A few days ago, feeling a little glum, no reason, it was just one of those glums that settles like a dry, overcast day, except this was a beautiful late spring day, a hint of the summer that’s just around the corner, so go figure, I headed off on my weekly drive south to Canberra. I love the drive because I take the back road rather than the freeway, so it’s a narrow meander through cattle and canola paddocks, sometimes bush, wind turbines on the ranges, passing through three villages, one of which has no shop, just a tearoom-slash-museum that’s never open. I love the drive because there’s no email, no social media, the mobile can ring but it rarely does. It’s just me and my music, the Old Lady of The House on the back seat like Miss Daisy.
But back to the start, the glummy start.
At the edge of town, nearing the freeway overpass, I saw ahead a big mother of a motorbike parked on the side of the road. It was black, terribly shiny black, and it looked like the devil’s wheels. Standing beside the big mother of a motorbike was the rider, also black – black helmet, black riding leathers, black gloves, black boots. Clearly this wasn’t a policeman, but still he put out his hand to stop me. Oh Christ, surely I wasn’t about to be robbed. I slowed down, but part of me, the bigger part, wanted to speed off and get the hell away.
The motorbike man, looking to all the world like Mad Max, walked into the middle of the road but got down to a crouch. I looked to see what on earth was going on. There, on the solid yellow line, was an echidna, yes, one of those delightfully spiky little guys, the ones that like to waddle as they walk through the bush looking for ants and termites. Thankfully they’re not uncommon, but they are shy, and they certainly don’t like to get this close to town.
I put on my hazard lights and watched.
Mad Max tried to pick up the echidna – he had the black leather gloves, you see – but the echidna wasn’t too happy about that: the little guy struggled as if its end was nigh. So Mad Max put the animal back down onto the bitumen and proceeded to marshal it off the road. Slowly, carefully, gently, he got the echidna onto the grassy verge until it disappeared to safety. Mad Max turned to me and gave me the thumbs up – literally – and I waved at him and he waved at me. I put the car into first, turned up the music, wound down the window, and headed off on my way south, the narrow meander through cattle and canola paddocks, sometimes bush, wind turbines on the ranges, passing through three villages, one of which has no shop, just a tearoom-slash-museum that’s never open.
And I knew that I was now 100% glum-free.