I’m sure none of my (few, remaining) esteemed readers will be particularly surprised that it is so long since I last wrote. In fact, it’s been uncommonly fast when compared to my last couple of efforts. While I’d like to say that the delay is because I have been super busy and having a fantastic time, the reality is that life has been plodding along pretty slowly for the most part.
Still, it’s been an eventful few months in its way. Getting used to our new house has been both wonderful and… not so wonderful. Take our first night in the place, for example.
We were fortunate, given that most of our belongings were on the other side of the country, that the house was sold to us furnished. While there was a fair bit that was destined for the rubbish dump, it did at least mean we had a bed in which to sleep. Therefore, two days after settlement, there we were on our big adventure, moving into a beautiful new home.
A new house always feels strange at first and this one was so different to any in which I’ve previously lived, that it was very strange indeed. It looked strange, especially with the unfamiliar furniture. It sounded strange and even smelled strange. (Substitute “musty” for “strange” and you’ll begin to get an idea.) One thing for sure, though — we were very happy to be there, in our OWN HOME.
At some point, around about the time we were thinking of retiring to our strange, new, second-hand bed, I turned on the light at the top of the stairs. (Another strange thing about a new house was learning the locations of the light switches and, furthermore, remembering them for future use.) I was about to head down to the kitchen when something, yes, strange, glimpsed from the corner of my eye caused me to stop and look twice.
“Darling,” I called, casually. “We have a snake.”
Dohn emerged from the bedroom, resplendent in his shining knight’s armour (ok, so, not really) and together we surveyed the strange, thin, curvy, writhing black creature on the floorboards near the (unhinged) doors to the boiler room.
The snake surveyed us back, flicked his strangely snake-like forked tongue at us a few times, decided he didn’t want to be friends, and retreated into the boiler room through a gap in the doors. Fascinated, we watched him disappear from sight, smoothly and silently.
Dohn peered through the glass in the doors but by the time I was game enough to peek too, there was no sign of him. There were, however, a great many shed snake skins left behind at which we could marvel to our heart’s content.
In due course (which wasn’t very long really as there was very little choice) I made an executive decision. I decreed that, for tonight at least, we would peacefully coexist with our house guest. He didn’t seem to want to be around us any more than we wanted to be around him, and if he kept out of our way then all would surely be good.
The following morning, Dohn opened his emails and found a friendly missive from the previous owners of the house. It was full of the most helpful advice. One of the pearls of wisdom on offer involved the torches they had kindly left for us on the bedside tables. “Do not,” they advised, “open those double doors off the upstairs passageway. An Eastern Small-Eyed Snake dwells within. We used the torches beside the bed if we needed to go to the bathroom in the night.”
Thanks for letting us know before we bought the house! But I’m afraid the reason for the bedside torches had already become painfully obvious.
(There have, as you can imagine, been other occasions but you will be pleased to know that on at least one we were able to courteously escort our undesirable guest through the front door. “I’m sorry, but you’ve outstayed your welcome,” Dohn firmly but respectfully explained. We then barricaded the door with all the downstairs furniture. But that’s another story.)
And so we settled into our strange, new, shared accommodation.
Don’t go outside when it’s wet (which is all the time)
Snakes are by no means the only creatures to cause concern in the rainforest. I had my first encounter with a leech on the day we took possession of the house. We’d met with the previous owners for a kind of handover, and they showed us where our weir (which is our water supply) was located, near the top of our 1km long driveway. We talked for about fifteen minutes there in the rainforest before they headed off on the long, long road trip to their home in Victoria. Dohn and I headed into Millaa Millaa to see our real estate agent, Pat, and pick up the full set of house keys. (Yay!)
I was chatting away with Dohn and Pat when I became aware of a sensation of wetness on my right calf. I looked down to discover that the inside of my trouser leg had soaked through with blood. To say I was alarmed would be a considerable understatement. Trying to disguise my urgency (after all, I was clearly haemorrhaging or miscarrying or something equally traumatic and life-threatening), I asked Pat if I could avail myself of the Ladies room. Closer inspection revealed a small round sore on the inside of my knee, and a lot of blood. Which kept flowing. And flowing. Knowing that leeches, when they bite, release an anticoagulant in their saliva, it was now that I started to think “Aha! Leech…”
I’m unsure exactly how successful I was in my attempt to avoid drawing attention to what would have looked, to the casual observer, as if my heavily pregnant waters had broken in a vicious and bloody gush. (Of course, I am not pregnant, and it was hardly gushing — but never let the truth get in the way of a good story.) My trousers were undeniably stained with the fresh blood running down the inside of my leg.
Back in the car, I informed Dohn of my findings and when we got out again at the Post Office just around the corner, I duly tipped the fat, bloody little slug I found on the floor mat onto the hot concrete. Call it cruelty to one of God’s living creatures if you will. I harboured a secret desire for it to die, die, DIE! When we emerged from the Post Office a few minutes later, however, it was nowhere to be seen so it may actually have lived to tell the tale. There are, after all, two sides to every story.
We continued on our way and an hour or so after that, I stopped bleeding.
Later, after I had recounted an abridged version of this story to Chris, a visiting geologist at the mine, he merely remarked, “And it’s not even the Wet, yet.”
If you want to get really freaked out, do a Google Images search on leeches. Otherwise, just take my word for it that they are some of the least fun things about living in this part of the world — nevertheless they are not so much of an inconvenience as to stop it from being very, very worth it.
Speaking of which, I suppose this is a good opportunity to mention all the wondrous things we see every day, along the driveway and from the balcony. Along with the natural beauty there is amazing wildlife — cassowaries, birds, frogs, tree kangaroos, pademelons, bandicoots, quolls. As I type, a pademelon (the rainforest’s only wallaby) stares up at me from below the balcony. It’s a true wonderland, and the sights and sounds are nothing short of magical.
What? You don’t believe me? Why on earth not? ;-)