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Monday, September 04, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

G'day, Steve.

It was ungodly early when I saw the news yesterday morning that Steve Irwin, a.k.a. the Crocodile Hunter, had been killed while snorkelling off the coast of Australia.

My first thought was, how very sad for his wife and children. My second thought was, my seven year-old son will be heartbroken. My third thought was, I will never, ever go swimming in the waters of northwestern Australia. If the Bill Bryson book I am reading, In a Sunburned Country, weren't enough to warn me off already, now I am a true believer.

A pot of coffee later, I thought of my friend Georgia and rang her up.

"Well, I just felt I had to reach out to an Australian," I said when she picked up. "And you're it, mate."

"You're the fifth person to call me this morning," she said, sounding baffled and amused. I assume she is still in the denial stage of grieving (her next door neighbor, however, is apparently quite distraught).

Come right down to it, Jeff Corwin is much more my cup of tea when it comes to guys with camera crews running around in the bush molesting wildlife. Although the genre as a whole has come a long way since my childhood, when all we had was the sadistic Marlon Perkins sending poor Jim into the lion's den week after week on Wild Kingdom. Nonetheless, I admired Irwin's effort to make us see beauty and purpose in creatures we have been taught to revile, principally crocodilians and snakes.

My sympathies have long tended to lean with the snakes. Maybe it's because we don't have any reptiles in Newfoundland on which to project primal fear, or maybe it's because deep down I've always known, had it been me in the garden of Eden, I would also have gone for the fruit (see "Sublime", below). I think they are beautiful, and I love it when one crosses my path (as long as I see them first). We have had several good-size king snakes around the yard, and last weekend there was a lovely brown water snake that would greet me at the water's edge when I'd go down to the lake at the conference center.

My husband, like most southern men, is of the "Whack first, ask questions later" school of zoology. The post-mortem report is invariably, "copperhead." The slender brown grass snakes that turn up in the garden from time to time, no more than a handspan long, are always "baby copperheads" which are supposedly "even more poisonous." This elicits much eye-rolling from me, and disavowals of assistance from him come the day I am finally bitten and lie twitching in the driveway. When I told him that the Crocodile Hunter had been killed, I thought I detected just a glint of biblical vindication in his expression (although, bizarrely, it turned out to be a stingray that dispatched him--the terrestial parallell would be a bull rider being gored by a goat).

My sons took the news in stride, as it turned out. Our resident mystic, my middle son, said after a moment's pause, "Now he's awake."

When it comes to knowledge of life, good and evil, my money's on the wisdom of snakes and babes, hands down, every time.

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Blogger skyangel said...

Yeah, Steve Irwin was a one-of-a-kind bloke, wasn't he? At least he died doing what he loved.

You know, my hubby is of the Southern variety too, the "whack first, ask questions later" type. His major thing right now is ants, though he's not crazy about snakes too.

Is that a pic of croc shoes? :)


11:21 AM  
Blogger K. said...

Yes it is...check out Jon Armstrong's blog, Blurbomat for his running defense of clogs.

The ants around here have taken over in recent years. I used to be very Zen about the occasional one, but they have overstepped their bounds.

thanks for stopping by!


7:13 AM  

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