If you have to be woken from the fug of jet lag, there is no better homecoming sound than the grunt of a koala.
It's been years since I have seen or heard a koala in our back yard. There was a time when there were about four in the yard at any time, the scratches evident on their favourite trees, babies sitting on their backs, persistent scampering between trees and the languid munch of gum leaves.
It made me look up a lot and in so doing, it made me appreciate my bush block, bursting with wildlife and trees, the glint of the sky above.
We have more wallabies than we had before, but there hasn't been much to look up for in recent years.
We had taken a few weeks off to visit our daughter in Berlin, travelling with her to Italy and Malta and other interesting places. These places made me look up a lot, something my savvy travelling daughter told me made me look like a tourist. Well this tourist unashamedly looked out and up taking in the beauty of the ancient ruins, the throng of other tourists, the gripping of the handbag in the crowds. This tourist did lots of oohs and aahs as the senses were assaulted by the ancient and the archaic, the art of the masters (all the Ninja turtles were represented), the smell of different food, the feel of the cashmere. It was a heady ride, almost surreal as those pictures from history lessons materialized in front of me. It's one thing to read about the Colosseum. It's another to touch its walls. There I was leaning with the Pisa tower, making sense of the story of the Sistine chapel ceiling, gripping my hands together as we negotiated another hairpin turn on the Amalfi coast.
And just as you started to understand why this is called the ABC tour of Italy (another bloody cathedral), it was time to leave. I was starting to feel overloaded with the beauty and history I had encountered, so I was happy to come home.
I often find my house feels strange after some time away,echoing with absence. I lived the day and fell asleep on my own bed, none better. And at midnight, the grunting of the koalas woke me.
In the morning, the kookaburras peeled out their laughter. It rained and the brown grass greened up a bit. Our resident snake slithered across the road. The neighbours called out a cheery hello. I embraced the space that Australia offers. And I felt happy to be home.
- Linda Muller
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