Farewell home, it’s time to head home

For the past 5 months I’ve been in a self-imposed exile in a cabin near the beach in Australia. These are my stories.

I met many new creatures during my time in the cabin; here is a brief profile of my new friends.

The Ducks
Very popular amongst the human population of Rosebud. Ducks lack grace, quack and waddle, but they are not pretentious, ‘We’ll mix with anyone, as long as they don’t try to eat us’. They clumsily waddle through the caravan park requesting handouts, often heard quacking and talking amongst themselves as they explore the hot spots. While their discussions are usually jovial and good-natured, they are also prone to rabid infighting and sectarianism, often seen jabbing at each other with their beaks. However, the ducks are largely placid towards the humans (despite the extremism of those who eat them) due to the 1998 Rosebud Peace Agreement, decreeing that no ducks on the Peninsula be eaten for dinner.

Obnoxious. They are often drunk and have been known to harass locals by perching on the windowsill and shouting, ‘Give us some of your dinner ya c***!’.
‘Fuck you ya black and white bastard, learn some manners, like the ducks!’
‘No fuck you. When you come out of the cabin I’m ganna swoop ya!’.
‘Oh yeah, well I have a cricket bat!’.
They are known to congregate in gangs and are prone to violence. Police don’t know how to control them such is their complete lack of fear. Much like the cat, they have a superiority complex and will push the limits of the human-animal dynamic as far as possible. They create a hostile atmosphere.

Purple Swamp-hen
Menacing in appearance, though this is largely a deception. In reality they are quite warm and friendly, if a little paranoid and highly strung. They snoop around the caravan park searching for food, always checking to see if the coast is clear. The Swamp-hen will be very startled by your presence if you don’t announce your approach.

Black Swans
Superficial. Vain. Narcissistic. Black Swans do yoga and pose for photos at the beach during sunset. They are supermodels. The ducks are in love with them but are too short and fat to ever stand a chance. Sometimes the ducks show off by flying above the Black Swans, ‘Look, we can fly!’. However, the swans ignore, too busy looking at their own reflection in the water.

The glitterati of the local animal population. They are a world-renowned national icon with a great sense of humour. They rarely mix with humans, instead opting to mock them from the trees above, ‘Look at that one, he’s a midget! LOL! Ok, I’m off for a photo shoot, see yaz at dusk’. They are elite birds who live off royalties and will not hesitate in reminding you as such, ‘I’m an Australian icon, bit of respect, please!’. They gather at dusk to laugh over a few drinks. It’s usually an A-list event and the laughter is sometimes excessive, often audible from many kilometers away. They adhere to no noise restrictions though locals don’t seem to mind, ‘The kookies are out tonight, must be pay day from royalties’. The Purple Swamp-hen think they’re laughing at them, one of the many reasons why they’re so paranoid. The ducks offer them counseling in learning to accept their appearance.

You thought the Magpies were obnoxious? Try a crow. Wow. These guys are hardcore. They scavenge. They torment. They yell and scream with a harrowing sound that sounds like an old man being slaughtered. They have been known to make children cry. At dusk all the crows in Rosebud descend onto the local plaza. They sit atop the power lines, loitering and yelling at passers by. The atmosphere is hostile.
‘Holy shit. Something’s going down tonight, I can feel it. Look up, they’re everywhere. What’s going on?!’.
‘I’m not sure, but those crows are fired up about something. I’m scared’.
‘They’re taunting us. Shit, now there’s a whole gang approaching from the beach’.
‘Mummy I’m scared, what’s happening?’.
‘I don’t know, just get in the car’.
‘But the birds are yelling at me’.
‘For God’s sake get in the car!!’.
The car skids away, chased by an unruly gang of crows.

My cabin had a few ants. My Mum would try and kill ants during her daily visits. ‘Hey, wtf! How dare you!’. The ants and I had an agreement: they were granted asylum and/or a protection visa, the only condition being that they did not remain in the same location for extended periods and refrained from congregating in large groups.
‘Mum, you have just cast this policy into disarray!’
‘You’re going insane in this cabin, Adrian’.
‘Aaaahh, I’ve always been insane. I’ve just never been around long enough for you to notice’.
Check. Mate.

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The Albatross

At dawn, the Albatross likes to stake out a position on the pier and stand defiantly against the wind, feeling it rush through her. For hours on end they would stand staring into the wind, looking very content with life. No matter how cold, or how windy, this was their favourite part of the day. This was their favourite part of the world.

Albatross are a bit like the Magpie; they don’t really believe in altering their position for a human. They will either remain where they are (eyeballing you as you pass), or they’ll say, ‘Nup, you got too close’, and reluctantly fly to another position.

My morning walk would often cause great disruption to the many Albatross’ meditating on their pier. I could feel the resentment. As I entered the pier, I’d see them ahead, all with their backs to me staring into the wind. As I inched closer, I’d notice their heads start to tilt ever so slightly towards me, as if to say, ‘What’s this guy up to? Is he coming out to the pier? No-one comes out here when it’s like this!’. They’d go back to meditating, assuming I’d eventually turn back. Then their heads would tilt again, as if to suggest, ‘Sigh. He’s coming all the way. Ok guys, better move ahead, he’s coming’. Collective sigh. Onwards they would move to the next set of poles.

I heard a rumour that the land birds thought the sea birds were weird. I once heard a chick being berated by his mother for flying down to the sea at dawn during a storm.
‘What are you doing hanging around with those birds?! They sit there in that wind all day, in that cold, it’s weird! You should be nestled into your nest during inclement weather!’.
‘It’s not weird, just different! You don’t understand. They are connected to the sea and the elements in a way you’ll never understand. You’re just a tree bird’.
‘It’s a cult. All they do is squawk, they can’t even sing. What sort of bird doesn’t sing?! You will not be hanging out at the pier with the seabirds anymore. They’re queer. End of discussion!’.
‘You’re not a bird, you’re a dinosaur!’.
‘Very well, find your own worms then. And wait till a crow gets his eye on you. It’s a jungle out there; I’m just trying to prepare you for life when I’m not around. Our entire purpose in life is preservation of the species. You’ll understand one day’.

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I Went To Copenhagen

I recently ventured to the Danish capital. There are Great Danes everywhere. And I mean everywhere. More Great Danes than humans. And you can ask them questions for directions, because they’re generally quite accommodating. Just don’t try and pat them though. Upon seeing my first Great Dane (waiting in a queue at the airport) I excitedly ran over and tried to pat its head, and say ‘Hurrow, you’re a good boy’, only to be sternly rebuked, ‘Don’t touch the Great Dane!’, in a very deep, fast bark. Apparently they consider it demeaning. He then proceeded to lecture me (in a Queens English accent), about the class system in Denmark. Not only are dogs considered more prestigious than cats, they’re also in a higher caste than humans. I then profusely apologised, bowing my head a number of times before kissing his paw. He raised his head and graciously accepted. ‘Very well, you weren’t to know. Now carry on’. ‘Oh thank you Great Dane, thank you’.

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