Call of the Wild

Have you ever laid in bed at night and wondered how the heck I come up with the inspiration for my stories each month? Sure you have, it’s ok, I’ve wondered myself at times.  The truth is, more often than not the nub for a story builds slowly in me, day after day, fermenting away like literary kombucha. But then, typically a day or maybe mere hours before my deadline looms, something so unexpectedly wonderful happens around the place that I know instantly that I have to write about it.  My last-minute-muse crops up so reliably that I’ve pretty much given up on forward planning.

It was no different this month. It all started with the sound of somebody taking a ruddy great piss from on high onto my veranda.  It only gets worse from here, so if you’re reading this while about to tuck into a fancy lunch, maybe don’t.

I was midway through reading an email when the pissing started.  This wasn’t my first rodeo, so it only took moments to realise the truth of what was happening.  I rushed out to the deck, all the while muttering under my breath “no, no, no…not here, not again…” But it was indeed happening here, again.

High above me, entwined in the only passionfruit vine I’ve ever grown that actually bore me fruit, lay ‘Tree Hunter’, an absolutely massive carpet python with a penchant for hunting pademelons while dangling from the citrus trees. And from Tree Hunter’s serpentile arse – yes of course they have arses, what did you all think? – emerged what can best be described as an ex-pademelon.

I grabbed the hose and stood poised like a stoic hazmat crewman at a highway chemical spill, waiting to wash away the filth. I’ve seen some stuff in my years living in the bush, once I even went three years using wild tobacco as toilet paper, but hosing away steaming python crap is something you pretty much never adjust to. 

Long minutes later, Tree Hunter slithered off down to the bird bath for a drink. Evidently serpent-turding is thirsty work. By this stage I’ve wound the hose back up and am reasonably satisfied I’ve got every last bit (I hadn’t).  A Lewin’s Honeyeater, who think they bloody own the place (maybe they do?) came bustling in for a quick slurp and maybe a dip. Something it probably does twenty times a day with hardly a second thought. Except on this particular occasion Tree Hunter was also wetting his whistle.  I shall never forget the look of absolute shock and horror on that Lewin’s face when finally it did notice its scaley drinking buddy. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.  Thanks Tree Hunter.   

Andrew Turbill is a wildlife naturalist, environmental educator & writer