It is 3 pm and I’m seated seaside at my favourite restaurant in Geraldton. I was up at 4.30 am completing reports and then worked all day without stopping. I limped over the line with the promise of an excellent coffee and the thought, it was my last trip before a two week break. My flight is due to leave at 6:10 pm. I have hours to complete more writing, fill the tank with petrol and head to the airport, a short ride outside town.
Over a coffee, I savoured the moment, and the moments before this,
I watched boats tug gently at their moorings, while two returned from a fishing trip. Children shouted, “Dad! Dad!” in shared enjoyment of school holidays with family. The rest of the sentence wafted away with the sea breeze. Their excitement is equivalent to the texts I have received from my children, “Are you home yet?” They, too, want the holidays to begin.
I spent several days in Geraldton. Having visited the Midwest about a dozen times in the last twelve months, I have a few favourite places that I visit, all less than five kms from my hotel. But, the best place of all is my hotel room. On request, the staff give me the same room every trip. It overlooks a flowering avenue. Like me, the birds love the trees too.
I’m becoming a bird watcher (not twitcher). I’m told bird watchers observe behaviour of all birds, not just chase rare ones, as twitchers do. I’ve observed, time is set aside for feeding, playing and grooming. They are too quick in play. Or perhaps, my camera is too slow. So I take lessons from them about nurturing and self-care.
The white cheeked New Holland honey eater seems to be a smaller species here, making their beaks appear larger and more prominent. They alight fearlessly on a delicate bloom, confident it will carry their weight. It is a soft place to land. I yearn for mine.
I know the call of the brown headed honey eater. In Kalgoorlie they wake me at pre-dawn. Delighting in their song, I mentioned this to the hotel receptionist. She laughed and advised me, she once had a guest who, thinking the birdsong was piped through the property, found it an annoyance and asked for it to be switched off!
I found this honey eater right outside my door. This species is tiny and quieter than the ones found in the Goldfields. I watched this little one comfortably seated on buds, bobbing up and down in the afternoon sea breeze. Like the bird, I sat down, camera in hand, and took a moment to reflect on the smaller joys of life.
I have become accustomed to the call of the white plumed honey eater. They are prolific in the Pilbara and I also see them in the Midwest. When excited, their call sounds like maniacal laughter. In the morning it blends in perfectly with sun and foliage and surprises me with its presence.
At dusk I found it grooming, seated exposed on a branch, fluffed up body and yolk yellow head, looking bigger than it did in the morning. I know the feeling. I’ve experienced this after a delicious seafood meal with a colleague!
When the birds leave, I focus on the flowers. They are translucent in morning sun.
The bees love them and stay longer than the birds.
When the bees move on, my eyes linger. And, as if a wish granted, I watch one drop before me, reflecting the colours of a Midwest sunset, all yellow, peach and orange.
It takes me back to that moment of surprise when driving back from an appointment, I see something on the top of a bare tree. I’m learning to take in shapes, even at 80 km an hour! A magnificent sea eagle. Fierce in stare.
I bring myself back to the moment I’m in, gather up my belongings and head out of the restaurant. Home stretch. I see an older policeman, laughing and interacting with children and families, waterfront. His partner, younger by decades, is seated in the patrol car flicking through his phone, a young man of his generation. He glances at me and grins a relaxed, laid back, “G’day!” Community policing at its best, I think.
Later next day I see the headlines in the evening news, the biggest drug bust in Australian history, a day after my visit. Perhaps what I observed at the marina was more than police with community spirit! I am grateful for their seemingly benign presence. We are a safer community because of them.
I’ve returned home with memories of a year that was. More on this later.
a dawn bird