The smell hits your nose first. A deep pungent stench, that despite your brain telling you not to, your body involuntarily breathes in. A little deeper this time, and yet still just as repulsive as the first time. "God it stinks", she mutters. Something must have died back here, down by the back fence.
She holds her t-shirt to her nose and works her way back along the faint path. No one has walked down this far for a while now, or if they have, they've left no trace.
Carefully weaving back, she's conscious of where her feet step. This kind of long dried grass called for boots, not the click-clack of thongs.
Plonking herself back on the verandah steps, one hand cradles a reusable coffee cup, the other hand touches the concrete below her chipped nail polished toes.
The concrete is cool now, but it won't be long before the orange sun sneaks over the back fence. Rising, turning the yard into a baked weed jungle once more. Just like yesterday and all the days before.
She couldn't remember the last time it rained and yet somehow the weeds were still there. Less enthusiastically without the water, but there all the same. Slowly creeping over the garden that had once been Gran's pride and joy.
Over the summer beds that this time of year should've held tomato tendrils climbing skyward, bushy bunches of basil and whispering ears of corn.
Not now. Not since it had stopped raining.
Flicking grass seed from between her bare toes, she looks out over the yard. Wouldn't be the first time there'd been a snake in the yard.
Must have been three summers ago now, while they'd all been eating lunch on the back deck, a red belly decided to pay them a visit.
Halfway through stirring the coleslaw and out the corner of an eye, she sees a glint of red crossing the back lawn.
The kids had been playing under the hose and the poor bugger must been thirsty, coming after the water. Dimity shrieked and ran inside.
The kids jumped onto their chairs, Gran muttered something that sounded particularly un Gran like as she went to get her boots on.
In the meantime, Maggs had wordlessly picked up a spade that had been leaning against the side of the house and launched herself at it in a few ninja moves.
She said later she barely remembers doing it. She was just thinking about the kids, and that the snake shouldn't have been there.
Not then. Not while we were all there having lunch.
Gran served the pavlova just after. The smalls watched on, fascinated, as the now divided body continued to twitch.
Dimity took her dessert inside, turning up the music so she couldn't hear the kids yelling excitedly as the poor snake's body gave a last hurrah. Her sister had never been great around reptiles.
It seemed a long time since they'd all got together like that, sprawling out on the back deck, watching the local magpies and having a laugh.
It was easier back then though. Before things got so complicated.
Back when people had gardens and summer afternoons meant kids playing under the sprinkler. Before the endless fire seasons, before the air started to regularly choke them, before the birds stopped singing.
Gathering together for a barbecue on Gran's back deck had been their go to spot for so long.
She missed it.
She missed all of it.
Gran did too. But today was moving day and as Gran said, this was just another branch of the apple tree. While the back garden had been getting drier and harder to grow things, Gran had channelled her energy into the surrounding community.
"If I can't work outside in my garden, there's no point in me being here," she said one day.
She'd put the house on the market the next month, and started spending more time at the community garden where they had a large hothouse with a dedicated air purifier.
She'd always been pragmatic, and while she couldn't do anything about the climate crisis, she could continue working with the community. If that meant moving to a smaller place closer to town, then that's what she'd do.
There was no need for last goodbyes; they'd all done their final farewells to this place last week.
Dimity and the kids had come over. Maggs had opened a beautiful bottle of some local wine she must have had stashed for ages, and they'd spent the evening telling stories.
'The Summer of Snake', always left the kids shrieking excitedly, each retelling gaining another animated layer to it.
There'd been four more snake sightings that summer. Hungry and thirsty just like the rest of the wild life around them. Until just like the birds, they stopped coming.
With the kids glued to a movie on Netflix, the adults had slipped outside into the dusk- each one with something to leave in the backyard. Looking back on the scene this morning, it seemed fitting.
Gran had said she'd have no need for the mower any longer at the new place.
"If the new people here want to mow the weeds right down, well then they are welcome to the machine', she'd said. S
he'd long since refused, as she knew once they were gone, even the weeds wouldn't have the energy to grow back. Not without water.
Finishing the last of her coffee, she paused a minute longer. Maggs and Gran were already at the new place, unpacking what they'd been able to load into the back of the Honda Jazz.
She stretched and took one final look around. She'd have to go inside where she could hear Dimity pull up.
She'd said she'd be here at 7am and doubted whether she'd come round the back.
Especially with that god awful dead smell, down by the back fence.