This evening Mum and her friend took the dogs for a walk. I watched them gather up the hounds as they do every afternoon, waving leash clips as their entreaty. I felt like taking a clandestine photograph of these women dressed in raincoats, colourful beanies, psychedelic-rimmed op shop glasses and sensible shoes, their black and brindle dogs jumping all around them.
After they left, I saw the flash of a magpie beyond the lattice. I leave food out for them: old rice or breakfast cereals, any scraps that don't make it to the worm farm get thrown to the dogs or the magpies. In the nesting season I leave out strands of my hair for their nests.
This magpie visitor carolled and sang ... then it bloody talked about going for a walk, I swear it.
I stood up and the bird flew away.
Maybe Mum hadn't gone for a walk, I thought. Maybe she'd stayed in the driveway and it was her voice I could hear. It was uncanny. It sounded exactly like her warbling when she gathers up the dogs to put their leashes at the same time every day.
I thought I must be going mad. I've never heard a talking magpie before.
Mick was the first to come home from work and I mentioned the magpie, kinda casually in case he thought I was going crazy too.
'I'm glad you told me that, Sarah,' he said. 'The other day, I'm sure a magpie said hello to me. It sounded just like your mum.'
Has anyone else around these parts come across a talking magpie? This one is a young male, with clean cut black and white markings. He talks like a parrot, only more eloquent. He's not just a mimic ... I feel he could be a conversationalist.