Kangaroos are full of stories, or perhaps I should say I am full of kangaroo stories.
The big stories are usually heart breaking epics of terror and injury to these unique creatures.
Smaller stories are more like moments, joyful, pretty moments – a baby joey spinning round in big bouncy circles before trying to jump into the wrong pouch, or the intense fascination of watching ears spin like satellite dishes; the mesmerising action of a pair of young males boxing and bouncing, testing the merits of their rear tail balance, while their supersize feet ram into roo belly; or watching arching bodies suspended above tiny arms and thick heavy tails, as giant rear limbs swing through, one hop at a time, slowly looking for green pick.
Not long ago I pulled a joey’s toes out from between the top two wires of a fence. It had been chased by a dog into making a catastrophic error in capabilities. It didn’t move much after that and a woman from the wildlife rescue service came and took it away in an burnt orange pillow case. For me, it was a lesson in trying to comprehend the blind cruelty of life.
Last night was a different story.
I woke at 5am to the sound of thumping and growling. I immediately thought dogs were attacking the sheep who often sleep under the house. I leapt out of bed, opened the window, banged on the outside wall of the house and yelled. Several kangaroos took off from the front of the house, followed by the growling. My relief that it wasn’t the sheep was quickly replaced by frustration as the dog chased the mob. I imagined terrified roos being forced into fence lines where they too might have fragile legs caught and broken.
I thought maybe the kangaroos had come to the house for protection as they seemed to be trying to shelter under the house. All I had done by yelling was force them into being chased again.
I came outside onto the balcony and could hear a vicious ‘Grrrrrr, grrrrr, grrrrr’ and the heavy thump of a tail from across the valley. I visualised dogs teeth ripping soft roo hide as eventually one roo was cornered. I felt gutted and helpless.
The growling grew louder again, closer, back at the house. I called sweetly to the dog, as if I might be able to entice it away from its prey. Then the noise and movement was gone again, except for one roo under the balcony, hiding and hoping.
Suddenly the growling was back, and 6 or 7 roos were all hopping around underneath me. The snarling was coming from all directions, and one or two roos were making a clopping sound, like a horse clipping down a road.
It was chaotic, lots of moving about, banging against the underside of the balcony, growling and clucking, but I couldn’t see the dog. The growling was close. Suddenly a roo bounced out from under the house and the growling noise followed in the shape of another much larger kangaroo.
It was no dog, it was a roo chasing a roo.
All of a sudden I relaxed. All of sudden the lens I was looking through changed from black to brown. Brown is natural, not necessarily joyful, but earthy and in right order. Black is predatory, cruel, white folks impact and disorder.
As soon as the lens of my viewpoint changed, the story I told myself also changed. Neither view was right or wrong, neither changed the events, but each had a dramatic impact on how I felt!