I have some serious business to discuss this morning, but first I want to convey to you this light-hearted missive from reader John Burke of Queensland:
I have been reading your journals for some time and enjoy them. I spent 12 months in Lae in 1965 then 5 years in Mt. Hagen. My home is now in Burpengary, Queensland, Australia. Our local General Practitioner [doctor - ed.] asked me one day if I had any pictures of spiders in PNG. I saved copies of the ones you placed in your articles and gave them to him. Looking at the first Pic the Doctor reeled in horror. It turned out that the man had a Phobia and was trying to come to terms with it. All the photos of spiders I have given to him. It think it has helped him.
Sincerely, John Burke.
Thanks, John, for that sweet bit of country humour. My only question is, who is Gary and why is he burpin’? But, seriously folks, it is nice to see that my daily toils might ultimately serve some more noble purpose than providing yet another tactic to while away a few more minutes of a tedious day at the office.
Now, down to the business at hand.
The Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis) is one little sweetie of a snake. My old buddy at Nob Nob Mountain, Tag Tap, called me to tell me that he had a green snake for me. We’ve enjoyed many bush walks together and he shares my love for all of nature’s creatures. I asked him to send it down to Madang for me, since I’m tied up all week in our Annual General Meeting and could not get up there to take photos of it.
Here is the little beauty getting comfortable on my hand:Every experience that I have had with this species has been highly pleasant. If it has been in the shade, it will feel cool to the touch and will be very sluggish and placid. As it warms up in the sun it becomes a little more active and may attempt to escape. It soon gets comfortable with being handled. Its skin is very smooth and soft, feeling much like human skin.
Here is another shot of me holding the snake:It looks as if I’m strangling it, but my hold is very loose. The snake, however, will surprise you if it gets snugly wrapped around a finger or wrist. It can squeeze very hard. It got a single coil around one of my fingers and it constricted so tightly that my finger began to turn blue. I had to get someone to help me to gently unwrap it.
Here I am looking more ridiculous than usual:
But, this about the snake, not me. Here’s my old friend and co-worker Steve wearing a Green Tree Pyton and firmly grippnig the handle of a pint of Guinness:
I can’t wrap this up without showing you a close-up of the head of this beautiful creature:
I had considered taking this voracious rat eater home and letting it loose in my garden, where it’s services would be greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, given the (understandable) paranoia among nearly all Papua New Guineans concerning all snakes I was worried that it would not survive its first encounter with a human. That’s not even considering the reaction of our dog, Sheba. So, being mindful of the snake’s welfare, we packed it back up and sent it back up to Nob Nob with a request that Tag Tap release it again to it’s natural home.
I’ll wrap this up by announcing that my sweet Eunie, my wife and best friend for over 45 years, was yesterday elected Director of The Pioneer Bible Translators Association of Papua New Guinea, Incorporated. Her previous position was Director of Support Services, meaning that she was my boss. She’s now the Big Cheese, the Head Honcho, The Boss, the Capo di tutti capi.
My situation hasn’t changed.