In 1959 my military father was posted to Bangkok, Thailand bringing along his wife and seven curious children. We were soon housed in a large, walled compound that was meant to keep the burglars out and more than likely my four brothers in. Not to worry, as there was much to explore within the half-acre space made up of yard, walls, fence and roofs to climb and leap from. A veranda wrapped around one side to the back of the house where a rectangular pond of water separated the viewer from a tall stand of pine trees and beyond that the wet lands of rural Bangkok.
With the Monsoon rains came the deadly Bandit Krait snakes weaving through the flooded yard as if they had waited all year for this opportunity. Not content to watch from the window, my brother Mick would instigate a challenge to tight walk the fence crisscrossing the yard and hope that none of us fell to the snakes below. One morning, as we left for school, a cobra lay in the driveway, its mouth stuffed with a big, fat toad. The back of the cobra’s head held the design of an eye as if watching us standing five steps above on the porch. The cobra was between the car, and us so my mother let us observe this rather intense biology experience before the gardener carried the distracted cobra away to be killed.