Strange bedfellows indeed
|I was sorting through some old photos. Too many of some precious times and nowhere near enough of others, but while you’re living Life, you don’t always have time to stop and pose. This was especially true last century, when you’d need to take an entire roll of film with your camera, carefully unload and package it to send far away for magical processing into photos. The ‘turnaround’ time was 10-14 days before we could see the exciting (or totally deflating) results. The cost of film itself, and all the postage involved before the final viewing, was prohibitive—especially for a couple of poor, wannabe farmers.
Can’t help a sigh when I think of two especially dear furry ‘children’ who shared our lives in our earliest farming days. We have a couple of ‘not especially good’ photos of them, but not together — demonstrating their greatest appeal and charm. They thought they were brother and sister, adopting me joyously as their mother. ‘They’ were our little dog Candy, barely out of puppy-hood, but a born mother herself — and my latest rescue, Ooroo, the baby kangaroo none had expected to survive. A lifetime ago, but hubby and I share memories of these two as fresh as a new-laid egg.
A routine was born after Ooroo’s first feed. Candy enthusiastically washed his chin and mouth, then he took his turn, holding her face with delicate paws, licking off surplus droplets of milk clinging to her whiskers. They talked to each other constantly; he in clicks and her with gentle whines and soft ‘woofs’.
As Ooroo grew in health, strength and courage, his bedroom would often hang on the back of a chair in the sun on the verandah, until he was ready for his next grand adventure—coming out into the world. I needed to carry him at first, tiny paws clutching tightly to my arm… and his worried face peeking out at the alien surrounds. But his courage was complete with Candy by his side.
Navigation of the verandah steps proved a major learning curve; quite an introduction to the great outdoors. Candy taught him the questionable delights of visiting pigs, goats, lambs, and hens populating various areas of our house yard. Every time I went outside Candy and Ooroo followed, close on my heels like a small dust cloud. Together we went to our outside loo (or toilet); the outside wash-house (alias THE laundry); and the generator shed. Ooroo learned the ins-and-outs—plus the horrors—of the alarming noises of these rooms.
Next, Candy decided the time had come for Ooroo to discover the world of the paddock. She was now adept at negotiating the ring-lock wire of the fences with a nose forward, twist of the body, flip the back legs through action. Unfortunately, Ooroo’s more complex body design meant poking his head and front legs through was the simple part, but not so the essential twist. What a terrible tangle he’d get into. Without Candy’s woofing and wheedling, he’d never have risked it.
The view of these intrepid explorers from my kitchen window found me entertained and deeply moved by their pantomime. Candy performed her manoeuvre and woofed. Ooroo tried various twists of his body, but failed. He worried some—withdrew and clicked—and worried some more. Candy patiently repeated the entire routine, again and again. Her determination to introduce him to the joys of an adventure on the other side knew no boundaries.
After many false starts, Ooroo mastered the technique, to an exuberant appreciation of barks and more vigorous face-licking. He clicked joyously, and as the pair took off to explore the 200 acres (80 hectares) paddock, the opening lines of our favourite old song, Henry Mancini’s ‘Moon River’ echoed in my mind—
‘Two drifters, off to see the world.
There’s such a lot of world to see.’