Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hitchcock Revisited

Could the airing of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds the other night on TV been a warning? A prophecy? A seasonal anomaly? A magnet sent out on the airwaves to the air currents?

Whatever it was the currawongs have gone crazy. As in Hitchcock’s thriller they’ve been gathering, in small numbers at first, following me down the street and crisscrossing from one tree to the next, congregating in the backyard in groups of a dozen or more, giving me the dare you stare as they perch on the clothes line, fence and shed and strut around the yard as if they own the place.

Seeing The Birds as a young teenager scared the living daylights out of me and caused me to adopt a certain attitude and respect for that rather large beaked sleek black ornithological predator. The currawongs might not be quite as big as their crow cousins but those beaks look just as sharp, and the population has been gradually increasing until something set them off today throwing us into what sounded like a Hitchcock sequel.

Congregating down on the golf course they took off in groups, circling here, there and everywhere around the village, wave after wave, probably about a hundred in all, landing in yards, trees, perching on fences, houses and wherever they liked, all the time screeching and squawking, going totally off their face. I was fascinated, had to follow them, but as in The Birds the “attack” for want of a better term lasted only a few minutes as they eventually decided to leave us alone and head into the bush. 

Despite their bravado and safety in numbers they did tend to be somewhat camera shy, so the photo doesn't do the event justice. Will be interesting to see if they return tomorrow and continue their onslaught, or whether they meet up with more of their kind and go further afield to lay siege on some other poor unsuspecting neighbourhood.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Short & Sweet

 No, not a description of me, though the stature would be correct enough. ‘Tis the Winter Solstice, so what better way of making the most of the shortest day of the year than bouncing out of bed before sunrise to see how much I could pack into nine or so hours of daylight. It was worth wandering up and down for half an hour or so to catch the sunrise, waiting for the light to be just so, to get the best shot I could. Don’t know how the professionals set themselves up for hours on end waiting for the light, I wouldn’t have the patience.
Spent the morning tidying up and pruning in the Village Green, or murdering depending on what you’d think of our efforts. Giving creepers and shrubs a number 1 haircut or short back and sides if we were feeling more compassionate might mean things look a bit denuded for a while, but come spring they’ll grow rampant again and I’m sure will end up just as out of control as ever.

Took the afternoon to get over the morning, the old back is protesting loudly. Maybe I should’ve headed to Hobart and gone to the annual early morning skinny dipping winter solstice swim in the Derwent, part of the Dark MOFO Festival. Can’t imagine it would’ve limbered me up like a nice swim in a heated pool. Quite apart from the fact the sight of me in the buff would not have been one you’d want to see that early in the morning, the temperature of the water would probably have ended up causing me doing more harm than good as I froze my toes and every other bit of me. Definitely not that adventurous. Think I’d relegate that experience to the same category as running with the bulls in Pamploma. You’d have to be mad.

Anyway, the sun has already set, not spectacularly, but tomorrow marks the turnaround as the days lengthen again a minute or so at a time. Spring is definitely not just around the corner though, in fact winter hasn’t yet made much of an impact even here in Tassie. The real freeze is yet to come, snow is forecast in some parts early next week, so time to make that big pot of soup, chuck some spuds in the fire for dinner, curl up on the couch and make inroads into my accumulated pile of secondhand books purchased for just this reason.

Roll on Winter, do your best.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Marking the years

Have been having trouble dragging myself out of bed for my morning walk for a while, but figured what would’ve been Bob’s official retirement day warranted the effort. After several mornings of thick fog blanketing the valley, the fog was somewhat higher as I brightened up his grave with my little bunch of bright red leucodendrons to mark his 65th birthday. No spectacular sunrise to herald this occasion, just splashes of pale pink as the bank of fog rolled relentlessly on blocking out the hidden brightness attempting to light up the sky.

Thought I’d sit in the gazebo at the memorial garden on the one folding chair and contemplate this peaceful morning, but unfolding it revealed a cockroach and Huntsman spider had taken up residence in its folds so opted for visiting each of the eight burial sites instead, a reminder of the passing of some precious people over the past eleven years. Tinged with sadness, but full of warm memories, and it is the positive that remains.

We don’t tend to live our lives consciously thinking about what legacy we will leave behind, we just live it the best way we know how, often operating by the seat of our pants hoping and praying we’re raising our children to be honest and resilient in a world that often doesn’t treat them as it should, and that we’re also operating from a set of values which will see us through so we don’t stuff up too much as we stumble along what can sometimes be a rough road through life.

It is only after we’re gone that people refer to the legacy we have left behind. We can’t contrive it, performing in a certain way to manipulate how others perceive us. There are plenty who have tried I guess, but eventually it all unravels. We can spot a phony from fifty paces, and avoid them like the plague. But the genuine article? They earn our love and respect, and not necessarily because of what they have achieved but simply by who they are. They’re the ones whose legacy lives on in a positive way, not only with those who remember them after they’re gone, but with those whose lives have been enriched to the extent that those values are replicated, multiplied, given freely and generously, handed on to the next generation. You can’t fake it.