my favourite locals
There’s so much life down here on the far south coast. Wombats trotting doggedly along the road’s edge. Gently, spiky little echidnas clambering up the storm water guttering – oh my goodness, their legs are SO short, I don’t know how they manage. Ringtail possums sitting in amongst the toys on the bookshelf in the attic – seriously!. Tall, loping kangaroos gathering on the front lawn each evening for a grassy snack. Cockatoos and lorikeets galore. So much of this makes us giggle – it truly does look like the Australia many folks overseas imagine we all live with, all the time. Kangaroos on the front lawn indeed!
I’m very fond of the smaller, less flamboyant locals too – my good friends the sea sponges that hunker down on the rocks at Bar, the everpresent and always crazy seagulls that strut about us when we visit the beach, and the thousands of bees that are currently adoring the Red Flowering Gums planted by a very wise soul with an eye to future beauty and shade in the carpark of a recently built local shopping centre. Come along, I’ll introduce you …
:: we head over to the rocks that lie on the far end of Bar :: as we near the water, their smooth red and black backs become home to old oysters, snails, tiny crabs, and eventually … the sea sponges :: when first you notice them, they look like a rather ugly clumping of weed and sand :: then you look closer and realise the rocks are encrusted with marvellous gatherings of soft yet sturdy chimneys :: those that are currently washed by the tide or sitting just under the water open their star shaped eyes, you peer down through the rippling water and oh – such a pretty coral red and if you peer even closer, one or two slits of deep black at the very bottom, tucked safely away in a corner :: the sponges sway with the tide, seeming to breathe gently, collectively, in and out, in and out :: my favourite bit, when they squeeze shut their eye and squirt a lovely long stream of crystal clear sea water up into the air – makes me laugh every time :: truly they smile at me, and in my imagination, they hear me when I talk to them, and reply with bobs and squirts, openings and closings ::
:: oh they are such funny little thieving things :: always on the lookout for bounty but not very good at keeping what they find :: today’s prize – one of them steals Abby’s crust from her lunch box :: we say to them, just eat it! stop with the posturing, dancing and squawking! :: but oh no, these two make such a fuss, they draw the attention of a dozen of their competitors and without even noticing – their too busy proving to each other who is the most fierce and worthy of a crust – their morsel is stolen, the victor swooping away to the rocks to enjoy her prize in peace ::
:: I walk back to the car from the shops – icecreams and stone fruit in my bag – and think how pretty the flowering red gums are :: their incredible fieriness against the vivid blue sky suggests that the air about them should simmer with heat :: instead – thousands of bees :: swooping and diving and wriggling their little butts deeper into the blossoms :: the air vibrates with their energy :: as I snap away with the camera, people stop and say “Yes, aren’t they pretty flowers … oh wow! look at all the bees!” Yes, you find so much more when you stop :: I am so grateful for the clever and thoughtful person that chose these Australian beauties :: we’ll come back in 10 years and it will be magnificent – a glow of red that sailors will surely glimpse from the bay as they scoot past ::