Lismore. Saturday, 4.50pm.
Two lorikeets fly out of the sun, which hovers over the neighbour’s roof, and land in a grevillea near where I’m sitting. Their abrupt arrival startles me (I was thinking about that giant crack in the antarctic ice shelf) and attracts the attention of a magpie which is cruising the yard.
The magpie stops and looks at the lorikeets. The lorikeets look at me. And at the magpie. I look at the lorikeets. And at the magpie. We’re sizing each other up.
Well, we do live in dangerous times. North Korea is going to bomb us. Or is it the Islamic extremists?
But I reckon the lorikeets are no threat – even though they have little respect for borders. I relax and sip my beer. In my experience, colourful things are not dangerous. Except maybe for cassowaries. And rainbow sangrias.
Embrace the colourful and psychedelic, I say. Beware the grey and dull.
Okay, the magpie is not colourful. But at least you know where you stand with the magpie; it’s black and white. No grey area. (At certain times of the year, you just stay away from it. Or wear a helmet.) There has to be some give and take if we’re all to share this yard.
The lorikeet pair hops down separate branches bringing them closer to the flowers. Dinner. With the autumnal sunset splatting behind the bush, this is tucker sauced with liquid gold and served on a silver platter. The lorikeets lick their red chops and hoe in.
The magpie resumes its wandering.
A smell wafts from the kitchen where my host is adding some organic shiraz to the sauce of a slow-cooked lamb. Delicious smell. It’s like MKR here, with the sound down.
I sip my beer. And lick my chops. The bird’s arrival scared me. I was tense. These are scary times. I’ve been worried about stuff. But it’s pleasant here and now, on a Lismore deck, communing with the lorikeets and the magpie.
Lorikeets may not be able to post selfies to Lorichat, change the climate, bomb babies or elect a toilet brush to presidency but they are able to live with others. That’s a neat trick.
The magpie makes a flying jump at an insect it spies in the grass under the orange tree. Dinner. I sip beer and lean back into my chair. Yes, it seems nice here in Lismore.
But I’m not fooled. These are dangerous and difficult times. Sure, the evidence around me may contradict that – the lorikeets have their flower, the magpie its insect, and I my beer – but the real world isn’t the real world anymore.
In the new real world, which streams to me from a plethora of screens, the North Koreans or the Russians or the Americans or the Nimbinians are threatening my decent lifestyle. A great drought is coming (or a flood). House prices are dropping (or rising). That melting ice shelf will drown Byron. A million species are going extinct every second. A virus will kill all life – and Microsoft. Fifteen football fields are destroyed every minute. Humans are 75 per cent plastic. And 50 per cent radioactive.
Or something like that. Yes, in the real world, these are dangerous times.
One of the lorikeets hops closer to me, to enjoy a nearer flower. Its partner joins it. They eat and chat about the subtle honey aftertaste of those particular stamen. I take another sip of Peroni.
If Byron drowns I’d have to go to Ballina.
The birds seem pretty relaxed – one might even say happy – despite the impending doom.
The sun spreads over the neighbour’s roof like melting ghee.
Must be nice to not have the internet.