and what you first think to be a curse may actually turn out to be a blessing? Best of all though is, as twins how we can turn something around and look at things a completely different way, turning fear into love.

We didn’t expect our first home together to be anything more than a stepping stone to getting us living together in the same city, in the same state, but we ended up renting the most lovely property alongside a large piece of nature, with a front veranda surrounded by large rock walls, a back decking in the tree tops, and still only about 2 kilometres from the city centre. It felt like we were living in a rainforest, yet only a 5 minute drive from the very centre of the city.

Before long, we noticed these strange large black birds with red heads and yellow necks, wondering around the adjacent land. After some searching online we identified them as Wild Turkeys native to the area and found in many suburbs. As the following weeks passed, we would sit on the balcony and watch as they mated. The male would chase a female, often up to the very tops of trees, before mating and then moving onto the next one. One day we awoke to find a large mound of leaves just the other side of our garden wire fence. Over the following weeks, we watched the male turkey scrape more and more leaves from all over, and build the mound higher and higher till it ended up about 10 foot long and 4 foot high. Intrigued we searched online again, and discovered over a 2-3 month period each of the females would come to the nest and lay their eggs in the very same nest and the eggs would eventually hatch about 50 days later. It said so many were laid because most would become the victims of natural predators, and thought no more of it. Daily We would sit as we ate breakfast on the side veranda, and watch as all this unfolded, thinking how lucky we were. Hmmm. But not for long…

Late in the southern winter, in August, the temperature soared one weekend. The hottest winter day ever was recorded. It was over 35C every day for about 4-5 days. Before long we noticed large lizards appearing. One particular type were quite large, light green, white and grey, aggressive looking and very very fast. There is a photo of one above. At first we would just hear something racing across the dried leaves and when we looked would just see a stationary lizard, wondering if we had imagined it? As we watched more we soon saw them, perfectly camouflaged, you would hear them first, racing across the dried leaves, then stopping, perfectly motionless, then racing again, then stopping. As we watched them more closely we saw they moved a huge distance in just a second or two. Certainly faster than we could ever run. It was terrifying. Some more online searching and we identified them as Eastern Dragon Lizards. Claire wasn’t happy. In fact over the next couple of days she decided she was terrified of them and wasn’t keen on going out to the washing line anymore, and decided she wanted to move altogether.

So we saw the turkeys as being a lovely blessing, and were terrified of the lizards, as if some sort of curse. Or so we thought…

The heat continued into the third or fourth day. On the Friday we were in the office, which had doors opening onto the reserve next door, when we heard butcher birds, one in particular, making an almighty amount of noise squawking madly just outside the open doors. We looked up and our friendly little Grey Butcher Bird was sitting on the fence right outside the doors and squawking loudest off all, looking up right at us before looking down and squawking even more (he's in a photo below). It went on and one, so eventually I thought I better have a look and walked over to see what was going on. I stood there in complete disbelief. There was a huge snake gliding down the garden path, about 2 feet from the door step. And I mean f*cking huge! It was a huge thick dark olive and black python. I called Claire. We just stood there going ‘oh f*ck’ in unison. A few week earlier we had discussed whether there might be any snakes around here in the summer, and thought being so close to the city centre, in an old established built up area, nah, there wouldn't be. We conservatively estimated it was at least 8 foot long. It slid over to the turkeys nest, stopped for a while, then back on along our fence, under our washing line, then off over the back and out of sight. We couldn’t believe it. We thought there might be the odd snake to watch out for during the summer, but we didn’t think we’d have 8ft pythons literally on our doorstep. I remember it overhung the fence posts, so I went out and measured them. They were 8ft apart, and this snake was much longer. We later spoke to the neighbours behind us and they said 'Oh yes, thats George. He's a good 10ft. He hibernates up here during the winter, and then comes out, hangs around a couple of weeks, and then goes down to the creek where all the food is for the summer. You might see one of his babies, they are about 6ft long, and there are about 6 of them'. And so it began…

The next evening we came home late in the evening to find a small thin brownish snake slithering along the rafters of the front veranda right outside the front door. The morning after that I checked around the veranda and discovered on the other side of the house another smaller 5-6ft long python half on the houses rafters, half on a tree. In the space of 5 days we saw 4 different snakes on, or right next to the house. The large rock wall we had to walk past to get to the front door turned into a gauntlet, as we had to walk past just a couple of feet away, we would hear all kinds of scurrying noises of creatures withdrawing into the cracks between the rocks, wondering what they were?

We were in shock. It felt like we were in for a summer of being surrounded by snakes, and fearful of just being able to get into and out of our home. We talked it all through. We spoke to 2 local snake catchers who assured us there were no venomous snakes in this area and any we would see couldn’t harm us. They didn’t seem to realize coming face to face with one wouldn’t exactly be good for the pulse rate! Of course, they loved them, and didn’t understand the fear aspect. Ahh…fear!! We talked more about this…

The lovely turkey nest we watched being built, was actually going to become the local restaurant for snakes and lizards. It started looking like a blessing but now looked more like a curse!

The Dragon Lizard Claire had been so afraid of only a week earlier no longer frightened her, as there was now a bigger fear to deal with. She would even shoo them off the path when they were in her way. Suddenly the terrifying fear of the lizard had disappeared, yet they hadn’t changed at all? Her fear had completely gone. Why? The lizard and it’s behaviour hadn’t changed at all? We realised all that had happened was a bigger fear had come along! It makes you realize, if say, aliens suddenly appeared and made themselves known to all the people of the planet, all the boundaries, all the fights, all the disagreements around the world would cease instantly, as a bigger fear would cause everyone of all races and cultures to no longer see each other as a threat, and bond together against a perceived bigger threat. Instead of focussing on the differences between us all, they would focus on the similarities.

So now there was a bigger threat (snakes). They couldn’t harm us and we couldn’t move as we had prepaid 6 months rent with all I had, so we would just have to learn to live with them for now. The bigger threat certainly helped bond us closer within our little family. We’d go to the washing line in 2’s, one on watch looking out for anything that might suddenly appear. Then we got to thinking about that as well… who is to say the bigger threat is a threat at all? Actually we are living in their territory, so really, we are the threat to them. Sometimes I would be up late at night, when all was quiet, and I would clearly hear something in the roof right above me slithering along. We started to take precautions, making sure we kept all the windows and doors closed at all times. We checked the veranda and decking each morning, just to be cautious. And we checked the paths before we went up or down them. We didn't want to blindly walk into something we would regret. We even started naming the snakes. We already had George, so the other python which was greyer with a yellow belly and we often saw hanging half on the veranda half on the trees outside of Ricks bedroom window, Liana named ‘Elle-belle’. One night I discovered our bedroom window had been left open for days, and quickly shut it. Later that evening we were in bed and I thought I could hear tapping at the window, which was unexpected considering it must have been 40ft off the ground. Eventually I got up and put the light on and opened the blinds to see this python hanging from above with its head looking straight in the window at me. I have some great videos of the snakes, one where a 6ft python stopped half way up a wall to take a leak, another where we got up in the morning to find a huge knot on a tree which on closer inspection was a big python all knotted up fast asleep.

Last week our electricity went off one evening. The house is on stilts and the fuse box is underneath. We have never really been under there as there is lots of boxes and old metal stuff (not ours) piled up and it is very dark even in the daytime, a perfect place for snakes to hangout. Now we had to. I went first torch in hand, Claire followed with another torch, and Liana was hanging over the balcony shining a torch down the side of the house. It was stormy and pitch black, as I started to push my way through the thick bushes. Some had 5ft long snake skins hanging from them, recently shed by snakes. This was just like one of those horror movies where there is a storm, then the power goes out, and they have to venture outside in the dark knowing there are snakes everywhere. Claire refused to go any further, but I had to go all the way to turn the power back on. A month earlier we would never have thought we could have something like this. But we did.

Remember those lizards we were so terrified of? We didnt even bother about them anymore. In fact, we grew to like them. It's amazing how easily one crisis can be so quickly forgotten when a bigger one appears. It’s all about fear and love. It’s about how fear can be turned into love if you just think of the bigger picture, or turn around how you perceive things, it is all in our minds and our choice as to how we decide to see things.

© Copyright 2009


Thu 02 Jun 2011
your thought on souls being able to enter animals is beautiful. I think this might for vegetation as well, as i have heard trees breathing before. ...Ryan S




capthca1 capthca2 capthca3 capthca4 capthca5 capthca6