We’ve been away from home for six weeks and have returned to autumn’s first showing and a slight chill to the air. The yard is full of detritus – leaves and piles of frangipani and baleria flowers are caught in the corners. First chore is to check on the state of the garden and the herb pots….. and there we find telltale signs of a visitor with a voracious appetite for parsley! Ah, the mice are back and parsley is eaten down to soil level. With a slew of predators – snakes, genets, crows, and rooikat, they had become scarce in the vicinity and we hadn’t seem them in months. The last encounter in our backyard a few years ago, was on a sunny day, when we were quietly enjoying lunch. A rustling and a panicked scurrying was heard among the herb pots and out popped a small furry mouse with a sinuous snake in close pursuit. My reaction was to fling a napkin to divert the snake and the mouse managed to escape, while the reptile slithered away into the undergrowth. (Why defend the prey and not the predator?) It was a medium sized Cape cobra but they are known for being shy and usually keep clear of human activity. It was a good reminder to get out the boots and gloves to wear while gardening. We haven’t encountered many snakes, the most elegant was a Western sand snake with a cream coloured belly and dark lateral pin-stripes. Occasionally we’ve been fortunate to see the odd mole snake, another of the reclusive residents. Since returning, we keenly anticipate sighting our wild neighbours again. Today we spotted a lone baboon, one of the elderly females coming from the house two away from ours. It’s not a good sign as the troop is no longer a cohesive unit since the alpha male was euthenased last year and the troop members are fissioning into groups to raid independently.