Updated: Jul 24
In my grandmother’s house there was a tall Grandfather clock,
It was a marvellous, impressive wooden tower with a glass door,
Long chains weighted down by large metal weights were visible,
The mechanism clearly ticked as each second passed.
The house was spacious with high ceilings and a wide passageway,
A telephone exchange board was in the passage off the kitchen,
Red and black cords hung down under the numbered plug holes,
Each connecting a pathway to the homes in the community.
The big house stood proudly surrounded by paddocks of white stones and stubble,
Built using limestone and sandy mortar with wide verandas,
The farmhouse was separated from farm sheds by a fence,
Beyond the implement sheds the dusty gravel road.
I recall as a lad of 7, sixty years ago, staying with a cousin on holiday,
The stove in the kitchen burnt mallee stumps stored under a bench,
A door opened to the outside veranda and held the fire fuel,
It was summertime, a very hot day, that Grandma screamed!
The fire had burnt down, and wood was needed to continue cooking,
Grandma went to the wood box to get a stump for the stove,
A brown snake shot out the door and into the linoleum tiled kitchen,
The terrible fright produced her screaming reaction!
She sprang onto a wooden table chair and shouted to us,
“Go into the bedroom and shut the door and don’t come out!
Stay there until I tell you – there is a snake in the kitchen,”
We did as she said, shut the door and stood on the big double bed.
We heard some shouting and banging noises,
Later Grandma told us she had reached out to the broom,
She banged it on the floor and the cupboards making a lot of noise,
The snake, in alarm, returned to the wood box and freedom outside.
We were petrified as time stood still,
Waiting, we froze and listened to the turmoil,
Grandma suddenly came and opened the door,
Relieved but shaken she said, “The snake has gone!”
Grandpa came home for lunch and Grandma told him what happened,
He opened the veranda door to the wood box and pulled it out,
The space was empty so then he searched the veranda and the garden,
He said, “The snake has gone to hide in the paddock”.
We sat down around the wooden table to have lunch,
Grandpa turned on the big black wireless on then mantle,
The ABC jingle announced the reading of the midday news,
We then listened to Blue Hills and peace returned to the farm.
Neil P. Schiller