No sooner have I booted up my computer and sat down to write this blog, I can hear a loud croaking sound coming from the dining room fireplace. What the hell is that?, I think to myself and I get up and pad down the hallway to investigate the sound. It grows louder as I approach and seems to be coming from somewhere to the left of the hearth but I am not sure and so rather than find myself having to confront some large slimy reptile, I turn back and try to ignore the racket it is making. Maybe if I just pretend and hope it is actually outside the fireplace wall, I can relax.
Call me bloody Lisa Douglas. It is not far off. And right now, my Oliver (who is actually more like Mick Dundee) is not home to rescue me from what is surely a killer frog with a croak that loud. Is there a such thing?, I actually wonder to myself. I suppose if it were to ambush me in the hallway by jumping near me it could be considered a death threat as I would surely have a heart attack if any bit of it's slimy body scathed past my skin. It has quieted down now for which I am grateful.
I am living in Green Acres. No joke. Spiders as big as my palm, geckos surprising me when I least expect it, the moan of cows in the paddock, cane toads as big as small rats, skinks (there is a new one for ya) that are apparently snake food which means snakes are surely hovering in the grass and I am on constant alert for any slithering around me as I walk across the lawn. I have not come face to fork-tongued face with one yet, but I am ready.
Just a few short months ago, the closest I ever came to a snake was in the handbag department at Holt Renfrew and the hardest part about that was swallowing the price tags. My, my, how life has changed. I have since learned that if I do get bitten by a snake, I am to apply pressure to the wound, then wrap above and below it with a tensor bandage or some facsimile. If I am faced with an angry farm dog, I am supposed to face it, not run from it, and if I ever encounter a wild boar or pig, I am to climb a tree...they are not very good climbers apparently.
Now, armed with all this new found knowledge, I feel prepared for anything. Yeah, right! I have however braved whacking and killing a March fly with my bare hand...better than being bitten I concluded and I now acknowledge that gecko poops are something that commonly appear on the kitchen windowsill in the morning and sometimes even in your clean dishes in the cupboard, so I never use any plate or bowl without examining it first and giving it a cursory wipe just in case.
Country living is new to me. And country living in the semi-tropics is even newer. The other day as I stood at the kitchen sink, a large goanna slowly made his way across the drive along the Bromeliad garden log edging. Just a few minutes ago, as I poured myself a glass of ice cold green tea, a spectacular Australian King Parrot did a low fly by past the kitchen window and across the front yard, a blaze of red and green so vivid against the overcast sky and drought burnished lawn, it took my breath away. It is as though there is a price to pay for the moments of awe.
Like yesterday when the mercury rose to 38 degrees and I wondered if I could stand it any longer. But, a drive to the ocean and a frolic in the waves at Rainbow Beach for some relief created a similar contrast. A cold seaside outdoor shower awaited as we scurried across the hot sand and again found something pleasurable to extinguish the heat and wash away the drying coating of salt on our skin.
This is Australia. A land of harsh contrasts. Not unlike my own personal contrasts. City gal to country gal. Holt Renfrew to Big W. (don't ask!) Dry cleaners to clotheslines. High heels to wellies. CBC to ABC...not all that different!
There is one difference between me and Lisa Douglas though. I don't really long for Park Avenue, or Bloor Street or Rodeo Drive or The Magnificent Mile or any of those streets any more.
You don't need designer clothes or shoes or handbags here.
Just balls. And I am working on growing a set of those.
Got one of these Kangaroo Scrotum pouches for Christmas!
Try finding one of these beauties at Holts!