The talk about snakes reminds me of my visit to Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden in Cape Town, back in 2008. As I was talking to Ernst Van Jaarsveld in his office, his phone rang. (He's the curator of their marvelous conservatory, fantastic botanist and plant explorer, etc, etc.) He chatted with the caller briefly, hung up the phone, and said to me "Hurry, the game is afoot!" or some Sherlockian words to that effect. We ran out to his car (actually his daughter's, which turned out to have no brakes or transmission), and we zoomed/rattled up the hill towards the herbarium. On the way, he described how one of the gardeners had found a snake, and since he was the resident snake catcher of Kirstenbosch, he got the call. Before we got into the car, he grabbed a little wooden box with a hole in the side--a tortoise box that would have to make do for the snake. As an aside, he said it was probably a cape cobra, the most poisonous snake in South Africa, right up there with the black mamba. We screeched/slid to a halt alongside a fellow who was waving his garden hoe, jumped out, and found that it was indeed a cape cobra, a bit over two meters long. After a bit of finagling, Ernst was finally able to get it into the tortoise box by dangling it from the hoe and letting it crawl in. Unfortunately, he had forgotten the cover for the box and the hole was wide open, with the cobra peering out. He scrabbled around in the back of the car, until he found an old newspaper--a perfect cover for the box! He then handed the snake in the box and the newspaper to me, and said "Here, hold this while we drive a bit and find a place to release the cobra. DO NOT let go of the newspaper!" So there we went, bouncing up Table Mountain, with me holding the cobra in my lap, protected by a few pages of last week's Cape Times newspaper. We found a good place to stop, got out, and put the box by the side of the track. The cobra wasn't about to come out, so we left it there to exit in a leisurely manner. On the way back to the conservatory, Ernst told me about another call he had received from a resident nearby to Kirstenbosch. Apparently a snake had gotten into this homeowner's bird cage, and had eaten all of the birds. Unfortunately, the snake was now too fat to fit through the bars of cage, was stuck there, and had to be 'rescued'... Ernst did give me some Whiteheadia seeds before I left, so this story really is bulb related. Aren't snakes a lot more exciting than zephyranthes, all things considered? --Roy NW of Boston, first hard freeze last night, with the snakes starting their long winter's nap.