A walk with a snake beneath my feet
There is a beautiful path I take regularly, it carries me past a tall tree, whose trunk has split in the growing. It flicks out of the earth like the tongue of a giant serpent, tines spread wide, to collect the chemicals of my existence. Sometimes I daydream that the mighty head with rise out of the ground and the creature lurking below will paralyse me with fear and eat my dog. I walk a little quicker on these broody dark days. Sometimes I just think about what to cook for dinner and hardly notice the trunk, when the sun shines bright, my crowded mind is filled with marshmallows and gravy.
Today I am standing under the tree looking up. It is the end of a bright blue sky day and I have just watched two Rosellas scramble up from the grass path before me. They chatter now, among the leaves, avoiding my gaze, waiting for me to go. My dog is busy with a smaller one of his kind further back along the path, I have time. The pair are annoyed with me, they want to eat the grass seed, I want to see their bright feathers, the dog is still sniffing, there is a standoff. I can not see the birds among the cones and glare of the sun.
I hear the air sucking whirrrr of a something moving in the space behind me and turn just in time to see the aerial acrobatics of two Tuis, who swoop into the tongue tree and shout at the beautiful Rosellas to leave. They accuse and make the white cravats tremble at their throats.
Svit svit, chat chat chat, brrrr, beep beep. Leave this place, you do not belong with your bright feathers. Wheeeeer, cluck cluck, doop doop, you do not belong,
I watch the kerfuffle and see leaves and tree things float to the floor. The Rosellas jump and half fly to other branches of the tree but do not leave. They chatter and tease.
Cheeet. chat chat chat chat, cheeeet chat chat. We will not leave, we belong here. We only want to eat seeds from the grass, you do not even like those. Chat chat chat chat, we will stay. We want what is ours. Hahahah we will stay.
Bee-bo whoop whoop, cha cha. Go, there is nothing for you here.
One Tui flies up and tries to flap them away. I can hear her beautiful black wings, designed for skill in the air, beating anger.
Beee bobo, wher, go home, go away.
One Tui is cross, unexpectedly the other lets go and flies away into the ending day. I watch it dart in and out of the branches, searching for supper, free from the quarrel.
Cheeet. chat chat chat chat, cheeeet chat chat, We will not leave, we belong here. The Rosellas argue. We belong too, we are bird, you are bird. Chat chat chat. We are more beautiful than you. Our feathers are bright.
How dare you. Svit svit, chat chat chat, brrrr beep beep.
The remaining Tui is incensed, her voice sharp. Her supper flies by, she does not notice.
I was born here, I can trace my history. You, chat chat booop boop, travelled to my country and now you are sitting in my tree.
Chat chat chat chat, It is not your tree. We only want a good life, food that you do not want. We nest in holes that you do not use.
The Rosellas fly to the lower branches. I see the tree’s skin flake off and be carried away. The Rosellas are stubborn and do not move.
The tree sways and shivers. “Will you two stop.” A cone falls to the grass. I wait, all is still. Pine Tree continues. “You are both bird and you are fighting for nothing. Tui, you have enough so can share, Rosellas, there are other trees where you can hide from human, you must work with Tui.”
I can see the Tui feels bad, she does not even like Pine Tree, but the Rosellas were near her favorite Kowhai, she had worried they would take her nectar. The Rosellas are sheepish, they could have moved and not been so stubborn with their tail flicking. I look for the dog and make to move on.
“You should be quiet pine, you take my space”, rustles cabbage tree, “you are taking my light, you know I love the sun. You have no right to talk to Tui that way. She and I are friends from way back, I belong here, you do not. My roots have held the earth and, my bark and leaves have been used for centuries.”
I sigh and whistle for my dog to hurry along, this was getting silly. The light of the day allows me to see the thickness of the air, millions of particles looking for rest. The dog comes to heel, rubs his smelly wet fur against my leg and gallops off ahead.
I walk away, they are all moaning and arguing behind me, an argument that will never be settled. I hasten my step it is getting dusky, I think about the snake asleep beneath my feet and head home where I belong.
Children, remember nothing can be taken away from you, you can only allow it to be taken. Share, it brings great joy and do not waste time with silly arguments. Fly away.