Wednesday, May 14, 2008

serpiente update

The snake was identified by the local snakeman as a Northern Cat Eyed Snake. Harmless, unless you’re a frog or a little lizard. I let him go yesterday and was a little alarmed by the way he looked at me as he raced off. I let him go by the river hoping he would find supper here rather than heading for my pond. I wonder. He was toxic, but rear-fanged which means he dribbles poison as he chews – so fairly safe for dog or human. The snakeman has a great book on Costa Rican snakes, it’s amazing the number of varieties here and within each variety the subtle differences in colour and patterns.
He thanked me for not killing the snake as he left and I was hit immediately by a pang of guilt, I was going to kill it. But better I felt this pang than the greater one I would have felt if I had killed it and then identified it as harmless. I like frogs and lizards, a great deal actually and I thought about this snake eating them as they emerge from my pond. Then I remembered the beautiful Laughing Falcon I saw at the edge of the garden, their diet is mainly snakes. This food chain business is beautifully complicated and simple. And it is sentimental of me to worry about any tier of it. We exist beside nature but are woefully removed from her cycles. Coming back from town I cycled past a terribly skinny dog picking through garbage, her teats were big and hanging, she had pups somewhere. She was a street dog and I wondered if she and her litter would survive. I had nothing to give her, nor could I bring her home. It makes me realize again how comfortable we are in our ‘developed’ nations: death and decay, even age, are hidden from us. We are soft, sheltered, unaware. Here we have the trappings of the developed nation which lie like a veneer over the life below. But the veneer cracks and peels in the sun and humidity and life shows through. Perhaps that’s why so many people leave. I realize as I write this how ignorant I am. I talk about animals and yet in the world people are suffering the same fates, starving, at war, operating from no more than survival. It’s too big for me to comprehend.