August 1 2014
It was a wild hot day. The first of August, still the middle of winter, and it’s too hot in the sun. The air is full of bushfire smoke. The fire season has been declared early in our area, starting today, so yesterday there were burn-offs all around. With today’s wind whipping up ferocious gusts, many of those fires are still burning.
One particularly dramatic gust blew past the house like a gale, a vivid assertion of unassailable power. It blew the chook house right over, leaving the chooks indignant and homeless but unscathed. We didn’t get to them until late afternoon, by which time they’d made their own plans, escaped the run and spent a happy few hours foraging under the tamarillos and lemon grass. The chook house was only slightly damaged and was fixed with a few new screws and a couple of judicious cuts where things no longer quite met. It might have been designed for an effete Sydney backyard, but it’s holding its own in this more exposed environment.
It’s a dark night, the moon a sweet line of mellow light, the stars bright in a black sky. The air has cooled right down. I go into the bedroom to get my book and notice ears in the garden. The ears are still while the upright stalks of the rosemary bush sway in what’s left of the wind. Two wallabies are close by the house, eating the stumps of the parsley plants they’ve demolished in previous forays and moving in on the fennel. They are the smaller, lighter, greyer wallabies with black noses. Martin is still in the lounge room and their heads come up at every noise he makes. Heads down then Martin opens an envelope and heads shoot up, ears swivel, paws are still. Heads down, paws reaching out to grab flyaway fennel stems then Martin pushes his chair back and heads shoot up. I read recently about a study that has shown that the kangaroo / wallaby uses their tail like a fifth leg, particularly for taking off from a stationary position. I can’t see the tails of the wallabies in the garden, but when Martin turns off the sitting room light, they’re off, bounding down the hill.