This afternoon I was listening to the tail end of a satellite meeting for School Of The Air. My hands were empty, so I decided to begin making a sticky date pudding for a supporter trip I’m catering for next weekend. The lesson finished, and I foolishly poured boiling water over the dates before checking that I had butter. I put the laptop on the bench while I did so because I was in the middle of setting up a website for the online writing program I’m teaching.
No butter in the fridge, or the freezer. One hand (the clean one), responded to an e-mail about DNS records, whatever they may be, to a friend, Josh, who was helping me wade through the process. I told him he was speaking another language, but in a nice way, because he was rescuing me. As the e-mail pinged away, I ran outside to the laundry. Only a sheep in the chest freezer. Oh no, no butter! I, who have six spare of everything, have finally ran out of butter. I know, the neighbours!
A couple are staying in the greenhouse, 200m away, who are govvies to my kids for a few weeks. I jumped on my bike and raced across, and got halfway before I dumped the bike. A large bearded dragon was on the track, soaking up some sun. I grabbed him, and walked to the greenhouse – he was strong, and tried to eat my arm. As I got there, I saw my six year old, ‘helping’ with some gardening. He beckoned me over, ‘look Mumma.’ They had a plastic tub, with leaf litter in the bottom. ‘We think we may have a snake’ said Margot. Zave dove his hand into the tub under the leaf litter. ‘NOOO!’ I dove for his hand.
‘It’s got legs’ Zave told me. I could see the reptile now, but couldn’t see any legs. ‘There look, Zave pointed again, his finger millimetres above it. Now I could see a tiny remnant of what could have been a leg in its earlier evolutionary process. ‘Oh, great,’ I said with a big sigh of relief, ‘but we’ll have to identify it. It may not be on the species list. And..do you have any butter?’ Heading back to our house, I carried the dragon, and the butter, back to the house. Not an easy task, in case you’ve never done it. We put the dragon in the tub we already had set up for our own dragon, thinking they could be friends for a day.
I sat down with the boys on the ground with the reptile ID book. Aah, a Lerista, of course, L. punctatovittata in case you care. The boys dropped it, I picked it up, again. Then we remembered the dragons. We ran to the tub, Both dragons were puffed up and going into camouflage colours. It looked like the big one was going to eat Scram, our little one. We decided to let the new one go before a fatality occurred.
‘What’s that?’ My son pointed at the dragon’s neck. An enormous tick, plus a baby tick, were attached to the soft skin around it’s throat. ‘Quick, Clay, get my tweezers.’ I pulled off both ticks, and Zave crushed them with an old roo bone. I ran back outside, in my socks, and put him back where I found him. Zave ran back to the greenhouse with the Lerista to let him go. I finished the pudding, with the butter, while completing the new website via another six e-mails to my very patient friend. I owe him many bottles of wine.