Warning: I still find this disturbing, in a Gawd, I'm an idiot kind of way.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how I arrived in Australia, green as grass and a committed scaredy-cat as far as the local wildlife is concerned. Have a look at Snakes Alive! if you feel you’ve missed something.
It didn’t take me long, however, to realise that even living in suburbia, as Alison and I did in the first few months after we arrived in Western Australia, the wildlife quite literally on our doorstep was magnificent to behold.
One evening we arrived home after working in Perth, and there, on the screen door, was the biggest stick insect I’ve ever seen. I swear the thing must have been at least nine inches long, maybe even a foot.
We stood gawping at it (he/she? Who can tell these things just by looking?) for a good five minutes and then gently eased the door open and slipped inside.
That stick insect was the instigator of much refreshed enthusiasm for our new homeland that night. Everything we spoke about centred on its mammoth proportions, its subtle colouring, its brazen refusal to budge even when we were standing just a few inches away (I got closer as I got bolder, as men do), and its surprising cuteness – it’s an insect; it shouldn’t be classed as cute, but this little (big) guy (guyess?) was cute as cute can be.
Another day dawned and our routine – alarmingly, very like the routine we followed back home in Scotland – kicked off again. After a quick breakfast we headed to the front door, but I stopped myself from barging out with my usual bluster. I wanted to see if Twiggy was still there (yes, because of her stubborn refusal to move from the door we decided that she must be female and we named her accordingly - sad, isn’t it, how grown adults with university degrees will regress to the level of five-year-olds when cuteness is introduced to a situation. Actually, there is a pattern to observe here, as I'll demonstrate in a later post.)
There was no sign of her. Not on the screen door, not on the bricks of the wall, and not on the inner door, although why I was checking there I have no idea.
“Musta buggered off last night,” I called over my shoulder to Alison as I stepped out onto the porch...
I looked at my feet, and there was Twiggy. All nine or so inches of her. Flat as a flounder, and very, very dead.
I’ve never felt so low. I’m still not over it. But it’s only been ten years.
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