24 May 2014

Hanging the washing on the line on a sunny day is probably the only domestic chore that I don’t mind. Being accompanied by the song of a lyrebird makes it truly enjoyable. I hear the song more clearly since we saw the lyrebird at Barrington Tops. It seems to encompass the deep shelter of the rainforest, arising from some cool and shady bower. I hear the rich leaf litter in its resonance, the curl of fernfronds in its embellishments. Today it is the butcher bird’s call that is being improved upon, with extra depth and trills. Yesterday it was the whipbird. When the true whipbird called, it sounded thin and unsubstantial compared to the full-bodied, lengthily-drawn out build-up and the fantastically opulent whip! at the end of the lyrebird’s version.

Even our neighbour’s goat – tethered in the blackberries in an attempt to both whittle down the blackberry shoots and entertain the goat – stops his crying, stands still then kneels and rests, his ever-poised head pointing towards the patch of forest where the lyrebird is performing. This goat lost his partner recently, probably to snakebite, and it appears that a goat’s grieving process is both lengthy and highly emotional. He cried for days after the death, and is still unhappy, picking at his food, growing thin. He’s healthy, his coat is good, he is given everything he needs. It just isn’t the same without his friend.

As the cows meander up from the creek the goat gets agitated. I think it’s his chance to make a new friend, but he eyes them warily. They regard him with interest, or maybe it’s his bowl of cereal and bucket of water that catch their attention. One wanders over and makes light work of the cereal. The goat stands at the end of his tether – yes! – and moves as the cow moves, keeping as much room as possible between them. A cow is a big beast close up so I shouldn’t be surprised, but both goat and cow are grazing animals, which would suggest an affinity. The first cow moves on and a second one comes to take its place, nudging the cereal bowl and looking for any lost crumbs. It reaches over towards the goat, sniffing, positioning its body so that my sight of the goat is obstructed. Suddenly the cow’s hindquarters twitch away. It bends its head around and sniffs again – its hindquarters twitch again. It lets the goat butt with his pointy little horns a few times before it wanders on, joining the herd as they make their way up the hill, munching and grabbing at clumps of grass. The goat watches them go, maybe a bit wistfully, sensing his missed opportunity, or maybe a bit triumphant that he had seen them off his patch, taking victory from their amiable roaming.