Dad hops on the plane at Merimbula. he is stoic wanting to get away, his bottom lip is trembling and his face is a mask of holding emotion that threatens to engulf him.
I am ticked all over with those tiny dot ticks . . . . . . . .
. . . . yep as small as that full stop. this is them at the larvae stage. so after mum has laid some 2500 to 3000 eggs they hatch out and what do you know they need a feed, they need blood so they hop into the bushes and wave their insey wincey little legs around until like a giant angel I wander into their domain. bam bam they hop on board and suck.
if I don’t kill them that is if they achieve their drink they then morph into the next stage and become a nymph, sounds kinda cute doesn’t it?
I always think of nymphs as fey and mysterious .well not these nymphs they are now the size of a small freckle and have two more legs giving them 8 to wave around. they need blood too so they lurk around the shrubbery waiting for something to wander past.
apparently bandicoots are a good score. I am assured that they do not drop out of trees but lurk around about 50 cm off the ground waving waiting.
we should probably admire this sort of commitment because obviously their lack of size is no hindrance to their lifestyle.
Blithely I launched into new year resolutions this year – two pages of them written in my really cool rainbow pencil that changes hue as you form the lines.
insects – be kind I wrote.
this is definitely not what I had in mind – becoming a serial donor to these itsy bitsy irritations.
it was probably a more romantic idea I had – like gently easing the huntsman off the wall in Elsie’s laundry onto a bit of paper cupped in a glass and gently depositing it outside in the bushes.
further away than that she screeches in my ear as we watch it trundle off .
or lifting the moth reverently and placing it out of the way of big feet or flipping the beetle over so it can strut off to wherever
that sort of helpful thing not this itch and scratch.
something about bush living never a dull moment, even when I end up being the butt of the joke..
Dad has been and gone.
he has once again enjoyed the sitting on the verandah watching the bend in the trees, the dedicated fig eating of the black swamp wallabies, the hop skippity of the wren around his feet, the spritely splash in the tank of the yellow-faced honeyeater and the lazy coil of the black snake guarding the stacked wood on the verandah.
in between all these activities he snoozes.
the black swamp wallaby sits at the bottom of the steps nosing its way into the cape gooseberry and trimming the leaves. the gooseberries inside their little lanterns are long gone.
the diet of these shy gentle beings is advancing season by season generation by generation.
once we could grow our food without fences. our veges sprawled over a large area around the house and would remain uneaten by wildlife for the most part. the orchard was a feast of peaches mandarins grapefruit figs and mulberries. netting was unheard of.
in those halcyon days we had the red necked wallaby mob living around the house and you had to walk a fair way into the forest to even catch a glimpse of the black swampy. somewhere along the way the world changed and positions reversed.
a red wallaby in close is a rare sighting.
perhaps because the vegetation around the house thickened to a depth and richness that the swampies enjoy. But ever since they have come in, it has become increasingly harder to grow food without it being plundered. like so many other forest dwellers we have been forced into creating an enclosure for the foods we don’t want to share.
only problem is that as each season passes and each generation is a little bit more cocky more and more foods are being added to their repertoire.
rhubarb leaves – oxalic acid and other toxins not a problem .
the chive hedge – no more.
in winter they discovered the bark of the loquat tree and effectively ring barked the trunks .
this summer the new discovery is figs and fig leaves – they just haven’t learnt to climb yet but give them time.
oregano marjoram yep don’t mind it at all.
vietnamese mint can’t get enough of it.
thyme a little bit here and there.
comfrey leaves absolutely.
rosemary so far avoided but don’t hold your breath.
they are innovative and evolving .
lemon leaves for that delicious citrus flavour.
as you can see probably a fairly terrific diet medicinal calming nourishing .
natives shrubs should be safe from their predations we thought once upon a time.
but gee how yummy is the new vulnerable shoots of the bottlebrush the boronia the hakea the correa.
Dad and I hug again. he walks thru the gate towards the plane.
Kay is still saying goodbye to her family. reaching up to hug Floyd, touching the locks of Shyann and Natalia, pressing her son Wade to her one last time, a giggle with Elsie moisture gathering in eyes.
come on Kay I call out.
everyone else is already seated on the plane.
Dad turns looking for her.
bye Dad I love you he tears up and nods bravely.
eventually without hurry she has hugged them all , Beau tall and pimply 16-year-old lad , a final joke with Stacey the new Mrs Asplin and then she gets to me.
we hug at which point I burst into loud messy tears on her shoulder, she starts too and we clasp each other like a drowning person holds onto a life raft and mumble words bodies shaking.
off she goes joins up with Dad turns and looks back at us all.
I snivel pulling a hanky out of my bag, my glasses have fogged up and where on earth did that wave come from?
Wade comes over and hugs me tight.
we stand together watch the plane clear the runway setting its nose for Sydney.
Shyann said she wanted kiwi Nana to stay for 100 weeks. One morning she took Kay to school with her for show and tell but when Kay got up in front of the class Shyann couldn’t get any words out , all show and no tell.
over lunch the little girls try to understand the connections
sisters cousins who is your mum pappap nanas dad aunties uncles.
who we all are in relation to each other.
the lines blur boundaries dissolve another person joins the family another birth.
I am trying to overcome my fear of going back into the garden.
we are desperate for kindling and I am still not keen to host any more little blighters.
I lurk in bed in the mornings so John has to light Stanley.
suits him he has a shed to restore.
Mac has moved in for a bit and is assisting John with the shed.
they seem to be enjoying it.
the job like the family seems to be getting bigger and bigger.
yesterday evening I put some old eggs out into the garden for the goanna. it has been around the house most days probably looking for more camembert but no such luck.
is it off ? John pokes it under Macs nose.
I don’t know. I don’t know either and he re wraps it and puts it back in the fridge.
last night a ratty stole one of the eggs brought it up to the verandah and left the eaten out shell for us to find. this is without doubt the same fella that took the two litre plastic milk bottle and snipped the red lid into tiny pieces. finding no joy in that it ate holes in the bottom of the bottle to get at a smear of old milk.
lunchtime the goanna turns up and with its forked tongue leading the way finds the eggs and slurps them down. it seems a clumsy process from my point of view but a few gulps later the egg in the gullet has shifted down the throat and disappeared.
the house is feeling empty the bedroom in the lounge room is vacant.
I ring dad he is back home now tired from his trip.
outside on the verandah the goanna is wrecking havoc. the eggs were not enough. the mop at the back door has hit the floor. if the door had not been shut it would have come in. it has happened before and no small task to turn them around and get them out. the rubbish is being scattered all over the place – a frenzy of plastic bags slathered over . it keeps coming back to the camembert / egg spot in the garden its tongue wandering over the ground again and again.
I have left some tomato seed pulp there but it gives that a wide berth.
so far they are not evolving into vegetable eaters.
I keep on scratching and decide the kindling can wait another day.