I now have a new addition to my room, next to the floor length window – a little desk. I have my laptop there, a jar of paper beads, sheets of paper, three pairs of scissors, a fine brush, some PVA glue (Fevicol) and a host of good intentions.
But outside the window is where all the action is. The earliest to turn up are a couple of large crow like magpies, picking at bits of bark and eyeing the occasional uncovered beetle with great surprise before eating it with a sense of doing the poor insect a favour. This makes them break into the most melodious crooning, far better as a wake-up call than my phone’s mechanical alarm. I pull the curtains open and check what the day will be like. This is usually also a signal for them to hop and fly heavily away across the road to the hill where they keep reappearing in the knee high grass.
The show then moves to the branches of the mulberry tree to the left. Five, sometimes ten honey eaters crowd on the pencil thick branches, amid flashes of yellow wing, sharp black beaks stabbing the thickly encrusted green buds, picking off insects and sucking dew off the leaves. The leaf fall has just ended for the mulberry and it is already clothing itself for the coming season. It is only humans who crumble with frustration over winter cold and summer heat. Nature always knows it is not going to last and gets on with things in preparation. The gusts of wind took all our leaves and dumped them up and down the street and I wonder if others think where the big golden hearts came from as they find them on their front lawns, just as I know that the peach leaves come from the garden belonging to the old Chinese couple opposite us and the papery bougainvillea petals turning to dust on the footpath are next door’s. I have seen them dance on the trees during the hot days of December and January and felt their rustle on the wind at night. The mulberry traces the lines of the hill with its branches in the fading evening light, through a little assistance from me and a pair of secateurs. Then suddenly it is bristling with buds, both flowers and leaves and all sense of planning is gone. Today I read that the presence of bees on mulberry is a bad thing as it means the tree is a male and will not fruit well. A quick trip outside confirms that we have a female tree. All is well and I take about twenty cuttings including one which is tree sized, and should make a nice Christmas present for someone if it takes root.
The honey eaters are barely gone, dive bombing the driveway on their way out, when a pair of willie wagtails swoop down, pendulum tails wagging from side to side with each burst of flight. They flit among the naked branches, truly there is no other way to describe their flight; soon something distracts them and they move to the road. Hop, wag, wag. hop, wag, flit, flit; till one moves out of my sight and the other one decides to go and investigate the tall grass on the hill. I watch, suddenly painfully aware of the big black and white cat that I saw yesterday in the same bit of grass. It stood stock still, poised like a tiger and pounced very smartly on something moving in the grass, first in one direction and then another. Every time after a pounce, it would return to a curved branch of a tree lying or growing along the ground and sit on the highest part. Then it was off, pouncing again. But luckily for the wagtail, the cat does not seem to be outdoors today. I have to drag my attention from the drama outside and write something.
But first, I must write this down before I forget and the season changes.