Wednesday, 18 February 2004

Streets Paved with Gold

Crimson RosellaIt's often said about the great and fabled cities of the world that they are "Paved with Gold". Now please bare with me for I'm about to tell you about Canberra. "A Good Sheep-station, Spoilt." as one wag put it.

About a week ago, we had an almighty thunderstorm. Feline and Canine variety, a massive rainfall in a short period (and how we need that rain - we're still on stage 3 water restrictions due to the water supply having been damaged by last year's Firestorm)

In the morning, we found a very bedraggled and exhausted bird in our garden. No obvious damage, just too weak to fly, and utterly soaked and shivering. So I captured it in a cardboard box, and put a towel over the top - any passing Moggie would have considered it a banquet. A quick phone to the RSPCA, and then a trip past the bare plains (still no sign of regrowth after the Bushfires) to the RSPCA animal shelter about 20 km away - which was saved from fire only by heroic actions by the people there. Anyway, they gave the bird (identified as a Crimson Rosella) a quick examination, while waiting for the Vet to come later on for a complete check-up. It appears he had a bruise on one wing, and was missing a major tail-feather, but was otherwise just weak and exhausted.

Yesterday, I got another call - the bird had made a complete recovery, and would I like to release him in the same area he was picked up? So I collected him, and Andrew watched as the little parrot gave an indignant squawk, then a vertical take-off from out of the box, a quick Immelman over the house, then departed for parts unknown at high speed.

And that got me to thinking about living here. We take the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, the various Rosellas, the Grass-Parrots, even the Galahs (pink-breasted Cockatoos) for granted. In Fable, the streets of London are paved with Gold, but in Reality, the skies of Canberra are filled with Cockatoos, Galahs and Multicoloured Parrots far, far more than London has of Pidgeons. And I know which I'd rather have - roads made of some soft yellow metal, or a riotous assembly of shrieking, whistling, squawking and rattling rainbows in the trees.

Even just looking at the monetary value (always a dubious metric of real worth), we must have at least a billion dollars worth just flying around, entertaining us every day. Just the regular visitors to our back yard would be worth more than our house. Which in a way, somehow feels exactly right.

No comments: