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Inga and the bird

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First some essential definitions for the benefit of my new reader;
Inga is my adult daughter who lives and works as far away from me as she possibly can without having to leave continental Australia.

Birds are 2 -legged animals which fly in the sky. They all have feathers unless one happens to be a plucked chicken equipped with a GOF Mk1, 3-stage experimental rocket strapped to it’s undercarriage.
Oops……newcomer’s gone already.
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Next thing;  I now need to waste some of your time with history;

I have occasionally written about the ‘sense of place’ and connection with the land that Mrs GOF and I feel after having lived for 30 years on this soggy and secluded place which has nurtured us, provided food and water, and protected us from harm.
White-fellas in Australia have a difficult time coming to terms with the spiritual depth of connection to ‘country’ that aboriginal people feel, but I think I am beginning to understand.

I’m guessing Inga feels something similar even though she will have her own unique perspective.  She was only an infant when we arrived here and to this day she remains the only child who was raised to adulthood in this neck of the woods.  Today there are three children in the neighbourhood, but in Inga’s day there was only herself.  She grew up with Merial her pet cow, played in the mud and wandered around our 46 acres making her own entertainment. Inga’s formative years were spent being an integral part of this very special natural environment.

Something attracts her back here for holidays every year and I’d venture to suggest that there is a force at play which is greater than simply the close relationship she has with her parents.
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And finally; The main event;

parrot feeding time

Every morning either Mrs GOF or I distribute a cupfull of bird seed on the garden path as supplementary feed for the wild birds living in the rainforest.  We’ve been doing this for at least twenty years.  Depending on the season, between 50 and 100 individuals arrive. King parrots, emerald doves and assorted finches. Whenever we try to approach them, they all flock-off up into nearby trees until we’ve disappeared from view, then they fly back down again to resume eating.  We’ve made several attempts in the past to ‘tame’ some of them and failed, so they will forever remain wild birds.

Last Christmas Inga came home for two weeks. Apparently this must have been a very tiring experience because most mornings she got out of bed well after the birds had eaten their breakfast and disappeared back into the rainforest.

On the final morning she was up early making preparations to travel back home to Melbourne.  As soon as she went out onto the verandah with a small handful of seed a lone King parrot came out of the blue and landed on the roof above her head. It peered over the guttering at her before fluttering down and landing on her arm.  Then it ate all the food from her hand before taking off again into the bush.

There is only one acceptable explanation. 

Inga was offering a token departing gift to Mother Nature in appreciation of the connection she has with this ‘country‘ and the bird was accepting it on behalf of all the spirits of our land and thanking her for returning.

Until such time as science can provide me with a more sublime conclusion, I’m going to cherish this one.

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A flabbergasted Mrs GOF hurriedly found a camera to record the moment.

Ingabird 1


Hubert the hawk, then ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

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King parrots

Rainbow lorikeets


When I look out the window into the garden and see all the wild birds feeding, it occurs to me that all the humans who spend most of their daily lives worrying about the performance of the FTSE and Dow Jones Indices are missing out on something vastly more important in life.

When Hubert the hawk, circling at 500 feet, looks down into my garden and sees all the wild birds feeding, it occurs to him that here is a banquet, a smorgasbord, fit for a bird of his dominance and distinction, and whilst dive-bombing at 100 kilometres per hour towards them he thinks to himself  “Hubert baby, this is going to be my lukky day.”

Yesterday, unfortunately for Hubert, he made two slight errors of judgment.  (Plus one of spelling.)

Firstly,the birds saw him coming and took evasive action.

Secondly, Hubert, (having failed miserably in his physics exams at the Avian Academy)  in pulling out of his dive failed to understand that the reflection of clear sky in a glass window was fraught with impediments to high-velocity flight.

Something had to give way.

It was not the window.

Hubert was not a well hawk for at least an hour, but after Dr GOF pulled Hubert’s head back out from way down somewhere near his  gizzard, then gave him two panadeines, a healing blessing, a pat on the head and a sip of altar wine from his apostolic goblet, Hubert wobbled his way back up into a nearby tree to contemplate what might have caused things to go so pear-shaped on what was going to be his ‘lukky day’.

Semi-comatose Hubert

healed Hubert giving thanks

(all photographs by Mrs GOF)

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Plus there’s more;

Today I am handing out gifts.

One gift to Gominoklahoma  and another one just for you.

GOM has now been a blog friend of mine for almost 4 years. There is no finer Drabble (story told in precisely 100 words) composer or witty commenter in my blog world. It is time for me to reward him with a special cultural gift of song from Australia, and one for you too in recognition of the time you waste  spend keeping me company in The Bucket.

Waltzing Matilda’ is Australia’s unofficial National Anthem.

‘Banjo Patterson’ (1864-1941), the principal folk poet of Australia  composed the lyrics in 1895 at Dagworth Station near Winton in Queensland’s outback.
Patterson’s image appears on our $10 polymer bank note.

The first of the following gifts is for GOM who has suffered with great dignity and tolerance through so many of my references to this ‘singer’ over the years.

The second is for you.  (Please share it with GOM too because he deserves better than what I just gave him.)  Noel Watson has been called a  “Genuine Aussie bloke with a voice that’ll pin your ears back.”
Plucked from obscurity, he rendered this extraordinary live performance  sung from his heart at the Aussie Rules Football Grand Final in 1988, and it still gives me goosebumps 24 years later.

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Wildlife in the garden

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These are all Mrs GOF’s photographs.

Over the course of a year we have around 40 species of birds which visit our garden, many of which feed on the grain and fruit that we provide for them in limited quantity.

This year several other unusual and normally shy birds and animals have arrived because Cyclone Yasi caused their natural food supply to be interrupted.

For the first time in 30 years we have Rifle Birds, and also the marsupial Musky Rat Kangaroos which bunny-hop around the lawn every morning and afternoon.
They are the smallest of all Australia’s kangaroos and normally live on the floor of the tropical rainforest where their diet comprises fruit and invertebrates.

Dragonfly or some other sort of bubbidge

Male Rifle Bird

Female Rifle Bird

Musky Rat Kangaroo

Cassowary in the neighbour's garden

I hope you dance

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I Hope You Dance

(by Lee Ann Womack)

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.
You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger.
May you never take one single breath for granted.
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,

I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance.
Never settle for the path of least resistance.
Living might mean taking chances, but they're worth taking.
Loving might be a mistake but it's worth making.

Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter.
When you come close to selling out, reconsider.
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance.



And, if Ms Womack does not mind I'll also post pictures of,

Some Birds for Breakfast

(In the "as company" sense as opposed to "on the menu").

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Turkey stew

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(I swear everything in this story is the truth)

All of Australias native birds are protected species, possibly even budgerigars, but as they are too puny and cute to be of much culinary or gastronomic use I will exclude them from this discussion.

This bird is definitely protected.  A common scavenger for food on the rainforest floor, it is extremely ungainly and noisy in flight and has difficulty gaining altitude.

Many years ago, before World Heritage listing of the Wooroonooran National Park, our family of three, me and Mrs GOF with little Globet strapped to her front in a Mei Tai sling, would take our aged Ferguson tractor of French manufacture down some old and disused logging tracks to cut firewood to burn in our Carmichael slow combustion stove.

The tractor had a vertical exhaust pipe sticking up in front of the driver.

One day, a scrub turkey in astonished flapping confusion propelled itself out of the undergrowth, flew into the exhaust pipe, and dropped to the ground dead. Stone motherless. Expired. Deceased. Bereft of life.

( For the benefit of any grammatical pedants or linguistic purists, I wish to point out that in the previous paragraph my use of the words "flew into" refer to the collision which occurred when the exhaust pipe exterior provided an impenetrable object in the flight path of the bird.
I was not intending to suggest that the turkey "flew into" the aperture or orifice of the pipe, a highly improbable scenario indeed given that the diameter of the turkey was significantly larger than the internal diameter of the exhaust pipe.  Also, remembering that the pipe was vertical, any possibility of this novel act occurring would have required "plummeting" rather than "flying". 
Clearly an action not indicated or insinuated in the original text.
Good, I am glad we have cleared that up.
Now, as you may well have lost the plot by now, please continue, with GOF contemplating what to do with a dead turkey on the ground next to his tractor.)

Not being greatly endowed with cash at the time, we interpreted this event as being a sympathetic and charitable food drop from God, which clearly out-trumped any currently enforceable fauna conservation statutes put in place by Man.

The turkey was accordingly prepared as the primary ingredient for a delicious stew.
Very much later that evening we just knew we should have followed the original old timers scrub turkey recipe;

"Place the turkey in a large saucepan,
  together with an old leather boot.
  Boil for 10 hours.

  Discard the turkey.

  Eat the boot."

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My bird asks too many questions

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One of my great pleasures comes from the prolific bird life in GOF's Paradise.  The only sound we hear every morning is the chattering of birds.  No humans.  No cars. There are at least 35 species which either live in our garden, or visit regularly from the adjacent rainforest.
Many of them we hand feed, including this one, with a face which perhaps only a mother could love, the Australian friar bird.

Shortly after this photographic session the friar bird and I had the following conversation, before he launched into some sort of incoherent jibberish, and abruptly flew off.

Bird;    Why am I so ugly?
GOF;   You're not ugly, you are unique.
Bird;     Stop patronising me GOF.
GOF;   Well, seeing as God made humans in his own likeness, then
             it is probably fair to say that occasionally He had lapses in
             judgement too.
Bird;     You mean I am a mistake? A flawed heavenly design?
GOF;    More likely you are the product of His frugality.  Late in the
             day, after He had created the swans, and birds-of-paradise,
             He probably had a miscellaneous collection of spare parts on
             His workbench, which He did not want to throw away.
Bird;     So, I am a concoction from Gods rubbish?
GOF;    Well no, you are still one of his unique creations.
Bird;     You're starting to aggravate me GOF.
GOF;    Well I am sorry, but the exact details of Gods work is
              shrouded in mystery.  As no-one was there at the time
              our total understanding of the event consists of fanciful
              human imagination.
Bird;      OK, but how did Noah, on the other side of the planet
              manage to capture 2 of my ancestors from the Antipodes
              to put in the ark?
GOF;     Maybe it was just a very local flood, and Australia was
               spared because God loved his special little Friar bird
               so much.
Bird;       Now you're really pissing me off GOF.  If it was just a local
               flood, why didn't God tell Noah to run like hell up into the
               mountains instead of messing around building an ark?
GOF;      Alright, well maybe it was a worldwide flood and Noah had
               some helpers come to Australia and rescue your ancestors
               because He loved them.
Bird;       C'mon, pull the other one GOF. Where did all the water
               come from for a world wide flood, and where did it go to
GOF;      Go away bird, you ask too many questions and you are
               not respecting my superiority as a human.
Bird;        Hey GOF, can I tell you an old Friar bird legend?
GOF;       Go on, if you have to.  I am a very busy man.
Bird;        Well, a very very long time ago, one line of my ancestors
                had very short frangible beaks, and in a time of
                famine they all starved to death because they could not
                break into whatever fruit was left, but my line of the
                family………Oi! GOF, where ya gone?  GOF?
                Sheesh!,  How will they ever learn.

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Appreciating the little stuff

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At 8 am on Monday 20 March 2006, GOF and Mrs GOF were standing in front of their modest rural cottage, looking at the deep blue sky and appreciating a brief moment of total calm, silence, and serenity.  Only one thing was unusual.  All the birds were strangely quiet.
We were standing in the eye of tropical cyclone Larry, one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall in Australias recorded history.
During the following 2 hours Larry twisted and uprooted any large trees which remained upstanding from the first onslaught of the storm, and flung our little farm outbuildings to all quadrants of the compass.
We thought we understood cyclones, having lived through many during 25 years here.
We did not.
The predicament facing us that morning can only be understood by those who have experienced a direct hit by the most ferocious of tropical cyclones/typhoon/hurricanes.  The realisation that your natural environment has been destroyed by the ferocity of mother nature, and that you could possibly not be around to see the sun come up on another day.
It is only with a large lump in my throat that I am able to recall that day, and remember those less fortunate than us….those whose dreams and homes were totally shattered and obliterated.

Moments like these tend to stop the clock of your life from ticking in its normal automatic unappreciative mode, and cause you to reset it using some different values of measurement.

My immediate appreciation was that, although we lost our little business/livelihood, we were spared, by good fortune of geography, our home.

I have, since that day, chosen on a daily basis to have some quiet time and acknowledge the little blessings I have in this life.
Occasionally I will share some of them with others.

This one is for the birds, who came back into our lives.
We hand feed up to 50 King Parrots at dawn every day.  They are one of 35 different species of birds which regularly visit our garden.
It reminds me that, at least in my little neck of the woods, the world is a very beautiful place indeed.

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