At 6am this morning I watched five ibis and two black crows perch on a dilapidated, chain-link fence shaded by a massive poinciana tree. Among the flamboyant, flaming-orange flower clusters bejewelling the tree, sat seventeen pairs of cockatiels loudly voicing their opinions whilst grooming one another.
My two walking companions – an exquisitely beautiful apricot and white border collie and a wee scruffy ball of fluff – tugged on their leads, bored to the back teeth with the birds, in the direction of Koala Park where they could shed their tethers and run like the wind. Or, in scruffy's case, in circles. Every blade of grass a mystery.
Cleveland, Brisbane. Hot already. Whistling a goodbye to the birds, I followed the dogs into the park. Melancholy snuck up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder as I unclipped leads and looked around: two dogs – but not my dogs. Glittering sea – but not my sea. Sand – red and coarse-grained, not fine and yellow. A touching morning with nuances reminiscent of my life once, not so long ago. But not my life.
After nearly dislocating my shoulder repeatedly hurling a blue ball for the collie and unable to repress a grin at scruffy's absolute glee in anything at all, we walked back to my friend's house in the now scorching heat. The collie walks ten steps then jogs six. Always herding. Scruff's movements are entirely random. My new walking shoes hurt my feet and my eyes. I alternately crane my neck up at the tall gum trees lining the streets in the hope of seeing a koala the park didn't produce, and peer down to scan the paths and verges for snakes. A koala I want to see. A snake not at all.
Eventually, we three turn into our street and open our gate. We gulp cold water. Collie and scruff flop panting on to the tiled floor while I thank technology for air conditioning and shuck off my shoes.
I chop up vegetables for my green juice. Another morning, another day. Juicing the greens I hear a pair of kookaburras laughing raucously outside the kitchen window. With me, I hope, not at me.
"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.
Merry, merry little bird is he.
Sing, Kookaburra. Sing, Kookaburra.
Sing your song for me."
Because it's a lonely feeling standing at someone else's kitchen bench trying to stumble upon a new life for myself.