Sunday, October 12, 2008

Flotsam #2 Possums

Wagyl Swamp
One hundred bucks each. A landscaper's bonanza! Aussie and I laid planks over blackberry briars and lurched into the soggy quagmire of the swamp to plunder feral but lucrative tree ferns.
We woke up a nocturnal ringtail with our graceless incursion and she straddled another feral, the Taylorina, glaring at us with huge indignant and bloodshot eyes. "What the HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? I'm trying to sleep!"

The Big Storm
It was an all nighter. We'd not seen each other for four years. Our Sunshine drank tea and I warbled my way through two or three cleanskins. The wind began at six am. By that time, we'd sorted out what to do with our degrees, how to make a two bedroom house out of one and elaborated on various theories about dingoes and quadrupeds.
By seven am, whole trees flew across the paddock like witches on broomsticks. The childhood treehouse exploded. We stoked the tile fire and decided the kids were definitely not safe out in the caravan. We also decided to stay away from all windows. The phone and power were out for two days.

Today, at Mum's, I found a possum, a mummified baby hanging from a eucalyptus casualty, her tail still twining around one twig. Ring Tail. Dried out and desiccated.
I thought, two months ago, that storm. I remember that, our warm fire, our bottles of wine, our university degrees, our cups of tea, our comfort.
That night must have been pretty rough for possums, with those trees flying around like they did.

Like foxes, cane toads or rabbits, they made sense at the time. If you venture around the (many and irregular) corners from Queenstown to Glenorchy, past the chocolate box scenescapes beyond any landscape you ever imagined and past the iconic cabbage trees and snow mountained greenery and massive rivers of glittering mica, you will come across a little town where there is one cafe, one house and one shop that sells possum skin bikinis.
I had to have one.
At Customs on return to the homeland... I try to explain. These critters are native to our country! But it wasn't the possum bikinis that sent off the dogs, the buzzers, the hyped up airport goons. It was the children. They won't let them in because one has a suitcase full of knives and a school backpack that smells suspiciously of bananas. The other one...I won't say what she managed to smuggle into Australia but no wonder she was a bit twitchy at the air port.

Pure Drunken Confidence
They fly, they fall but always with illogical grace. Possums crash. They do. They crash with style. I clench up and wait for that nasty thud of body on earth but it never happens. They seem to survive that loose "I know this branch will catch me and swing and fling me back up to a better branch" kind of action. It reminds me of my teenage years for some reason.

1 comment:

  1. taylorina is a beautiful tree that bees make the bestest ever honey from - light, fragrant, yum. Strange but fitting the tree came from Sth Africa and was brought here by Patrick Taylor...