On the paved area outside the Van I put my folding chair and the little lemon tree I’ve brought with me. On Dad’s birthday, days before I left their house forever, a professional gardener helped me take six grafts from Dad’s lemon tree and from the smaller lime tree Dad had himself grafted years ago, onto a lemon tree root stock. Four of them survived. I think Dad would be pleased that I have a next generation lemon and lime tree, but he’d think I was mad to take it in the Van.
Hanging in the old lemon tree at Mum and Dad’s was a bird feeding tray that we used for years to gain the trust of a couple of lorikeets. They became so tame we could stand quite near the dish while they ate. One of them would also eat from my flattened palm, one claw on a branch, one on my finger. Sometimes they walked up and down on the exterior kitchen windowsill or sat on the door handle. They were so comical. I loved them. Apparently they mate for life. We called them the ‘Buddies’.
One morning in the January after Mum died I heard a crash. I rushed out of my room and looked down over the balcony. A Buddy was lying on the paving outside the kitchen.
‘Oh no no no’, I raced down and threw open the door. The little bird was lying motionless on its back.
Gasping, I bent down for a closer look. Not one of the Buddies….
I rang my brother and as soon as he answered I blurted,
‘Uh uh…it’s a Buddy…there’s something wrong…’ I can barely speak. My throat has seized up.
‘The dunny? There’s something wrong with the dunny?’
‘A Buddy!’ I squeak.
‘One of the Buddies! He’s lying on the ground! He’s not moving.’ I’m frantic.
‘Ok, ok. I see. He’s just lying there is he?’
‘Yesssss….Just not moving… what if he’s de….’
‘Ok, look. He might just be stunned. They hit the glass hard, but then they suddenly recover. They can be pretty resilient’.
‘Oh’, I gulp, ‘What should I do?’
‘He’ll probably just jump up and fly off in a moment’.
‘Ok’. I calm down a little. We finish the call.
I get a towel and approach the bird, picking up the still little body in the towel and laying him near the door. I look at him for a while then go back inside.
Suddenly I see a movement out of the corner of my eye. The little bird has leapt out of the towel and is staggering like a drunk across the paving. He gives himself a shake, straightens up and suddenly takes off. I burst into tears. Relief washes over me.
Something hasn’t died.