The perils of south Florida are being neatly dispatched. First, there was the life threatening weather that never materialized and second, Mr. Snake vanished. I noticed he had not appeared in quite some time, and in the loosest sense I missed him, worried what had become of him.
All summer long, everywhere I looked, my eye was tricked by shade, by a section of garden hose, by a benign frond, and I jumped in place and visualized the quick moving beast looping up my bare legs, puncturing my jugular with a well placed fang. I could feel him on me in every swish of innocent leaves. I was hyper aware of his not coming around because for a time I was waiting for him, like an assassin, ready to implement whatever permanent damage I could muster.
I had petitioned everyone I know for ways to handle this intruder. Smack it with a shovel, make friends with it, feed it, ignore it, give it a name, were just some of the extraordinarily lame suggestions flung my way. One friend counseled, “Don’t be such a weenie! It’s a rat snake, they eat rats. Just don’t step on it.” Reluctantly, and fully creeped out, I cleared the heaps of fallen leaves and the mounds of squishy balls that continually thunder down from a sweet almond tree. The best suggestion came from my mother, HRH Princess Elizabeth Karageorgevic, who spent a good portion of her childhood in Kenya. “Easy! Get a mongoose,” she advised. “I had a pet mongoose when I was a child, and they love to eat snakes.”
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