A Kodak Moment or Two




Karen Radford Treanor 

 

Copyright 2020  by Karen Radford Treanor

Photo of a male kangaroo by Gene Treanor.

Be Prepared” should be the photographer’s watchword as well as the Scout motto. Before the days of camera phones, I had my little Kodak with me at all times, except when I didn’t. Those times there would always be a great picture that I didn’t get. You’d think I’d have learned, but the camera was often umbilicalled to the computer and I’d forget it when I left the house. 

A few years ago as I drove through the Hills Forest in Western Australia I saw three kangaroos. I gave them a passing glance, assuming that it was Mom, last season’s baby, and the new baby.  I did my errand and returned along the same route where I saw the trio were again at the side of the road.

Turns out it was not Mom and two babies.  It was Dad, Mom and baby.  I don’t know what Mom’s name was, but Dad’s was clearly “Roger”.  While he was doing his best to be sure there were baby ‘roos for Christmas, Mom was unconcernedly nibbling a clump of grass, and baby was sitting on the ground but had his head in the pouch, having a sip from the milk bar.   The scene gave a whole new slant to the phrase ‘casual sex’, and made me consider whether having two distinct venues for fertilisation and gestation was an improvement on the ‘one place for all’ model. 

Kangaroos are strange and wonderful creatures which resemble other herbivores in equivalent ecologies across the world. You look at deer, zebras, kangaroos, alpacas and llamas and they all have very similar body size, mass and facial structures, and they all fill a similar niche in their local areas.  (Okay, kangaroos aren’t quite quadrupeds, but besides that.) Unlike the other creatures, kangaroos no longer have an apex predator to keep them under control. Millennia ago there were thylacines and thylacoleos, which one supposes acted as a balance mechanism. You can see in your mind’s eye a pack of Tasmanian tigers running down a boomer*, can’t you? Or a tawny marsupial lion springing down from a rocky outcropping?

Not long after we moved up to the Perth Hills, we discovered that a small mob of grey kangaroos lived in the State Forest cross the road from us. For some months we saw little of them, except for occasional glimpses as they bounded through the trees. After a while they began frequenting our yard late at night. At first it was just piles of roo poo that proved the visits, but one evening Gene came in from the shed and asked, “Want to see my new friend?”

I assumed it was the possum that came often and was so tame Gene could scratch his ears. I followed into the dark yard and looked up into the gum tree by the shed. No possum.

Not up there, over here,” Gene said, waving his torch towards the woodpile. There stood a kangaroo as tall as he. It blinked at us and returned to what it had been doing: eating the winter grass that had sprung up on the edges of the culvert that in a good year would carry our winter creek. I stepped behind the claret ash tree, just in case the ‘roo was feeling bouncy, and set my camera for ‘flash’.

The big grey animal moved slowly along the grassy area, and then hopped down onto the driveway. I managed to get a couple of pictures of him, not very good ones, but enough to prove that there are still kangaroos almost in the Mundaring CBD. My sister lives in the wilds of New Hampshire and often tells me of exotic visitors like eagles and fishers; at last I’d have something more exciting than bandicoots and parrots to report.

The visitor loped off down the driveway and we went up the back walk and into the house.
I wish I’d had my camera ready,” mused Gene.

You might still have a chance. The security light hasn’t come on in the front yard—which means the ‘roo is still somewhere at the side of the house,” I observed. “I suppose this explains why the security lights come on in the middle of the night. There is never anyone around when I get up to look, and I thought it must be the wind.”

Gene got his camera and went quietly out the front door, tripping the security light as he went. He disappeared around the back of the truck and I saw a couple of flashes from the camera, then he returned rather more quickly than he had gone. “He’s in the side yard and he’s got a friend!” he exclaimed. There was a swish and a bounding noise and something moved on the far side of the truck and we were again alone. One of the cats came out from under the truck with her tail the size of a hearth brush, looking over her shoulder as if to say “Did you see that?”

Next morning I went out with a garden trowel and a bucket and collected all the roo poo I could find. As I put it in my potted plants, I planned the email to my sister, bragging about my organic garden product home delivery service!


*(Millennials take note, in this context a boomer is a large male kangaroo, not a human born in 1947.)






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