31 January 2014

At dusk, the creek is strangely silent, the usual cacophony muted. A sole catbird, its husky croak lingering in the trees. A short burst of cicadas. Two black cockatoos fly a short distance, adding a few precious peals of their beautifully mournful calls to the uneasy evening. The air cools quickly.

We can talk of nothing but the weather. That is, the lack of rain. The paddocks are brown again, after the brief respite of the drizzle last week. The line where the bald hill meets forest is a series of grey patches – lantana, blackberry and more desirable trees that have lost their leaves, or failed to flourish at any time this summer. I am still angry at the crossword compiler who last week set the clue, ‘The brief account sounds pleasantly warm (7)’, playing on the homophone summery/summary, where the ‘pleasantly warm’ section of the clue is meant to indicate ‘summery’.  Pleasantly warm it is not, in our summer. We’ve been spared, so far, the spectacular heat that some areas have had. Our high temperatures have been in the 30s, rather than the 40s. But the dry has been devastating, defeating, relentless. Not pleasant.

The wallabies are becoming desperate again, and any hint of growth on mizuna, parsley or kale vanishes overnight, nibbled to the stalk. The grass is crackle-yellow again. Any small plant that suffers a setback moves quickly to death’s door. Our last surviving strawberry plant was scuffled by a stray paw – creature unknown – and despite some extra mulching and water is now losing the battle for life, leaf by leaf. The appearance of animals that we rarely see – a large echidna down on the creekflat, trundling along in an immediately endearing manner; two goannas, implacably thudding by the side of the road – is a cause for concern. Why are they there? Why aren’t they in their normal habitats? Are they looking for food, water? Will they survive?

The forecast is for rain next Tuesday. I hope everything can last that long.