Differentiation

Other people’s words about … wild animals

As Paul and I were cresting the last hill, as I was squinting into the darkening woods to make out the path, a couple of deer lifted their heads at once and differentiated themselves from the trees.

We stared at them, and they at us, for a full thirty seconds without moving. They multiplied as we looked at them. There were three at first, then there were four, then there were five. They were the exact color of the bark and leaves –- gray brown –- but the skin around their eyes was red. I felt the breeze on their backs lift the braid from my chest and set it down over my shoulder.

‘They’re going to get us,’ Paul whispered. He reached for my hand.

‘They’re a herd,’ I reminded him. ‘They’re afraid of us.’

Two more appeared. Paul shivered.

From ‘History of Wolves
by Emily Fridlund

When I walk in the Scrub, particularly at certain times of the day, I am always conscious that I might encounter a roo or too. There are traces of them throughout the Scrub.

Sometimes a kangaroo appears before me in plain sight — in a clearing in a patch of sunlight, enjoying the last rays of the sun, joey in pouch.

But sometimes there are roos in front of me all the time, without my even realising it. I don’t know what alerts me to them then. It might be the faintest rustle in the leaves around me, or a slight movement — an ear-twitch, perhaps. Sometimes a sense comes over me, simply: a dawning awareness that I am not alone any more, that I am being watched, and regarded, and assessed.

Kangaroos are not naturally aggressive towards humans, as far as I know, or not during encounters like this. But still, like all wild animals, they are protective of each other and of their young. And so, when I come across a roo or two (or more) in this way — when they differentiate themselves from the bushes around them, as Linda, the narrator in the passage above, beautifully puts it — I make sure to stop and take one or two steps back. I let the kangaroos know I’m not a threat. We regard each other a while, creature to creature, acknowledging each other. It’s not fear I feel then, like Paul, the little boy in the quote above: it’s respect.

And then I move on, leaving them to their world, re-entering my own.

Gate-crashing

Recently, walking in the Scrub, I came across a bunch of kangaroos
bivouacking under the trees.

Aldinga Scrub 17 February 2016 1.17 pm
Aldinga Scrub
17 February 2016
1.17 pm

I felt as though I had gate-crashed on their gathering.
One of the females certainly let me know how she felt about my intrusion.

Aldinga Scrub 17 February 2016 1.06 pm
Aldinga Scrub
17 February 2016
1.06 pm

So I left them to their party …

Late spring in the Scrub

In late October, I took another wander through the Scrub.
In blossom were fan flowers:
DSCN2331
muntries:
DSCN2345
and those papery, daisy-like flowers, the common everlastings:
DSCN2336
I encountered other inhabitants of the Scrub, too —
many of them.
DSCN2339
It was mid-morning — grazing time, I think, before the sun gets too hot.
I don’t like disturbing roos:
when threatened, they can be aggressive, especially if they are guarding joeys.
And besides, I’m aware that I’m on their territory, not vice versa.
So I stepped away and left them happily to it …
DSCN2350
… Do you think it’s comfortable in that pouch?
It doesn’t look it to me!

Trailblazers

Another path to follow

Often, when I wander through our local patch of Scrub, I encounter kangaroos.
The kangaroos there aren’t particularly tame:
alerted to my presence several metres away, they go still, ears erect.
We stare at each other respectfully — at least on my part — and, yes, cautiously.
And then they bound away.
Sometimes, though, I am only aware of their presence by the hints they leave behind.

Kangaroo footprint near the entrance to the Scrub
Kangaroo footprint near the entrance to the Scrub

Somehow, these kangaroos co-exist with us and our lives
while still treading their own paths.

Kangaroo path through the scrub
Kangaroo path through the scrub

I feel honoured to cross their path from time to time.