WE HAD a bit of rain in Melbourne last night, quite a bit. Around midnight, the show outside was too good to miss, so the port, glasses and ashtray all moved to the front verandah, where the Rufous Bird, who roosted overnight at the Billabong, soon fluttered out from the kitchen with little bits of cheese on sticks, some multicultural dip and dry biscuits, snappy celery and a fresh jar of Vegemite. It is one of the many great things about women, that compulsion to mark even the most mundane occasion by putting nibbles on plates, but this display of nature’s fury was particularly well catered. By the time the evening’s second wave of storms had rolled in from the Bay, setting barrages of thunder to rattle windows and driving a procession of soggy ringtails into the shelter of the garage ceiling, a fresh bottle of champagne to toast the tempest’s fury had joined the front-porch provisions.
This morning, with nary a touch of thick-headedness because champagne is such a wonderful tipple, the news on the radio is that some parts of the city on the Yarra copped more than 40mm in less than eight hours. The only complainant was the cat, which streaked over the side fence at the height of the storm, soaked to the skin and quite clearly taking the weather as a personal insult. Before the creature realised there was food in the offing and switched from aggrieved irritation to plaintive mewing, the Professor had been twice bitten, scratched and gouged for the offence of offering a consoling pat, at which point the Rufous Bird demonstrated that other staple of feminine behaviour and observed with a sniff that the mauling was entirely warranted. If only women would deliver those adjudications on sensible behaviour before the event, the world would be a much safer place, but they never do. Perhaps they are too busy anticipating the next opportunity to cube little bits of cheese.
It is always very difficult to intuit what others might be thinking, and not just cats and women but Age reporters as well. Melissa Fyfe, for example, might been contemplating last night’s storm and wondering if she should balance her previous advocacy of the need to prepare for endless drought with a fresh report that, on second thought, would concede her catastropharian informants might have been just a tad alarmist. But probably not, as her more recent discovery that the Premier’s wife has a sister who is married to a man who owns cattle, was quite probably still at the fore of an investigative mind.
And what of her colleague Adam Morton? Have the recent rains inspired thoughts of revisiting one of his source’s dire warning that the drought-now-broken could mean a Victoria bereft of birdlife? “Clearly it shows when we have sustained change in rainfall and sustained change in climate it is having a marked effect,'' Deakin University’s Andrew Bennett told him three years ago. It is lucky the Billabong’s moggy does not read the Age, as predictions like that could only inspire an even more vicious state of mind. Not that she harbours any affection for birds, mind you, just that she would prefer to kill them all herself. As it happens, the birds are doing quite nicely these days – it was only last week that the Professor spotted a sacred kingfisher on a Royal Park power line -- which is more than can said for the Age’s shareholders and laid off sub-editors.
A female sacred kingfisher (not known to cube cheese)
And so is Melbourne, just by the way. The online weather map confirms the finger of sunshine which just jabbed through the study’s window is a harbinger of a lovely afternoon, so Doctor Yowie and the golf club beckon. It is the natural order of things -- just like droughts and rain and nonsense in the Age.