Something is stealing my water.
It’s actually the chooks’ water, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t an important matter, one of life and death. They have a ten-day waterer, but in the last two weeks it’s been depleted every day, and the hens aren’t impressed, not at all. Could it be that with this unseasonally warm winter and spring they are thirstier than usual? But even at the height of summer they don’t drink this much.
Could the sparrows be the ones who are drinking it, the sparrows who are determined to drive me crazy with their pesky ways?
It just might be that there’s something else in my little garden.
Every morning I wake to find the mulch disturbed, some of it flicked over the paving and stepping stones. I always broom it back to where I want it – that is, after all, the whole point of having a garden – but the next morning there they are again, the scatterings of mulch. Something is digging, and it might also be drinking.
Recently, if I’m up early enough and look out into the hopeful dawn, I sometimes see a darting shape, almost as if it’s been flung across the yard by sling-shot. Yesterday morning, I waited for the light to come and got a better look: it’s small, and black, with a bright red beak. It’s a blackbird.
They say blackbirds came to Australia in the 1850s via Melbourne, and since then have formed colonies up the east coast, particularly in the lush, basaltic gardens of the Blue Mountains. But also, quite evidently, in my Goulburn yard (now that Cat the Ripper is nothing more than an ache in my stomach that won’t go away).
Is it the blackbird that’s stealing the water? It’s possible that it is.
Unless I also have a snake. But let’s not go there.
Sometimes I’ve seen a large brown hawk sitting on the ridge of the old shed that is my garage. The hawk could be after the sparrows, or the chooks, or even my blackbird. What a little world is in my garden. There are days when I wish that I could sort myself out, forget about this whole writing madness, and just let plants and birds be all I need, let this small patch of life sustain me, in essence be my water – so I could live out my days simply sipping.
(First published in Panorama, The Canberra Times, 16 November 2013.)