I woke at dawn, beset by bird life: galahs, cockatoos, King parrots, rainbow lorikeets, magpies and currawongs all yelling their fool heads off just outside my window.

I’m staying with Jane. She and Darcy and the twins live in one of the lovely old Federation brick houses on the hill above the river. Her spare room is vast, with a high ceiling and a glowing wooden floor and nothing in it but a shelf and a bed, and it opens onto an east-facing verandah. It is so exactly the quiet refuge that I need that when I saw it I was struck dumb. No idea how I can ever thank Jane and her family.

Quiet, that is, except at dawn, with the birds.

I sat on the verandah and glared at the birds and called Jeremy as the sun rose. When Darcy and Jane came out for coffee their dog Chicken came too. She’s a Scottish staghound but she looks a little like the Anatolian shepherds I saw in Turkey and a little like a wolf. She’s bigger than I am. I cleared off the sofa I was sitting on and Chicken kissed me and put her arms around me and her hairy cheek against my face.

“She was bred as a pig dog,” Jane explained. “She could track the pigs and hold the pigs at bay, but she just didn’t want to kill them. They even gave her some piglets -”

“To tear apart?”

“Yeah that was the idea, but she played with them instead. When I heard that, I knew she was the dog for me.”

How do people get through this without animals? Sarah picked me up and I went to Henry Street to snuggle with the creatures there: four dogs (Jake, Peppa, Jess and Toby) and three cats (Oskie, Missy, Tiz). I always thought it would be me with the menagerie.

When we got to the hospital Mum demanded mahjongg. Big had forgotten the rules but not so much that he didn’t win the third game, after Sarah won the first and Mum won the second.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.