Sunday, 26 September 2010

Killing Time? WHY???

Yesterday, after my ride down here, I was dreamily looking out the window at the gathering of birds, bush rats and so on that make up the whole Adobe Flats experience, and I saw something I've never seen before, which reduced me to tears of laughter.

This is a wonga pigeon:

They seem like gormless, ungainly birds, with a small head plonked onto a big plump body. They make an irritating 'woop woop woop' call for hours on end. If they were human they'd be a bit like Lenny in Of Mice & Men, I reckon.

This is an Australian native bush rat:

(downloaded from http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/bush-rat/ Source: Gary Lewis)

They are cute little things that move at the speed of lightning. Generally – well, at Adobe anyway – they coexist peacefully with the thuggish rainbow lorikeets, gentle king parrots, raucous galahs, tiny fire-browed finches etc etc. They nibble at the spent husks that the birds chuck out of the seed box and generally help to keep the place tidy.

Until yesterday.

Oh I wish I'd had my camera at the ready, set to capture a video! A dopey wonga pigeon clearly felt a bit threatened by a lone bush rat which was looking for food in the same general area. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, but the wonga pigeon puffed itself up to look as scary as possible – it fanned out its tail and raised its wings – and – this is true – bopped the bush rat hard on the head with one of its wings! The bush rat leaped away at lightning speed, of course, and then crept back to retrieve its seed husks. Wonga was ready – BOP! Ratty bolted again.

This was repeated three or four times, while tears of helpless laughter ran down my cheeks – it was like a cartoon! I do hope there'll be a repeat performance today – this time I have my camera ready.

Just imagine if I hadn't been 'killing time' after my lovely ride down here...

We talk about 'killing time' a lot. Today, on a gentle 10km stroll into Mallacoota and back (which nearly killed me, by the way) I realised that killing time is the last thing in the world that I want to do!

Yes, time is often my enemy. But I never have enough of it – why on earth would I want to kill it? If anything, I would want to multiply it, give myself gobs and gobs of it so I had plenty, and never had to feel as if it was running out.

The things you think about when your feet are killing you and your bursitis is doing that thing that bursitis does, and you're not sure that you're going to make it up the final bush track back to Adobe Flats...

When I don't kill time, but instead let it drift slowly past, I find the most fabulous things. Look.


This drift of flowers was growing beside the board walk.

This lizard was poking its head out of one of many holes in a dead tree.

These kangaroos were sitting in the grass, just behind a motel and across the road from the newsagents in town! Quite large, they were, too. One was at least as tall as me, so I didn't try to get too close. It being spring and all, I didn't know whether there might be a joey near by – protective roos can be pretty scary.

And there was birdsong. The incessant 'woop woop woop' of wonga pigeons could drive a person batty, but the call of the eastern whipbird, the cackle of the kookaburra, bellbird chimes and various other assorted (and to me, unidentifiable) tweets, chirps and whistles created a symphony as I wandered along the roadside, letting my mind wander while my eyes and ears tuned in.

I spotted birds I haven't seen before, and they were kind enough to stand still long enough for me to commit their features to memory so that I can now say, fairly confidently, that I saw some grey fantails and (I think) perhaps some New Holland honeyeaters – and some others I can't quite identify – maybe later in the week.

So anyway, it took me a bit over 2 hours to get there and back – rather than killing time, I embraced it; made the most of it and loved finding unexpected things - apart from sore feet! Silly me for walking into town on a Sunday – this is a small town and it's only spring, not the holiday high season, so not much was open – I had hoped to buy a hat, seeing as I'd forgotten to bring one, and the stunning spring weather probably demands one. Will have to do it all over again tomorrow – but I think I might ride my bike instead.

6 comments:

Peter said...

Always love your work, Betty. A fresh eye on life.

Anonymous said...

We love a bit of rat-whopping!

JohnO said...

A roo nearly as tall as you? So, what are we looking at? 3 feet tops?

Sue said...

You're a cruel man Johno :-P

Julie said...

Ah you make me sooo look forward to the two weeks off I have starting next Monday...

love your work, hun!

Pisshead Pete said...

Those cute little bush rats can be more allusive than intruder kitty!

Not only do they prefer to nest, and chew wires, in the valley of V8's, but by the time you get to town and realise there's something more than the smell of bushfire in the air, there's no roast to be found either!

Must be Johno's shout. ;-)