Across Continents

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Slippery encounter

She leapt back suddenly. Knocking the small table. My coffee sloshing across it. "Snake" she exclaimed. By now out of my seat, I peered over. A few feet long. Slithering swiftly and silently across the warm stone flags. Its head raised noticeably off the ground. Threatening. As if to strike. Instead disappearing under a nearby water trough. Gone as quickly as it had arrived. A few seconds.

Commotion over. Explained that, roadkill excepted, this was the first snake I’d seen in Australia. Despite all my camping. Did she know what sort it was, I enquired? Wasn’t sure. But thought its aggressive posture meant is was probably venomous. The search for autumn sun and a winter habitat drawing it out.

I’d been surprised at the swiftness of the encounter. The potential for being caught unawares. Taking some comfort in the knowledge that I’d good idea what to do if bitten. Compression bandage. Never wash the wound. Residue helping identify which anti-venom to administer. And don’t be shy. Call for help. Textbooks say stay calm. Not sure if I’d ever manage that. Rather, don’t panic. For most bites are usually dry. A warning. No venom. Just septicemia to contend with.

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