August 3: the idea of a snake

In the summer, insects take back control. It starts simply. There are too many flies buzzing around you, parking themselves on your forkfull of al-fresco chicken, kamikazee smashing into window panes, evading your swats (hard to outwit a fly). Underfoot more species present themselves, fatter, longer, highly tinted. You realize that it is they who have dominion over the earth, not us. Their reign goes on quietly through winter, but in summer it is incontrovertible. Then mosquitoes arrive. What had been a pleasant stay on the Mediterranean transmutes over the week into an attempt to limit bite damage. In the end you just want to go home to the darker north. There is also the idea of a snake. The snake is mostly an idea, but you know they are there. Lizards I can deal with. They are sudden zig-zags on the wall with very human shifts of their stance and centre of gravity, as if they were wearing boots and constantly needed to get onto the right axis. But the snake is alien. There is nothing human about a snake. There would be no compromise with a snake. A snake was seen as we hiked up a steep slope away from a river pool in the Cevennes. Not by me. But it was seen. I am glad I didn’t see it and only heard about it. If I had seen it it would have infiltrated into my dreams. I’m less squeamish about spiders though I don’t see myself picking them up. Whereas I am very happy picking up a daddy-long-legs to carry it over to the front doot and help it out into the fresh air. i actually enjoy the expulsion of a daddy-long-legs. It’s one small zone where my manhood can flourish. The other is opening jars. For the rest, forget it.

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