It gets dark at my place. I mean really dark. You might think that it gets pretty dark in your average city, town, or hamlet, but there’s a profound difference in a remote place on a moonless cloudy night. The depth of the darkness is absolute. No stars, no porch lights, no street lights gamely crying out to the sable ink ‘c’mon, if you think yer hard enough!’.
Most evenings, there are exactly two artificial lights visible from my property (Not counting my own). One is a small underpowered streetlight that sort of indicates where my road joins on to the main road. It’s a kilometre away (That’s a little over a thousand yards). The light from it looks like a slightly bright star that has gotten tired from all of the energetic capering about in the sky and has decided that lazing around on the ground sounds good. Seriously, it’s only a little bit brighter that venus or mars (mind you, as I have had a few eye operations, I might not be a leading authority on what something ‘looks’ like). Anyway. It’s not a shining beacon.
The other light is a sort of yard light, porch light thing outside of my neighbour’s house. It’s quite close. It’s only 400 metres or so (About a quarter of a mile). But as it’s a 60 watt globe it’s not exactly lighting the place up, either (Okay, I admit it; I don’t actually know what wattage it is. Sneaking up to one’s neighbour’s place with a ladder to check the wattage of their garden light might lead to a rather awkward conversation, so I haven’t checked).
Anyway. It gets really dark here. I have two cats. Pigeon and Sophie. Being cats, they are of the opinion that the universe (well, the bit around my house) is their empire. They apparently never tire of wandering around catching and torturing the local wildlife. My fervent hope is that the local wildlife stops wandering into my house. There are many, many hectares of tree festooned hillside. I really only frequently wander around a small part of the property. The cats cover even less of it. So if the wildlife stays out there, we’ll stay in our bit and there will be peace and cohabitation for all.
So. Dark. Two cats. Wildlife. At this stage, I could describe the baby Tasmanian devil in my kitchen. But that story didn’t involve the cats. I could talk about having to get out of my truck to move the echidna out of the way so I could head to the shops. But that didn’t involve my cats. Or I could tell you about waking up one morning and finding half a rabbit on my pillow next to my face (Napisan really is good on those pesky rabbit entrail stains. Can you imagine what life would be like without Napisan? I wine and dine a charming lady, bring her back to my place; “Don’t mind the stains on the pillow case, it’s from the digestive tract and reproductive organs of a rabbit that one of my cats partially ate.” Thank GOD for modern cleaning agents. That story does involve the cats, but I don’t like talking about it coz I get this horrible headache and a I start sighing a lot.
Anyway, let’s get back to the story. By the way, there is a point. It will actually all lead to a (sort of) coherent finish. I promise. It’s dark, I’m outside noticing how terribly dark it is. As per usual, there is a furry obstacle trying to ensure that I will trip and fall and shatter my spleen (Yes, I know spleen’s aren’t things that you can shatter, but my cat’s don’t, they’re mental.) As usual, I reach down to pat the furry obstacle, musing to myself that by doing so, I am actually giving them positive feedback in their efforts to shatter my spleen. But it’s not one of my cats. There’s a wheezy kind snort. It’s a possum. He doesn’t scuttle away in terror. He doesn’t claw my arm off. He gives me a wheezy snort. I don’t know if this is possum equivalent of a: ‘Careful mate, I’ll have you if ya try that again!’ For all I know he could have just sneezed. Australian Possums are not the same thing as Opossums. Firstly, Possums are MUCH cuter. Secondly, they tend to have talons that can slice into Australian hardwoods. I elect to withdraw carefully.
But he just wheezed and snorted. Then he wandered off. What’s with that? It got me thinking. He was about the size of my cats. Maybe 7 kilograms (About 15 pounds). So I am about twenty times bigger than he is. I am not sure that if a Black rhinoceros came up and prodded me with his foot that I would simply wheeze and snort. Quite a remarkably brave creature is your average Possum. And your Echidna. And your Pademelon. And your Bandicoots (but only fleetingly, because I have had halves of several of them left behind, too. Sigh). So all of these critters – these Wallabies, Platypuses, marsupial mice and the rest – are wandering around full to the brim with courage even though there are lots of other critters trying to eat them. But when the prod comes, wheeze then snort.
This encounter has taught me two things: Firstly, the critters aren’t going anywhere. They will bravely (albeit at times unfortunately) go about their business where they want and when. Courage truly does come in small packages. Secondly, I really need to change the light globe on my outside light.
The Meandering Matriarch said:
Don’t leave your shoes outside; the devils will eat them. I recommend tall, very sturdy rubber boots. And never, ever pet a cat in the dark.