Saturday, August 20, 2011

Currawongs and other things

Currawongs are quite large birds - about twice as big as magpies.  Glittering and black, they fly down to us when it gets too cold in the hills that are their homes.  There is something rakish about them: they chortle and yammer and soil clothes on the clothesline, but they have the most beautiful bell like song that rings out like a celebration as they cross the sky.
I quite like spiders - mine, anyway.  My house has daddy-long-legs: sizeable but having a fragile look, and harmless. Occasionally I sweep them down, feeling unpleasantly like the wrath of God as I wipe out their homes and larders.   I also have Bruce.
Bruce is blacker, stronger than those, with bigger, hairier legs, and looks more threatening - tho' he's not.  Over the years I've only seen one of him at a time, which is why he is named, and why I continue to see him as the same spider reincarnated, even tho' I've not only seen him dead, but on occasion have caused it....I've felt somewhat like Arthur Dent and the rabbit.
 Bruce appears unpredictably:  on one occasion he was on my leg in the shower. Flicking him off, I saw him balled into a tiny heap, saturated with hot water: well and truly past it.  Half an hour later, when I went back to the bathroom, Bruce had revived and was attempting to climb the tile step to the exit.  Repeatedly, he climbed, slid down the glossy surface, picked himself up, climbed again, slid down....Of course I put a towel down to give him a foothold.
Then a newcomer appeared outside.  He was quite fearsome looking: about 12 cm long, and with a huge abdomen.  His web went from the roof to a tree - close to 3 metres - and, unfortunately, above my route to my car.  I consoled myself, as his web and he grew, that spiders have a firm grip on things and don't fall.  Then, while I was typing away on the computer, Bruce fell onto my face, rather shaking my confidence in this.
Then the currawongs arrived, and in a wink the interloper was gone.
At my father's small funeral, 29 years ago, currawongs sang and rejoiced across the heavens, like a tribute. Both he and I couldn't have wished for better.
Kingsley, a 16 year old schoolboy, played the last post on his trumpet, arranged by the old soldiers assoc.   I really still don't know how they knew that he was a veteran. It was not something that my father cultivated or even spoke of much.  "It was a famous victory," he would quote.
K and Linda were together since way back then.  She was a 10 year old in a netball skirt when I first knew her.  They married young, and now, middle aged, live down "my" lane - a few doors from where L grew up -  had two sons, the second of whom has Down's syndrome. 
Living in a smallish town -20000 when I arrived, 60000 now - one can feel a little like a Miss Marple.  Minus the murders, of course, because there was only one of those - ok,  two - that I had any contact with, and there was no mystery about them at all.


The Elephant's Child said...

Oh the joy of currawongs. We have a family of them visiting at the moment. They, like many of our visiting birds are partial to green apples, and are meticulous in the way they level it off as they eat it. Unlike the cockatoos who rip, tear and gouge.
Spiders are fine. The smaller portion does not agree and has been known to try and drown them in fly spray. I sweep them up in the dust pan and put them outside.
There would be many, many people worse to become than Miss Marple. I always thought she had much more charm than Hercule.

Frances said...

We are taught to follow the small portion's line, Elephant's Child. I work a little with children, and can't believe how consistently their reaction to any insect is "kill it!"
I, (having little conscience), try to harrow them with tales of the children and family waiting patiently at home for the father/mother ant/bee/ladybird/etc who will never return. Sometimes I get a dawning look of awakening empathy.

Relatively Retiring said...

I wish I had currawongs at my place, if only for their wonderful name.
This post has been like a short visit to you, and I also had a 'Bruce' when we lived in a bungalow, many years ago. Our Bruce lived under and around the bath. When we wanted to use it we put him out of the window, and by the time the bathing was over we would open the front door, where Bruce would be waiting to come in again, having walked quite a distance round the outside of the place.
I now wonder how many Bruces there really were.

Frances said...

Currawongs are sort of loutish, RR, but in a special way...a bit like the ute full of teens that I heard making their way down the main street with their boom box blaring "Carmina Burana".
I'm pleased, but not surprised, that Bruce has international cousins.
A real visit would be nice: a virtual one has to do in the meantime.