Possum Magic

Sometimes I think Australia is misunderstood. When I visited the UK and Ireland a couple of years ago, it was interesting to hear how different countries (and indeed, my distant relatives) viewed ours.

A pattern emerged. Australia is made of venomous spiders and snakes and glorious beaches,  sharks, bikinis and surf boards, and a large rock, kangaroos and echidnas. We have a bridge and an opera house and sunshine.

And we all go around saying ‘G’day’.

We don’t.

I mean, some people do, like some people say, ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ or ‘how are you?’ and maybe that includes those from non-English speaking backgrounds or our indigenous population, or it might not. We are a big continent – our accents get broader or thinner depending upon the part you grew up in.

It’s like going to Ireland assuming everyone says ‘Top of the mornin’ to ye’ and it’s all leprechauns and clover leaves and Riverdance and Guiness and St Patrick’s Day. It’s not. This is what tourist advertising does. They tell you what you think you want to hear and they get it all wrong. If I had been given an outsiders’ idea of Australia –  I wouldn’t come here. Except perhaps for kangaroos and echidnas.

We also have quokkas and platypuses and extraordinary wildlife and wilderness and beaches that aren’t covered tanned folk but are blustery and rugged with lighthouses. Bush that can be rainforest or alpine or dry. We have areas that get snow and sunshine. And these are only in the small parts of this continent that I’ve touched. I’m sure there’s much more wonder to be had.

I’m getting way off track.

On the downside, we also have possums. They’re quite cute when you catch them, wide eyed, with a torch on a midnight walk but not so much fun if they’re in your roof space. One took up residence and woke us up the other morning as it returned from whatever-possums-do-at-night to our place to sleep.

We could hear it creaking around, fitting into walls and snuggling into nooks. As my husband and I were sitting in the lounge room, I heard it in the ceiling next door.

“It’s on the move” I said.

My husband dashed upstairs into the attic.

After about twenty minutes of silence, I ducked into the attic to see my husband in the darkness, with a finger to his lips before pointing to possum’s place in the roof.

I quietly retreated downstairs.

Five minutes later, my husband emerged and threw on his shoes.

“He’s out! I saw him jump from the roof to the tree.”

And my husband was outside with a touch and a ladder, lopping our tree so the possum couldn’t access the house.

Welcome to Australia.


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