On nights when storms are brewing and the sun sets like a Hermes scarf, I see the kookaburras on the wire laughing at the shadows. Smaller birds harass them, attempting to claim their vantage points, but the kookaburras are unmoved. Their ancestry in this land is old, their spirits are sage, shrewd; another day with food, water and flight aplenty is all they seek.
When I first came to this land, as green and new as a character in a folk tale, stunned by the movement, smell and colour of the bush, I saw a kookaburra in a gum tree. I knew the song, even from a place of colder climes :
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry King of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra laugh…….
When you see a creature you have only ever heard of in songs or books before, it makes you do a double take. The kookaburra looked at me with his wise black eye. I looked at him, willing myself to be brave and stare straight back. Somehow in that moment we knew each other.
Can you feel a kinship with a wild thing? With a bird that knows the sky, the sun and the wind better than you ever could? I think you can, I think when you share that moment of connection you realise that despite differences in wings and feathers, skin and bone, we are all the same.
The kookaburras laugh once more as the thinnest stream of light remains. The laugh rises and mingles with the purple dark; a sound that is a bit like joy, a bit like tears.
The shadows grow thicker, purpose gathers, and suddenly the wires are clear as wings cut through the indigo air. Velvet, strong as the light of wishes, ending the day.
* Kookaburra was written by Marion Sinclair in 1932.
You can listen to a kookaburra laughing here.