A Momentary Connection

9 January 2008

A morning walk to the lighthouse on Griffith Island at Port Fairy is a workout in beautiful surroundings, nature at its best. Clearly laid paths make our task easy. Following the small red arrows, nailed to the signposts, and ensuring not to stray for fear of stepping on the mutton-bird burrows, I spied a few mutton-birds that had not yet left for their day’s flight. The soft sounds of their twittering, the plants whistling in the breeze, and the warm sun slowly rising at its own pace, make this walk truly exhilarating: like being re-born, and that glowing feeling when all’s right with the world, and you are glad to be alive.

A furry body in the long grass moves. I stop in my tracks. At first it looks like a large rabbit, or a fox, but as the brown shape raises its head, and turns towards me, I realise it is a swamp wallaby. It was just like the photo I had seen in the brochure picked up the night before.

I venture closer. I take large silent strides in my rubber-soled puma sports. The wallaby seems to be aware of me. Surely it must as I am standing here for so long, staring at it. It continues eating in the shrubs. With my digital camera poised, I take fuzzy, obscure shots. Its head is burrowed in the grass as it gnaws away at whatever it is finding tasteful. I feel the cool breeze across my face, sweeping my hair behind me. For a moment I think that perhaps it is not aware of me because the wind is blowing away from it, but it surprises me by lifting its body upright and its head directly towards me.

For a moment we stare into each other’s eyes. We are only two metres apart. Two special beings. There is a momentary connection, a primitive exchange. No fear, no emotion but acknowledgement of each other’s presence. The moment passes, and the swamp wallaby turns, head down, fossicking for food again in the long grass. I stay and watch silently for some time, then reluctantly depart. And on to the lighthouse.

A Momentary Connection

Amy Hing-Young

Coogee, Sydney, Australia

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