It had been a hot couple of days, the thermometer read almost 45 degrees. I was warm, but the thick sandstone walls of our old homestead kept the worst of the heat at bay. It was 6 o’clock, and I thought it was close enough to 40 degrees to brave a bike ride. Sure enough, the relief of being in my own space within infinite space made the effort of riding against the northerly wind worthwhile.
Only a kilometre or so from the house, I spotted a young emu, newly fledged from it’s Dad, sitting on the side of the track. As I rode closer it staggered up, and started limping away, obviously hurt. Now as those close to me know, one of my great ambitions in life has been to catch and raise an emu. This little one may have made it in the world on it’s own, but chances were, with that limp, it wouldn’t have.
I dropped my bike and proceeded to chase it over many hundreds of metres, occasionally wincing as I wore my bike shoes which had cleats. Somehow oblivious to the pain of running through the scrub, the heat, and the potential snakes, I followed the bird relentlessly, trying to herd it back toward the house. Very aware that I needed help, I called for reinforcements on the radio. Al, the dog and the kids were on their way in the ute and motorbike.
The young emu however, refused to be herded, and limped back into the thick bush. After racing over fallen acacia bushes and across a dry creek channel, I realised I would have to catch it on my own. Not wanting to hurt the little fella any more than he was, and on the verge of imploding with heat, I made one last attempt. The emu grunted, and sat down as my arms closed around it.
Coming out of the bush, my bone marrow may have felt like it was melting, but I was prouder than I had been playing Hills netball in the grand final. Our little emu, name to be determined, is now happily feasting on native plums in the chicken coop.