dawn : A thick visible shushy mist carrying multitudinous drops of water creeps thru the forest and garden. by the time I light Stanley it has gone and a shy morning emerges. The sun lifts thru the trees pushing hard onto the east verandah. Ravens wing in and call stridently urgently demanding my attention.
They have something to say and I have to listen.
The lewins honeyeater moves into its shriek alarm signal the one that signifies threat danger predator. The diamond python could be nearby. I go looking at the corner of the house in the lemon verbena, the bottlebrush, the wisteria arbour where the lewins has built its hanging basket nest. It is so very delicate and yet sturdy made of spiders web shredded Stringybark, bits of white paper, hair and filled with the softest looking nesting material in which two eggs lay. They are about the size of the top of my thumb white with a few speckles. Is this their second nesting or still the first or has she given up… abandoned the project?
I am watching to see if she is sitting but although she sets off the alarm I do not see her go near the nest. Earlier in summer the diamond python hung out a lot on this corner and the lewins became a nervous wreck shrieking and squawking all the time. nothing I can do I tell them. at 3 metres long the python will move where it will. Just not into the roof anymore, it hunted and probed, tried again and again to get in thru its old doorway but along with the rat proofing means no entry for pythons.
Sorry but you didn’t eat enough rats. In fact they were roof buddies sharing premises and the rats did not take a break from making out and producing for a second.
it has a patch of gingery fur ringing its grey upright ears. the back is grey with a bit of white underlay and the tail as easily as long as the body is a solid dark grey. there are little white patches on the elbow and the front of the body is the same gingery russet tones of autumn.
it has been very busy this morning ever since I got up. hovering around the edge of the tank focused on eating. I cleaned out the compost bucket there yesterday and it has probably picked up a few scraps. it nibbled its way to the back door and up to the kitchen window stopping to glance at me as I clunk a dish into the sink. it is quite young very small but old enough not to have mum or dad hanging around. On slender perfectly suited for bounding legs it gracefully hops into the herb garden. I don’t mind waking up to these swampy wallabies around the house. their gentle grace and innocence and the fact that they are at home indigenous to this place.
last week it was cows, big hulking grey brown black and white all tail flicking and giant patties of smelly plop everywhere. on a certain breeze it stinks inside the house. we chased them this way and that debating did they belong to Christa or Norris? just bloody cows to us , piss off we yell go home . they are offensive rude loud and destructive. they hammered the asparagus and dahlias leaving them stripped bare, they break branches off trees and mow down shrubs. it is true the lawns are clipped short and there is no need for a mow.
Christa drove over one day and called them come on maggie come on annie barry belle come on… gathering up her children from around the house because they refused to budge even with Kingston John flapping and windmilling his arms shouting buddy cows get away.
on another day the two neighbouring herds met up in our bush and we managed to sic them thru to Christas. that set the cat among the pigeons. a lot of phone calls ensued .
buddy cow poo everywhere says Kingston.
Norris replied to Johns phone call with a we need a new fence. forgive me my derision lord but I need a new fence like a shot of heroin in the arm.
once it was easy for me to despise my neighbours especially of the monoculture cow variety . these days in the middle of blowing off steam I remember I breathe I hug silence and it washes away.
his second reply to John was to come out the next morning and drive around shooting for hours while John tried to keep his head down and fix the breaches in the fence. not one star picket not one bit of wire not one post not one anything has Norris contributed in 20 years. yes it is an old fence and the original red gum posts have rotted off in the ground. we have brought most of them back to our yard, replacing them over time with new posts and steelies adding sticks and rejigging barb wire plugging the gaps as needed.
one night a herd camped right outside our bedroom and we were woken repeatedly to listen to the entire process of their digestion.some orchestral music that.
neighbour issues belong to the era of my childhood so obviously I have a preset pattern waiting to cut sick. forget it, I have moved on and will not waste my energy going there. Mum was a beauty at it. She used to have window banging contests with Mrs Macaninny next door in Whangarei. I was only little tot but I remember Mum harumping and going to the kitchen window banging it shut a couple of times with a certain amount of satisfaction as if to say there got her. I was four so maybe this isn’t reliable but there was a story to go with it as there was wherever we moved. something always came up to sour relations with next door. Dad is doing alright these days gets veges from his next door so it must have been Mum generated all those years.
there was a low hedge between us and the older kids including my 2 sisters around 13 and 12 would play leap frog over it shouting rubber neck rubber neck meaning Mr Macaninny the school bus driver. Kay shudders whenever I mention that memory. She says Mum and Dad thought it was funny Sandra ,they should have stopped us.
in Taita it was Mrs Willis on one side and Mrs Wells on the other. their husbands had been friends and drowned in the Hutt River fishing one time. that was before we moved in. they hadn’t talked to each other since which placed us at piggy in the middle.Both of them had male boarders which caused raised eyebrows and comments in our household that I didn’t understand. Mrs Wills was not allowed in our house and got the blame for a tree that crashed on my bedroom window in a storm one time. she severed the roots mum and dad said. once dad told Mrs Wells to stick her head in a bucket of water twice and take it out once.
is it any wonder that occasionally my preset button pushes me into some sort of desire to blame the neighbour? still not going there.
it is really the cows in our forest that I object to the way they trample the delicacy of the shrubbery and habitat of the little creatures and their capacity to introduce pasture grasses thru their poo. it was kinda cute though wandering out to the verandah for a late night wee and them all lying around snoozing and farting and chomping .
last night on the eve of dark still grey holding the implied threat of rain I met the Frenchman on the track, him going out me returning from astrology . We wound down our windows and grinned at each other genuinely pleased to meet like this. is it going to rain? he asks me. my citrus they are bad the mandarins oranges dropping to the ground ,I have no water for them only some in the tank for me.
all the signs are there John I tell him . rain is on its way.
we smile and say good night .