It's different here in Malawi. Instead of oak and maple trees, we have jacaranda and acacia. Instead of robins and bluejays we have mouse birds and kingfishers. Monkeys, not squirrels, steal the corn from our garden and if there is a snake in the garden, chances are it's not harmless.
Factoid: 90% of the snakes found in Africa are poisonous.
We have seen snakes on the road and snakes on the path. Friends have reported snakes dropping from trees in their yard and even a snake dropping from a ceiling rafter into the bedroom. But we never, ever spotted one of these venomous vermin in OUR yard.....
until last night.
True, we had a small snake in the house at Christmas time, and another on the porch last week. Paul removed their heads with a big kitchen knife just to be safe. But they were not poisonous.
Last night was different.
About 8 pm we were sitting in the living room when the guard rapped on the gate with his keys. This usually means he wants tea leaves, or T.P., or some other something of little consequence. I sighed. “What now?” But when Paul went to the door he immediately called to me. “You gotta see this!”
There, dangling from the end of a long branch held by our guard, was a 2 foot long, deadly snake. The guard had killed it with a brick as it was making it's way down the driveway. OUR driveway. Towards OUR house. Just seeing the limp corpse gave me the heebee geebees!
Rainy season saturates the earth so snakes can't go into their holes like they usually do. The result is they are more apt to be out and about, especially at night. They hide in grass and bushes, hang from trees and generally terrorize the psyche of the children of Eve. I try not to think about it.
This morning, when our gardener talked to the night guards, he got thoroughly spooked and nearly turned white. As we left for work he was energetically cutting all the bushes and trimming all the trees near the snake's site of death. The last time he got this energetic was when the guards next door killed three snakes (count 'em—3 big ones) in one night.
At our home here in Malawi we go to great lengths to keep out intruders. There are bars on all the windows and doors. Our yard is completely fenced-in with a locked gate. An Emergency Response Service is prepared to send a crack team of professionals within 15 minutes of being summoned. And we have 2 guards on duty every night.
But none of these precautions are guaranteed to stop a snake in the grass.
God bless our guards.
And our gardener. We will return to our freshly trimmed yard and hope we don't have a repeat of last night's near security breach.