(bedrid­den)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - So­nia Wa­ter­fall Re­view this­life@theaus­tralian.com.au

After a re­cent knee re­place­ment op­er­a­tion and be­ing con­fined to the house for a few weeks of bed rest, my en­tire world has shrunk to the view from my bed­room win­dow.

Sud­denly, ev­ery­thing that was pre­vi­ously taken for granted is now of great in­ter­est: the com­ings and go­ings of neigh­bours as they drive to work on week­days, have a night out on Fri­days and go to church on Sun­days. The week­day mail de­liv­ery be­comes a high point of my day and even the weekly visit of the rub­bish truck is of in­ter­est. Dog own­ers de­liver and col­lect their dogs at the ken­nels up the road, dog­walk­ers go past every morn­ing and horse riders at week­ends.

It is a beau­ti­ful au­tumn on the New Eng­land Table­lands in north­ern NSW. I watch the weeds grow­ing in my for­merly colour­ful and tidy gar­den and wait im­pa­tiently for the day to come when I will feel well enough to get out­side and ad­dress them. At the same time I gain com­fort from it, and par­tic­u­larly from the pond and the glit­ter and move­ment of the wa­ter spray­ing from the foun­tain in the sun­light. I watch the leaves turn colour and fall from the poplars across the road and the grass dry out and turn to gold, striped by the shad­ows cast by the trees.

I watch the kan­ga­roos and wal­la­bies con­tinue their daily lives, com­ing out to feed at dawn and dusk. The joeys race around and have fun be­fore re­turn­ing to their moth­ers. The el­ders of the mob sit up, keep watch and have a good scratch.

Some­times they all take off at once and race through the grass and dis­ap­pear from view — maybe spooked by a dog-walker or a par­tic­u­larly noisy ve­hi­cle. I watch the lo­cal mag­pies, cur­ra­wongs and kook­abur­ras gather and I hear their morn­ing and evening cho­ruses. Small flocks of fire­tails and fairy wrens fly in for the grass seeds in the small patch of lawn out­side my win­dow and a honeyeater perches on the win­dowsill and ad­mires its re­flec­tion in the glass. A Pa­cific heron flies in daily to the dam across the road, dis­turb­ing the lo­cal ibis as it ar­rives. Black cock­a­toos make their usual dig­ni­fied fly-past and the rosel­las, lori­keets and king par­rots fly in to feast on any re­main­ing ap­ples and peaches on the trees in the gar­den — their colours bright­en­ing up a dull day.

Then, one morn­ing, over break­fast in bed, a stag walks across my view, slowly strid­ing through the golden grass, head held high and the early morn­ing sun turn­ing his antlers sil­ver. He dis­ap­pears from view but the glory of him re­mains. I for­get what the com­ing day will bring — ex­er­cises, bed rest, dis­com­fort, pain killers and ice packs. The sur­prise and won­der re­mains with me, and for a brief mo­ment all is well with my small, re­stricted world.

wel­comes sub­mis­sions to This Life. To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, the work must be orig­i­nal and be­tween 450 and 500 words. Sub­mis­sions may be edited for clar­ity. Send emails to Yel­lowknife is the cap­i­tal of which Cana­dian prov­ince or ter­ri­tory? The six al­kali met­als are lithium, cae­sium, ru­bid­ium, sodium, fran­cium and what? Which coun­try won the 2014 FIFA World Cup tour­na­ment? Who stars as the adult ver­sion of “the boss” in the re­cent movie of the same name? In 2010, Laura Chin­chilla be­came the first fe­male pres­i­dent of which coun­try?

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