IN a week or so I turn 65; this is a vast age and it seems only yesterday that I was 64. The one mitigating factor is that I seem to have discovered a new inner me. I have become devoted, albeit it in a half- hearted sort of way, to nature, especially birds, and I expect quite soon to be seen walking around the back garden with winged wonders settling on my shoulders and arms, a bit like St Francis of Assisi.
My son and my husband, who sometimes get into cahoots and talk about me in the third person as though I am not there, had a quiet snigger the other night when I announced plans to install a birdbath under the tree, so as to give succour to God’s thirsty creatures. In me, they share a common target. They reminded me that someone we know once bred mice to feed his cat; perhaps we could liven things up.
If I were hell- bent on attracting butcher birds and Indian mynahs, I could give these predators something to write home about. Add a frog pond for their sustenance, perhaps, and a few asps to keep them on their toes.
These are two men who share, too, a hatred of possums.
In fact I have been amazed at discovering in my nature channelling that this world is simply crawling with venomous possum- haters. Those who live near us ( possums) are on the nose again; the other evening the man of the house was ambling around the garden checking on the new bed of herbs, which had been flourishing, when he gave a big shout accompanied by a small dance of anger on the lawn; the herb garden had been decimated, as if some foraging four- legged beast had been out on the town.
Apparently it was the possums wot done it and a search party set out to find the trap. It had disappeared into thin air. Suspicious eyes were turned on me: had I hidden it?
In the event the handyman had borrowed it to snare some feral cats in his neighbourhood; people seem to be going beserk. But at least I was able to feign umbrage. My sulky fit was exacerbated by the fact the gardener said nasty vicious caterpillars were responsible for the demise of the herbs; all the more reason to encourage the birds, I shouted. The birds would eat the caterpillars and spread fear among the army worms that are preoccupied with chewing up the newly planted grass.
I would have executed an angry little dance to emphasise my passion but couldn’t; days previously I had kicked the dog, which had taken in his jaw one of the baby birds, which was learning to fly, and I badly stubbed my big toe. Besides which, my husband can do little dances as he is as fit as a flea, remarkably so for a man of an uncertain age. I seem to lag behind indolently, still waiting for some postmenopausal zest to kick in.
fraserj@ theaustralian. com. au