I see you

a pair of purple swamphens, one looking directly at the camera, Canberra
Purple swamphens by the Lake Ginninderra, Canberra

Moving gingerly,
as predator towards prey,
worm eater locks eyes.

Birdwatching

Magpie on a tree looking up at the partly cloudy sunny sky on a summer afternoon, Canberra

Open-throated call,
looking up to the heavens;
showing off, magpie.

My neighbours, the corellas

Australia is known for many things. Great red deserts echoing oceans of silence, two-tonne crocks that leap miles over your head, sharks that killed more people last year than Covid did, kangaroos that avow up in your garden every day, the Great Barrier Reef that sadly has little barriers to entry, stunning summertime radiation that can cause skin cancer, spiders the size of your head, snakes nestling in the u-bend of your toilet, and a thousand-year-old history that most people don’t recognise.

Australia is known for many things, including its wide array of natural forces that can kill you.

But there’s so much more to this sunburnt mass hanging out at the bottom of the world map. There’s an opportunity for happiness everywhere you look.

Every evening, I ride my bike, smiling at weary folks pedalling home after work, eyebrows scrunched in the effort, mouths slightly ajar, huffing as they crank up their gears to scale tiny mountains.

On my way back, I slow down to watch the corellas’ sunset show. Hundreds of them call out to each other, flying over my head, their wings racing my wheels. They congregate on the telephone lines trapezing from one to another, hanging upside down, showing off gymnastic limbs. Young and adventurous, they nibble each other’s feathers, challenging friends to see who can balance on one foot for longer.

My neighbourhood corellas

Amidst their inharmonic cacophony, I see silent cockatoos perched atop tall trees, looking down at the antics of their less-worshipped cousins, prancing about as if they own the land. Until—one majestic golden-crowned cockatoo decides that she’s had enough.

She hoists herself from her eucalyptus, kicking at a weak branch as she did so, setting off a series of events.

As snapped tree bits rain on me, I swirl to avoid twigs in my wheels while at the same time, the screeching me intensifies with cockatoos and corellas now battling for attention, their cries punctured by mild protests from sophisticated galahs on their way home. They tut-tut at the noisy birds like an angry mother chiding teenagers who refuse to go to bed, as they pass by without stopping for fear of being pulled into the catfight.

And at that moment, when I ride past these socially non-distant, highly-lovable creatures, an immense joy floods through me, only to be enhanced by the luscious breeze that shoots through my post-gym sweat-soaked t-shirt. Long-standing grand-trees with their grey hair tips and browning hair buns wave at me, bringing a song to my lips and joy to my soul. The sun goes down, and I look forward to it all the next day.