By Pat McKrill
Way back in history, a lad growing up in the beautiful country just north of the Limpopo, used to go for walks with his father in the (then) unspoilt African bush.
The walks were mutually rewarding. The father was collecting wild mushrooms for dinner, while teaching his son about the bush. As they came across new creatures, plants, sounds and smells, these were explored and explained, teaching the youngster a great deal of respect for, but not fear of, the unknown.
Fast forward to December 31, 1999, on a beautiful starlit night at a bush camp in Zululand. The same lad, a tad older now, was sitting by the fireside while what seemed like the whole world was stressing over what was about to happen when, as they’d been told, computers and everything linked to them would come crashing down as the clock struck midnight. Remember that?
Just before the much-awaited moment, a lovely young woman came hurtling out of the thatched communal shower units off to one side, buck naked and screaming her lungs out.
Snaaaake!!!!! she yelled, arms and everything else flailing about wildly as she ran. The lad – it was me – bravely leapt up and bolted for the shower units (not Godiva) to see what had caused the consternation. It was a beautiful marbled tree snake, doing its evening rounds, looking for geckoes among the rafters, certainly not about to attack the person in the shower.
By the same token, nor is the bush snake that lives in your driveway gatepost waiting to ambush you. Same for the night adder that resides in block 23 in the Loffelstein wall and comes out twice a month to help keep the guttural toad numbers down. What about the mamba or tiger snake that keeps the sparrows honest in the roof of your north coast holiday cottage? They’re also there for a reason and it’s certainly not to attack or kill you.
We’re heading into winter now , as you know, we should factor in the possibility of more snake activity soon, as they all strive to get in a decent meal or two before the seasonal slowdown and, for some species, adding to those numbers will be visiting males, responding to the predictable pheromonal come-on from lovelorn local sirens. You might not see all this happening, but it will be, I promise.
The difference between their natural shutdown and our man-planned one, will be that, give or take a week, they’ll know when theirs is going to end!
There are lessons here that we need to take seriously. Increasingly, us humans have begun to live our lives fuelled more on hearsay than reality, believing but not questioning. We fear what we can’t understand.
In nature, they’ve had to be fully aware of what’s going on around them and deal with it as it gets delivered. No certainties, they live life in the moment, for the now. And maybe, so should we.