Yesterday when I got out of bed, I heard a plop and the scuttle of eight feet. In Australia, this would be normal but I have to say I was surprised to find I had been sharing my bed with a spider of reasonable diameter. I have never seen one as big as it in Italy before and can't help wondering if it hitched a ride in my backpack from the Aeolian islands from which I have just returned. (Stay tuned for some adjective-laden posts about that amazing journey.) Anyway we parted company and I went about my dzay.
My next animal encounter was sadly of the deceased variety. A young, red squirrel dead on the road. He didn't have any noticeable injuries except one of his eyes had popped out but I presume he had been hit by a car. I couldn't leave him on the road to be smashed into the bitumen so I dug a grave by the road with a view of the trees. I sat with him for a while first and gave him lots of hugs. His body was still warm so it must have only happened recently. If only I had come earlier. I also played him some James Blunt because if anyone is going to make an animal suddenly wake up and run, it is probably him. I say that with love, of course. I am JB's one fan.
Finally, in the afternoon I noticed Pirate was being quiet. Tooooooo quiet. So I went outside to look for her and found her staring at the back of lizard which was sticking out of a brick hole, its legs spinning like demented windmills. "Oh, Pirate," I said. "Let the lizard be." Anyway, I then looked more closely at the lizard and noticed that its head seemed to be twisted around, and its large black eye was staring at me. I thought it looked odd and it took me a minute to realise that it was actually a snake slowly devouring the lizard headfirst. Well, I know the snake was probably hungry but I couldn't just crouch there and watch this slow, tortuous death so I pulled the lizard out of the snake's mouth. The lizard promptly shed its tails as a thank you gift for me and scampered behind the brick. 'O, lizard,' I said. 'That's very silly. The snake is behind there, too.' So I moved the brick so the lizard ran away properly and then I saw the snake. It was quite young I think, very long with green and greyish scales. I am fairly confident it wasn't a viper but I still didn't like it having lunch right by my door so I gently invited it with a broom to head for the hills. To be honest, I don't think it went very far and is probably planning to empty my fridge and leave a note saying - See, how do you like having your lunch taken away!
Never a dull moment in this Tuscan valley, I can tell you.