The Deua ran east through cool deep pools of forest green water, meandering through the Jurassic woods. Slender eucalyptus trees swayed in the breeze far above as prehistoric lizards, the Deua Water Dragons, splashed into the slow current, quickly crawling inland away from my baby-blue boat. They waddled away hoping not to be seen, hips and shoulders moving rhythmically at opposites as they dragged long scaly tails behind. I glided by on a sit on top kayak, two childlike oars duck-taped together to make a paddle, compliments of Tom. He was far behind on his own craft, two body boards tied together, barely supporting his weight as he kicked and hand paddled down the crystalline pools. He had wanted to do 20kms of this river down to his folks’ farm, but I insisted it was too much, and we settled on 10. His spritely mother (our shuttle driver), tall and straight-backed, active and youthful, bounded mother-doe like down the steep and brambly bank of our put-in to wave us off and watch as we rounded the corner of the first river bend, down the tiny rapids that made me shriek and cry out in fear and joy. My legs dangled in the cool slow pool, toes curling around the water that leaves the skin feeling silky and smooth. I laid back on Baby Blue, the craft that had washed up water-logged onto the farm shore months prior. Just down river, a big troop of kangaroos bounced through the shallow water. Tom stood on a beach pulling two little black leeches off his foot, bright blood streaming down and visible even from my far off vantage point. Earlier in the week I felt a cold goo ooze up my ankle, and looking down shrieked loudly even as I flicked the black leech off before it could get its hooks in. Gross.
In the little cottage we’ve made home, up a long and winding dirt road, my days are spent mostly in the company of four happy hens, Fat Mama, Little Bird, Six and Big Red Bird. And occasionally a new Upstairs Neighbor. And that lovely golden lizard I found bathing in the sunshine of our kitchen window, who I’ve now shooed out three times. And Tom’s mother’s new kittens. And the teeny furry antichinus that looks like a mouse, acts like a mouse, poos on the counter like a mouse, has whiskers like a mouse, but isn’t, in fact, a mouse.
As my menagerie grows (a long-term dream of mine), I fight the temptation to get a floppy-eared bunny, a little piglet, a rooster, and maybe a puppy. And a horse and goat. I also spent a quarter of an hour fantasizing about having a pet tiger, who, in my lazy musings, would be really friendly. In my ideal world, I’m either motorcycling through exotic places, or surrounded by animals on a homestead, gardening and holding fluffy animal babies.
Chicken watching, reading all day and cooking on the ancient wood burning stove, one can’t complain too much. Life here is idyllic, even with a few little parasites milling around the shadows. There’s nothing like reading until the candle burns out, sleeping in late, making pancakes every morning, and tinkling in the grass in the middle of the night with the heavenly stars burning brightly above, billions of twinkling flames lighting everything up from horizon to horizon, the Milky Way flashing across the dark open skies.