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25 October 2013

Into town first thing today, in search of the freedom to be found through a working Internet connection.  Click, read, tweet, share, discuss and create.

Back home to son no.1, sometimes also known as “languid youth”.  He’s had a day off school, nursing a “sore foot” (with the ulterior motive of working on his musical masterpiece in GarageBand).

A hurried lunch, then more work on an event I’m planning, using my neighbour’s (very slow) computer.  Oops, the computer was so slow, and it’s now a bit late…

The dominoes start to fall.  Call school: “The kids can start walking towards town”.

“Mum!!! Do you know what TIME it is?!”

Back in the car, with no.1.  Stop just past school, for two small hitch-hikers (sons no. 2 and 3).  Someone finds a (single) chocolate bar.  Fights ensue.  The bar goes to no. 2, who will be turning head over heels for one and a half hours soon (and who has been the least rude).

Gymnastics, McFlurries (shhh….), music lesson, and finally to the pool with no. 3, my smallest “baby”, who’s now getting a bit heavy for throwing into the water.  Showers, gym pick-up, then no.s 2 and 3 take charge of the DVD selection.  I launch myself into the nearby supermarket aisles, and commune with the electronic checkout chick at top speed.

Gather no.s 2 and 3.  Meet no. 1 at designated place, a little flustered, one hour later than he expected.  No.s 1 and 2 go on dinner-buying duty.

Finally on the home stretch now.  The last half hour drive for the day.  Aromas from the Thai takeaway waft through the car and I speed up.  Asphalt turns to loose stones near home.  A small furry shape zigzags across the road.  Bump.  Almost imperceptible, in this land of painted potholes and post log-truck corrugations.

But still.  Stop, reverse.  A tiny body lies in the headlights.

“Mum!  It’s still alive!”

The back legs are splayed flat on the road, blood pooling.  The front legs, and head (with long pointed nose and shiny eyes) lie sideways.  We watch for breathing.  Nothing.

But there – movement!  And again.

“Call the ambulance mum”.  “Mum, we have to kill it, it’s still alive…”
“How?” 
“Drive over it again?”

Tip the wet swimmers out of the old towel in the boot.  Fold towel over, and again, and cradle the finely chiseled silky body, which still moves every now and then.  Turn over the body.

Oh no.  A baby.  Tiny hairless versions of the same paws and long nose move in the pouch. 

“Keep the baby in the mum, wrapped up for warmth”, says the WIRES* angel on the end of the phone.  “We will call you”.

No. 1 cradles the bundle.  On we go, driving with extreme care.  Hallelujah, we reach home.  Kids, takeaway and DVDs out of the car, dogs patted, chook shed checked for snakes and locked up.

The phone rings.  “Do you know …. Road?  Go past the dam and to the end, turn left, turn on to the dirt, turn right, turn left, and we are at the end.”  (And around and around and around.)  I know that road.

The baby still moves.

In the car again.  “Back as soon as I can, kids!” 

The road winds through endless trees in the dark, still night.  Glimpses of moon and stars wink through.  How fast can I drive, without hitting another animal?

Finally, the dirt road.  As it winds upwards there is a koala sign, and the trees grow.  The car is dwarfed.  A WIRES for Wildlife sign.  Welcoming lights shine out from the curtain-free windows.  Dark shapes of trees close in all around.

“There’s someone at the door, love.”

“Here it is.”
“Is it still alive?”

 “Let’s see.”

The carer takes the dirty purple bundle and places it on her neat sideboard.  She pulls out a dead baby.  And another.  “They can have lots in there”.  And then, the third.

“It’s alive!  I wonder how the mum died?”, say the carer’s visitors, just arrived from the city. 

“My car hit it”.  I feel a stab of guilt.

Bald and wriggling, the baby is a tiny replica of its mum.  “They’re all boys,” the carer says.  She pops no. 3 into a tiny pillowcase.  “I’ll feed him tonight.  Tomorrow he’ll go to another carer who’s looking after two other baby bandicoots.” 

“This is a long nosed bandicoot, a threatened species.”  Please live, little one.

The carer says, “Could you please give these back to nature? Do you have a field near where you found them?  The eagles are breeding too, now…”

I take the damp bundle and drive slowly home.

Long-nosed Bandicoot

* Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service


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