December 22nd 2006
A tail from outside in
Lifestyle magazine editors extol the virtues of tropical architecture in which there is a "gentle transition between inside and out". Letting the breeze flow through and feeling more at one with nature are concepts I, too, happily embrace. But for some who reside beneath our roof that idyll can hide the truth that the inside-outside thing is also a two way street.
Our bathroom is just a shower with a wash basin and mirror - a tacked on afterthought to an otherwise delightful Queenslander cottage. Its least worst feature is probably the louvered window which is mostly open and, although of no appeal in itself, affords a pleasing view to our finest frangipani. But to three frogs and as many geckos the bathroom is a gastronomic paradise. Meals are flown in daily - fresh and often stunningly presented on gossamer wings - and, the servery around the night time light, has a range unsurpassed this side of Gustav Creek.
As a voluble masticator myself, I'm not one to deny anyone else the pleasures of the munch. The frenzied thwacking of geckos taking on an oversized fruit sucking moth in their upsidedownland cafeteria is as unremarkably homely as the clink of knife and fork through a infant potato. The less frequent sound of a frog, when, after half a week of motionless meditation, it finally notices the movement of something culinary, is louder. Following a crash, bash, slap or clomp we expect to find a bottle of something bathroomy lying in the washbasin or on the floor and, occupying its former locale, will be one of the three green grinners.
But earlier this week there was a crashing, bashing, slapping and clomping emanating from that place. It was noisier than the norm so I was drawn to investigate.
It was as I had expected. The gastronomic parameters had violently shifted and, as a member of the species which continue to enjoy the pointy peak of the food chain, it was a jolt for my sense of mortality to see the helplessly kicking hindquarters of a grinner protruding from the expanded jaws of a very large tree snake. The pitiful yaps of the little amphibian, still audible from its predator's throat, lasted many hours longer in my mind.
That night I dreamed of snakes - my hands full of them. They didn't bite me and felt cool and marvellous, as snakes really are, to touch. I wondered what that meant. Should I simply embrace the pleasures of nature or be thankful I wasn't a frog?
A bathroom scene: the tree snake departs after its meal
Story & photo: George Hirst
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