Yesterday I ran into an old friend at the supermarket. She now lives near Ballarat, but is here for a month or so to see her parents, who are 95 and 98. She, Christine, and her partner John invited me around for a cuppa and a catch up. It was lovely to see them, and to exchange news on our lives, books we like, memories too.
Today’s post is the result of this surprise meeting, and the memories it evoked of a camping trip I took with Christine and Brian (the latter died in 2004). We went to find letter wing kites, lovely birds who were nesting somewhere way out in the desert. We stayed at a few places – Montecollina Bore (just gorgeous) sticks in my mind – and we came back through the Flinders and Gammon Ranges – the first gobsmacking time I had ever been there too. There were 5 of us altogether – Christine and Brian, a colleague of Brian’s and a young woman originally from South Africa I think. I had never camped before, and was wildly unconfident and inexperienced at the art. Looking back, I felt quite out of my depth much of the time (it wasn’t until at least half way through the trip that I worked out that the flat roll up mattress that I had under my sleeping bag could be blown up for example!). These feelings of inadequacy however vied with total wonderment at the world around me.
On the first day, driving up through the settled areas and then into wilder parts, we kept stopping to look at this and that – a tree, a view. One of these stops was for an eagle’s nest. There was much discussion and looking through binoculars to see what we could from the ground. The parent birds were not there, and so they (definitely not me, I was shitting myself) decided to climb up to have a look. In the end of course I ended up having a go too, with lots of support and direction from the others (‘put your left foot up a bit more’, ‘there’s a fork just up a bit’ etc). When I got there, well it was amazing – this baby eagle looking cheerfully straight at me, surrounded by dead rabbits and a sibling in a smelly nest. Fantastic. I must have had my camera with me, a film camera of course, this being about 1985, and I took the picture below.
As is the way with these things, in recollection the fears are far outweighed by the amazement, beauty and enrichment of the experience, and I am minded to say, in this second week of January, that I hope all of us find a bird this year.