18 November 2015
If I could, I would paint this scene. I would call it ‘Late afternoon with flying ants’. I would capture the bright late afternoon light on the little eucalypt – fading now, the leaves no longer glowing yellow but reduced to their usual grey-green – and the continuous flow of flying ants from the old tree stump. Each set of wings catches the light as it rises. Collectively they catch the wind, blowing to the north, then to the east. Reminding me ridiculously of a bubble machine, they stream up and out, glinting gold against a background of multiple greens – every green in the Derwent pencil box. The swallows circle them, paragons of control against the wafting mass of ants.
Once the sun is behind the hills, the land slowly darkens and the orchestra of the night commences. Against the violin section of cicadas and frogs, magpies, catbird and whipbird add highlights. The magpies are in the distance, their four-note call rising and falling sweetly. Closer in, the catbird adds a harsh, throaty stream, punctuated by the whip! whhhhip! whipbird. The deep repetitive bass of the wonga pigeon sets a dignified underlying tone. The magpies move further away, the catbird takes a solo. One frog calls, magnified from the drainpipe, chuckchuckchuck. The owlet nightjar starts its trilling, the frog-cicada chorus takes over, louder and louder, rhythmic, unstoppable. Kookaburras make a final call. It’s night-time.
In the dark night (the half-moon already well on its way into the west) the spotted marsh frog sputters out its crk crk crk, the stony creek frog purrs gently behind the house. A green tree frog is plastered to the bedroom door, its white belly flat against the glass, its sucker feet spread. When I turn off the light the bumps of moths and small insects against the door slows down, then stops.