Sunday morning.


Max has let me sleep in for an hour.
It's light outside, but traffic-quiet still.

Very still.

When we get outside there is no movement at all in the cool air. The sun, with its fuzzy edges, is well up. Clear of the dark purple outline of the Adelaide hills that are still in shadow.
The light blue of the sky is almost clear, marked only by a few watery brush strokes of the palest white, too early yet, but foretelling of the rising cotton wool cumulus that will appear later in the morning as the ground warms up and the thermals begin their upward stirring.

Along the deserted street and we turn in to the oval.

It must have been cold last night. Across the sparkling green grass, wherever there is a shadow, the silver sheet of brittle frost still sticks. Even the fence posts along the edge of the car park cast leaning lines of silver out into the green expanse.

The magpie family, the young one now almost indistinguishable from the adults, are casting about looking for food amongst the grass along the edge of the pines’ shadows. The male keeps a wary eye on Max who eventually can't restrain himself and charges across the oval at full gallop, ears flying behind and pom-pom tail at half tilt, the pom-pom flailing backwards like the flag of some ancient Shinto warrior.
He is full of the joy of life and this is his life's favourite time.
The male magpie clicks his beak and all take off directly over Max who has been here many times before but he still visibly ducks his head as they pass over, before leaning into a turn that puts him on course for the futile chase that eventually leads to the lowest possible tree branch. Here the birds look down with disdain as he charges on, trying to say to anyone who is interested that he really wasn't chasing them anyway.

The pristine silver frost on the green grass is destroyed. There are now tracks – straight and curved – a skid here and there – across the shadow of the pines.

It is a wondrous morning.
But then aren't they all if you're alive to see them?

Along the linear park track beside the river there are the unmistakeable signs of the colours of new growth. The black ducks and the grebes are dreamily swimming along, pecking here and there at the floating skin of yellow wattle pollen, but the moorhens are in fighting mood. The mirrored surface of the water around the first bend is churned into ripples as they not-really-swim-and-not-really fly across the pool in spring's ritual chasing disputes.

The peace is further disturbed by a muted roar from the south.
Slowly, ever so slowly, above the horizon of the treetops rises the big grey Garuda bird.
How do they hang onto the frail air and appear to be so slow?
The roar becomes full volume, entirely dominating the local world.
It banks slightly to the right and takes up track that I imagine will lead it to Melbourne.

Mentally I join the happy throng of passengers.

Arranging personal items, checking out the earphones, the magazines, chatting and smiling, looking over their shoulder for the first sign of the Bintang trolley, tense but at peace knowing that at last they are really on their way to Bali. The interminable wait is ended.

From the Garuda bird that is barely distinguishable on the vertical fin my mind instantly bypasses Melbourne and leaps to the brilliant red and yellow colours of the Barong with its bulging white eyes and large round black pupils. The prince and princess appear, the evil Rangda and the cheeky monkeys. The monkeys leap into the trees of the forest, trees crowded together, tall – towering over the understorey of ferns – vines - grasses, cool and dark, green, the silver river flashing occasionally down in the depths of the valley.

The green of the trees mixes into the different green of the rice fields, chequered here and there with a patch of tan, brown, gold and black, shimmering silver occasionally with the reflection from water surfaces. There are strings criss-crossing the fields, waving with the agitated plastic bags tied along their lengths. They all centre on the small raised bale in the middle of the fields where two buffalo stand, heads down, and two men rest cross-legged, barely animated, Kreteks in rough, gnarled hands.

Black kites hover steadily in the same pale blue sky, slowly waving their tails from side to side. Ducks busily wash in the glinting stream that borders one side of the paddies, ducking as ducks do, sloshing their wings and arching their necks, shaking.

Beyond, in the distance, a row of coconut palms curves in an arc across the light blue sky.

From a red walled house with black thatch roof a cluster of immaculate children spill noisily, slicked black hair matching shiny black shoes, contrasting with glaring white shirts. Bicycles, hand carts, motorbikes impossibly loaded, cars and whining trucks piled with sand and building rubble compete for road space, passing within heart-stopping closeness to the children.


I see the colours and shapes of Bali all around me and Bali loudly calls, but I can't answer.

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