Post your answer in the comments. Only the precisely correct answer wins. The Winner, if there is one, will be announced as soon as the correct answer is posted. Otherwise I’ll let the cat out of the bag in three days or so.
The prize is one of my original works of Art, valued (by me) at a Huge Amount. The Undisclosed Sum we hear so much about. (Terms and Conditions apply*)
Here they are again, from another angle.
*but I’m not telling you what the terms and conditions are.
Just the other day I was discussing this subject with my neighbour. He was horrified and concerned that I put food out for the birds. Never white bread, only small amounts of whole grain bread, mostly vegetable scraps such as lettuce leaves, carrot peel, tomato tops, and bean ends, and the occasional small scraps of meat and fat. Also, proprietary bird seed. Also corn cobs. I clean up anything not taken in a day.
I was really pleased to hear this podcast from the Australian Geographic Society, and to be validated by Australia’s expert on the subject. Even now, though millions of people feed wild birds in Australia, there is a lot of controversy on the subject.
Darryl Jones is a bird scientist who opened up the debate about bird feeding in Australia. He went from anti-bird-feeder to becoming a responsible voice for an activity a large number of Australians enjoy doing. He is also loves colourful Hawaiian shirts.
When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches. And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”
TimTam Two, the bush turkey, drops by every day in hopes of a handout. I feed him browning outer leaves from the lettuce, carrot peel, and the seeds from capsicums. Occasionally some leftovers that hid too long in the fridge. He eats anything,
Yesterday I discovered a goanna, about one and a half metres long, lurking under the caravan. He was gone under the gap in the fence behind my place before I could even think of getting the camera. Here is a picture of another one, from another time.
The ibis don’t often come to my end of the camp. I suspect we “permanent” residents may be tidier than the transients. Or perhaps there is another reason. Whatever, I was surprised a few days ago by an ibis poking his head in my doorway – possibly drawn by the smell of fish, Cooked my favourite way (if it is the right kind of fish) in the electric wok. Ibis are not popular birds, and this one did not believe me when I gave him a friendly greeting and asked if he was feeling peckish. With a beak like that he should be, I thought. Perhaps he was offended that I called him “Osama Bin Chikin”. Or perhaps he panicked when he saw the caravan was occupied, and fled.
There are many birds here I don’t recognise. Some give me no chance to observe them before they are gone. The other day I watched what may have been a swift or Martin, darting about catching insects and carrying them off, presumably to feed their young.
Not sure who this little fellow is.
Very late last night I heard a rustling outside my window. I suspected it might be TimTam returned to forage for further scraps. When I peeked I saw a shape that was definitely not a bird. Far too big to be a rat. I suspected at first it was a wallaby. There are several species on the island. But it did not move as a wallaby would. I concluded it was a possum or koala. I kept very quiet and watched. I hoped it would move out into the light from the lamp post opposite my site so I could get a better view, but it somehow melted into the shadows and disappeared with a final rustle of dead leaves. Leaving me wondering, because next morning I found a lettuce leaf left by TimTam. I conclude it was not interested in that. So probably not a possum.
There are lots of lizards and skinks gadding about behind the van. My favourite is one I think is a water dragon. Another one too shy to sit for a portrait.
I hear at least two species of frog, one I recognise as the ubiquitous Green Tree Frog, I haven’t seen any of them yet.
Today turned out to be the scorcher they predicted. 27 degrees already and I’m in an all- over sweat. I shall be in the camp pool later for sure. Soon. The pool is beside the laundry, so I can kill two birds.
After my swim this morning I pedalled to Aldi for eggs, chorizo and a baguette. There, in the new Wednesday specials , I spotted a plastic laurel leaf trellis with solar powered LED lights. Just the sort of cheap but reasonable quality thing Aldi is famous for. It was too big for the bike, so I went back for it in the cruiser. On the way home I called in to the bottle store for an icy cold bottle of Coopers Best Extra Stout, a drink good enough to rival Speights Old Dark. I’m drinking it now. I have just put the trellis up, and I’m drenched.
The idea of the trellis was to allow me to leave my door open and roam the caravan in my underwear on a hot day without offending anyone who glanced in. I couldn’t care less about the LED lights, but my neighbour two doors down was very enthusiastic about them. Christmassy. They won’t cost me anything to run, and if they break, who cares?
My neighbours have all fired up their air-con units. Yes I chose that word deliberately. They are perplexed that I haven’t installed one. They tell me I won’t survive without it. I managed last year well enough, but this year may indeed be different. We shall see.
I hadn’t planned to do it today. I only wanted to see if I could manage 100 lengths of the pool in two hours or less. I swam 48 lengths in the first hour and thought I could do better, so I pushed on. Same result. After two hours, 96 lengths with only a minute to spare. It looked as if I had reached my hull speed. 1.2 km/hr. Or 0.648 knots.
I was in the right mood to continue. I’d eaten a good breakfast, I was well hydrated and I had started early, so there was plenty of time. I kept trying to beat my current record of twelve lengths in a quarter hour. I almost did it a couple of times but in the fourth hour I started to slow. And felt hungry. I hadn’t brought my wallet with me, so there would be no sustenance other than bottled water until I went home.
As I swam and counted laps, I was also letting my mind wander down the path of possibilities. I felt that in my current regime I was finally getting on top of things. As it began to look as if I would actually complete my five thousand metre goal I fell into a reverie about what goal I might set my sights on next. I still haven’t seen the Great Barrier Reef. That has to be my next goal. Dive the Barrier.
The reverie continued, I fancied I might try swimming the length of the Barrier Reef. That would be a worthy challenge. I’d have to use fins of course. At my present swimming speed it would take me about 95 days if I swam non-stop. But I would have to rest and sleep. So it would undoubtedly take much longer. That meant I’d need supplies. This could easily be a nine month swim.
I considered the logistics. I would need a swim noodle to use as a pillow. I would have to tow a series of inflated inner tubes to carry my supplies. One would have a solar still, to supply me with fresh water straight from the sea. One would support a solar panel, battery, and my CPAP machine, suitably protected from seawater. A third would carry food supplies and shark repellent. And vinegar in case of jellyfish. I should probably take along a speargun for protection, and to supplement my food supplies. Also a net on a pole, fine enough to strain out plankton as I swam. If a whale can survive on that, so can I.
I would not be able to cook so I’d need plenty of lime juice and coconut milk so I could make any fish I speared into Kokoda. I wondered if plankton would make good Kokoda. I would need chilli paste, garlic and ginger as well. In case plankton didn’t taste all that good.
There was going to be quite a lot to tow. I’d definitely need the fins. Which made me think I’d better take a spare pair along. And an extra mask and snorkel. It would be a disaster if I lost them and they sank into the depths. I’d need lanyards on everything.
No matter how well I ate, all that exercise would drastically affect my weight, especially the fat that currently makes me buoyant. So I had better take a buoyancy vest.
I would have to manage all this by myself. I could not have a support crew. Apart from the expense, they would probably force me to abort the swim and lock me up in an asylum.
Thus I passed the time.
It took just over 265 minutes to complete 200 lengths. 5 kilometres at an average 1.14 km/hr. I estimate I burnt about 12,000 kJ in that effort. No wonder I was famished.
I rode home. The rogan josh in the slow cooker was not quite yet ready. I put some Uncle Ben’s rice medley to heat up in the top half of the slow cooker, and opened a can of cider. By the time it was gone I knew I badly needed a nap. I did. I really did. I was asleep in minutes.
When I awoke it was after eight. I had slept over four hours. I rushed off for a pee, and when I returned I remembered to weigh myself before I ate. Today I am – I was – exactly 20 kilos lighter than I was in January. Pats self on back with good arm. Other arm can’t reach. Waits for applause. Not a sausage.
Drinks another cider. Eats an extra large helping of curry and rice. Which is now overcooked. The meat is mushy. The celery and onion have dissolved in the spicy yoghurt and tomato sauce, which has turned a bit watery. The carrots are recognisable only by their colour.
Thus the fruits of victory become ashes in our mouths.
According to my app, if I repeated today’s effort every day, I would lose another twenty kilos in five weeks.