Friday, March 23, 2018

Caldyanup Diaries #5

Struggling with a sense of relevance today. Which is normal if your job is to look for things and you can't see anything.

 Finally anything past the granite is white and I'm calling in fives all round for visibility. I realise when I go outside that the north facing wall is crawling with bees. They have no pollen on their legs and they are just sort of mopey. Like they have lost their queen or hive and home.

The cloud clears for half an hour and I can call in two smokes from the burn nearest the tower. And then this ... it's not a fire, it's almost it's opposite. A wall of rainbow.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Caldyanup Diaries #4

I learned something yesterday. A snake slowly slid across the granite, sluggish, like it was too cold. It went over to the concrete steps and hid behind them for a while. I'm thinking I'm not gonna let this one go out of my sight, so watched from the tower for a while, ignoring the visibility sched call until an impatient officer radioed me. 'Tower. Two's all round,' and slammed the receiver down and went back to the window.

The snake emerged from behind the stairs and headed for the tower tower, it's tiny head nosing across the lichen and rust stains. I think it was a dugite but I've haven't seen this colouration before. It was striped like a tiger. It seemed quite gentle and a bit doughy as dugites tend to be.

By the time it was a few feet from the door, I had to work out what to do. They do like to get into the tower, I've heard. If I threw something at it I could panic the snake into the wrong direction and I'd still have to head out there and pick up said item. Aghh! The snake ambled closer. I grabbed the squirty bottle of metholated spirits that we used to clean the map table with, and squirted the stuff on the ground next to the snake.

The snake stopped, motionless except for its forked tongue which flickered in and out, tasting the air. Then it quite deliberately turned around and left the area. So there you go. A verifiable anecdote that flammable liquids deter the serpent. The best thing is that you don't have to get too close to a potentially deadly snake and they survive the encounter as well.

The whole time this little drama played out there was a show on the radio about the first man to catch a live taipan to produce an anti venom. Actually, the man died in the process, but not until after he'd hitched a ride back from the rubbish tip where he'd found the snake gorging on a rat. He was holding the taipan by its neck when the seven foot critter spat out the rat and wrapped itself around his body. And yes, a truck driver actually picked him up and drove him to his mate's house. (Who picks up hitch hikers with deadly snakes wrapped around them?) He was bitten there while trying the get the taipan into a bag. Although this odd hero died, the first recipient of the anti venom, a ten year old boy, survived a taipan bite.

After my dugite left, I went outside and a bee became tangled in my hair and stung me.
I guess that's Sarah 1. Nature 1.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Women of a Certain Age

"She was not old, nor young, nor at the years/Which certain people call a certain age,/Which yet the most uncertain age appears." (Byron 1817),
I'm not sure what the phrase 'a certain age' means or what age they are talking about. Something to do with the menopause maybe? A gendered observation anyway, seeing as it is never applied to men. Perhaps it is the age when women cut all their hair off, take to wearing loud saris and have an affair with someone thirty years their junior - ie. a midlife crisis if you were male.

Far out. I don't know. What I do know is that when I was asked to contribute an essay to the anthology Women of a Certain Age, I felt a chill in my ovaries and thought oh no, oh no it's begun oh no. No matter. As usual in these situations where I am asked to participate in an anthology, I used the speccies as a leaping off point and wrote what was really on my mind.

So my story 'Living at Clarkie's Camp' is about pig hunters naturally. Pig hunters! Fugitives! Monster dogs! Love affairs! Gateway guardians! Setting net for sea mullet!

Women of a Certain Age is out on Thursday this week. It's a great book with some brilliant pieces by writers such as Anne Aly, Krissie Kneen, Liz Byrski and Goldie Goldbloom. There is one of my favourites in there and you can read for yourself to find your own faves. From the brilliant Fremantle Press. Very proud, I am.