Letters From The Earth.

No crawl lists, extradition treaties, and snakes without borders

Robert Cormack
The Haven
Published in
5 min readApr 3, 2024

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Courtesy of Pinterest

“Like Indiana Jones, I don’t like snakes — though that might lead some to ask why I’m in politics.” Theresa May

Spring has sprung in our part of the world, and while my wife takes pleasure in the crocuses and bluebells, she believes other earth dwellers, as she calls them, should return to their home of origin. In her surreal landscape of a mind, that means Africa.

Whether spider or snake, mole or weevil, she’s convinced they took a wrong turn somewhere. “They should be over there,” she says, pointing east — which could be Philadelphia.

Snakes, in particular, are on her “no crawl list” She saw a wreathing mass the other day coming out of a drainpipe. She ran around in circles, saying, “Why did we let them in?” Poor thing is convinced nobody’s doing enough at the border.

I explained that we let them in thousands of years ago — except in Ireland. She’s all for moving there right now. “How did they get rid of them?” she asked, packing all the wrong things for Ireland.

“St. Patrick, supposedly,” I said. “They tried to swarm him and he drove all legless creatures into the sea with his staff.”

They aren’t going to Africa, honey

Now she’s outside banging a broom (her idea of a staff) on the drainpipe. The garter snakes slither off in different directions, only to reappear later in a tangled joyous mass. It’s like watching Christmas in the reptilian world. Only no presents are involved.

This, of course, drives my wife to a new course of action. In a few weeks, our fields and orchards will be filled with migrant farm workers. My wife thinks these folks should take the snakes back with them.

“The farm workers aren’t going to Africa, honey,” I tell her.

“Can’t they make a stopover?”

It’s hard to know if she’s serious or not. One minute she’s banging on the drainpipe, the next, she’s going in circles. I tell her snakes are attracted to the warmth of the sun. Like Californians.

“Ew-w-w,” she says, confusing Californians with Hollywood actors.

I sit her down on the couch.

“Honey, snakes are good,” I say. “They eat mice and other rodents, keeping the population down. Get rid of snakes and we’ll be overrun — and not just by mice. Think rats, honey, big ones.”

Trump and the Venezuelans

Rats are right up there on her list of undesirables. If former president, Donald Trump, had mentioned rats and snakes in his border speeches, he’d be back in the White House now. Since he hasn’t, we have to assume he’s going after the Venezuelans.

My wife still thinks sending snakes back with migrant workers is a good idea, even if it is to Venezuela. As for the rats, there’s always rat poison. I tell her she’s better off with snakes. They won’t kill the neighbour’s chihuahua. She hates the neighbour’s chihuahua.

When a surreal mind turns into a disco ball

This morning, my wife is on Google. It turns out, Ireland never had snakes. St. Patrick made it up. It’s pretty bad when you can’t trust a saint. We have more pressing matters, though. Rats and mice, for instance. Google has two suggestions: Snakes and owls.

She types in: “Do owls eat snakes?” Turns out they do — even venomous ones. Then she types in “How do I attract owls?” The answer? “Place boxes in trees 10–12 feet from the ground around property’s perimeter.” She’s out there now, hammering cereal boxes to the trees.

I tell her I’m not sure owls are attracted to Shredded Wheat boxes.

“They’ll get wet and soggy,” I say.

“The owls?”

“The boxes.”

There are no owls

Even after replacing the Shredded Wheat boxes with wooden ones, the owls aren’t lining up. In fact, two of the boxes are now home to squirrels. Google calls them a “native species.”

Native or not, my wife’s outside, beating her broom against the boxes. The squirrels head for the treetops. They chatter, she chatters. It’s a hoot, even if there are no owls.

Back inside, she’s on Google again. “Do owls eat squirrels?” she types. A long list of squirrel-eating owls appears on the screen, including barn, tawny, long-eared, southern white and the Great Horned species.

Grabbing a brush and paint, she goes out to the boxes, giving each one a designation (e.g. Horned Owl, Barn Owl, etc.). The squirrels keep chattering. This is pure racism in their minds.

When racism turns to manifest destiny

The squirrels have taken over all the boxes now, ignoring designations, while the snakes have disappeared — most, anyway. We found one in the compost surrounded by tufts of fur. “It’s eaten a mouse,” I tell my wife. I hear a certain amount of gagging. Then she circles the gazebo. Owls would do something similar. That’s if we had any — which we don’t.

A chicken and egg situation

Back at her computer again, my wife’s asking Google what we should do to make our property owl-friendly. “Keep cats indoors,” she reads, “and don’t use rodent poison.”

I tell her we don’t have either.

“All I want is one stupid owl,” she says.

Google isn’t much help. Here’s one nugget: Psychics believe seeing an owl in your yard is an invitation to tap into your inner knowledge. That’s if there’s an owl to be seen. Otherwise, you’re pretty much on your own. It’s kind of a chicken and egg situation.

A little behind the ears

I can’t imagine my wife’s life without Google. She’d probably be sitting cross-legged in the Himalayas about now. She’s still without “the answer,” meaning we haven’t made a dent in the “undesirable” population. She’s even tried rubbing owl’s musk around the compost and drainpipe. She bought the stuff online. It’s actually a musk perfume made by Crazy Owl. I don’t know if it’s real owl musk or not. I guess we could dab some behind our ears and head for the zoo. See if any owls make lovesick noises.

Worth a try, I guess. I’ve never seen a lovesick owl. Neither has my wife.

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Robert Cormack
The Haven

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.