When I was 7, I went to High Park snake camp (the arts and crafts camp was full) in Toronto. We’d wander around the park, looking for garter snakes. We found one or two, picked them up, put them back down again, and kept walking, looking for more.

Snakes in Australia are not High Park Day Camp style. Watch where you walk and wear closed shoes (fun when it’s 30 degrees and your Adidas sneakers are stupidly falling apart- Adidas, never again). Red-bellied black snakes are venomous but are scared and will slither away. They also apparently eat baby brown snakes, which is good because Brown snakes are venomous and aggressive and fuel nightmares. Pythons are nice (I mean, that link goes to a petting zoo’s website).

The normal reaction when seeing a python on your veranda, according to my boss, is to scream and then realise it’s “just a python” and carry on with hanging the laundry or whatever. But I was warned that should I pick up a python, not to put it around my neck because it will strangle me. I’m keeping that in mind for all those times I’m tempted to pick up a python (I estimate you could fit about 120 garter snakes in a typical python, mass-wise).

In 6 weeks, I’ve only seen two red-bellied black snakes and two pythons. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have vivid snake-attack dreams a few times a week (in the latest edition, my apartment was overrun by snakes and none of my friends seemed to notice- frustrating. I ended up killing a pregnant one with an antique printers’ letter tray). Doesn’t mean I don’t jump a few times a day, thinking there’s a snake ready to bite.

Things that are not snakes
Wires and cables on the ground
Dried leaves
Creases at the bottom of swimming pools
Shadows cast by a branch
A branch
That other branch
A sound of rustling coming from a tree (usually a bird, not a snake)
Little mounds of sand
Discarded guitar strings
Facecloths that have fallen from the laundry line
Bicycle tire marks in the dirt road

Update: Since writing this post a day an a half ago, I have seen a red-bellied black snake slithering a little too close to the front door and, more alarmingly, I maybe or nearly or did step on one as I went into the laundry room. I screamed like a little girl and bolted. Laundry will have to wait. Maybe until Syndey in a month.