Friday, August 31, 2012

Rites of Spring, Swimming Rodents?

It is September 1st and the official first day of Spring in Australia and it is the most glorious day. Over the last week Spring has suddenly sprung in Sydney in a wave of warmth and fragrance as all the jasmine and creepers come out and the imported trees sprout green overnight. The days are perfect with glittering blue skies and temperatures up into the twenties – I am talking degrees centigrade here rather than the more nippy 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The warmth and sunshine feel like a reward after what has been for Sydney a cold winter. Husband ordered a tonne of wood in June, which had to be stacked round the carport giving the front of the house a ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ type feel, somewhat out of place in suburban Mosman. The resident Drama Queen boyfriend goggled a bit when he arrived for a spot of teenage romance to discover that he was expected to participate in a manly ‘How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?’ stacking contest with Husband and swiftly claimed a bad back in order to slink into the warmth and female company. Our wood burning stove was a complete godsend over the winter, both in terms of heat and keeping the mini (and large male) arsonists in the household happy.

My pleasure and delight in the rites of spring were somewhat dashed by the discovery of a large, dead rat in the swimming pool. There are two types of rat in our neighbourhood – the black rat (imported + bad) and bush rats (native + good), but neither type has a reputation as a keen swimmer, though of course the Olympics have propelled many couch potato types into action. Given the bush rat is supposed to be shy and retiring and reluctant to enter suburban back yards, my money is on this being a black rat.

As I approached the waterlogged corpse I did wonder whether it was in fact a possum, but even given my limited rodent identification skills it was pretty clear which side of the rat dividing line this animal fell. Aside from anything else based on the nightly performances above our ceiling, the possum tribe that seem to have taken up residence are clearly gymnasts not swimmers and indeed are currently working up a gold medal winning gymnastic routine involving somersaulting, vaulting and bouncing.

I fished the rat out, mentally calculating days until the pool will be used for the first arctic dip of Spring and wondering about the incubation period for Weil’s disease.

In the meantime I think a coffee down at the beach, lapping up the sun is required to banish the memory of the floating rodent and restore my sense of equilibrim.

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