Akheloios, son of Gaia, shape-shifting god of rivers and springs, has shifted north fifty metres in the month of my absence. I walk beside him, now named Miilba. Ripples skitter, their fins glean the available light. I can’t see the fish and can’t see the crabs, just types of spoil. The invisible and indeterminate hold everything together, mostly undefinable.
A dark phantom flies past (Striated Heron). The chattering of Wrens swims across. I only ever hear them on the far side. I’m hemmed in by forest with Magpies, Kookaburras, Dollarbirds and Honeyeaters. I reach the spot where the stingray was feeding. Nothing stays the same. A fish leaps vertically and drops straight down, 9.9. A hidden wallaby bounces through the trees behind.
The sun is under my feet, colour is waiting, but the Little Tern twists those elastic wings quickly, see-sawing up and down the river, diving from time to time. A big fat Pelican calmly glides off the sky. There’s no-one behind me, or in front of me, or anywhere in sight, just like yesterday.
A Noisy Friarbird and Dollarbird fly from tree to tree, new best friends. Six Needletail Swifts arc south, slicing the sky with such extravagant dexterity. Welcome Swallows darn the space below them.
The sun pushes through cloud with supplementary lumens. Black Cockatoos screech arrival and festoon a tall tree.
A walking shell drills a straight-line north, another strides from the opposite direction, dead straight too. They veer, make contact briefly, separate and keep to their original program. Every day chokes with decisions, trivial and vital. I’m heading home.
Back at the beginning, I prowl a party, a shrub emits mad, metallic rasps and squawks, four or five female Satin Bowerbirds flutter out, followed by the shiny inky-black male glaring shiny, violet eyes. Figbirds whistle from inside a tree opposite, laden with small fruits. A male Koel sits there, red eyes watching me, almost within reach. I have never been so close to a cuckoo.
We drive to the city to deliver a bottle of duty free to my travel agent, so helpful with the Covid turbulence. Stop for breakfast at the lookout. No dolphins today, and the surfers are just lying on the water. The best snail in this tasty world vanishes before me.
Coffs Marina offers views of all kinds of fish between the mast’s jiggled reflections. Plenty of Bream and Mullet, a Parrotfish, Wrasse, Butterfly fish, various stripeys, vertical / horizontal, black & yellow, black & white, and the huge, pale, grey ghosts mooning in the shadows are Starry Pufferfish. A darter cleans itself up on the seawall before starting the fishing business all over again. The world is fresh with life.
We head to the centre and catch a show at the art gallery, postponed three times because of Covid. Millba, in its long history, has never been postponed. There’s no competition.
Home’s blue skin now tunes into the garden, the air is green
Home has a new history, each rooms find trees, a leafy surround
Home is a nexus around which birds revolve
Home has sea views and a satellite
Home, our selfish culpability, no excuses.
Coffs Harbour marina