The changing of the guard
The sun is thinking about disappearing; the sky has that look, that glow that speaks of late, late afternoon. I pour myself a drink and go outside to witness the dying of the day. It’s a favourite time for me. I sit in the garden and look north, where more often than not masses of cumulus clouds hang like so much clotted cream over the waters of the bay.
In the sky, the first of the birds begin their homeward jaunt. A pair of herons sculls through the air high above, their legs trailing behind their wings. Somewhere else a phalanx of ibis pass in arrow formation, their great, jutting beaks thrust out before them.
A noisy pack of lorikeets scrambles into the sky and makes for home base in the gum trees on the foreshore while the stay-at-home noisy miner birds gather in family groups in the silky oaks and palms, trading insults with their neighbours the blue helmeted honey eaters. A sulphur crested cockatoo launches into the air squawking a last profanity as it swoops past.
If I’m lucky the sky will put on a show, just for me. Over my left shoulder the clouds will blush pink, then orange, then red. In a last defiant act, the rays shoot high above the bay, flushing the topmost edges of the cumulus stacks before the light show fades.
Then the bats come out. Microbats flitting over the garden on silent wings, feasting on emerging insects. Above them, the first of the fruit bats appear, scout bats searching for food for the flock. They are silhouetted against the still-bright sky, black nightmare shapes if such things bother you. I keep my eyes on the north. In the fading light the horizon seems to boil. Bats. Hundreds of them, passing along invisible pathways in the sky. I turn and watch them flying overhead, still visible in the southwest where darkness is still kept at bay. Soon enough they disappear, swallowed up into the gathering night.
I slap my arm. Mosquitoes. Time to go inside.