He came back today. It’s been months since he visited, and I’ve often wondered how he was faring.
I was sweeping the veranda – an endless and often futile task, thanks to the enormous eucalyptus trees in my front garden – when the sound of beating wings made me turn around. There he was, a tiny red palm fruit berry in his beak, bright eyes watching me as I wielded the broom.
‘Well, hello there. It’s been a while!’ I smiled, and he dropped the berry at my feet – a gift designed to encourage a reciprocal offering.
Reaching through the front door to the hall stand, I retrieved the packet of dried mealworms I keep for visitors of the feathered variety. (Humans seem less enthusiastic about them, for reasons I've yet to discover.) At any rate, I know he’s not fond of them either, despite their nutritional value, and he gave me an old-fashioned look before turning his back on the desiccated pile.
‘Okay, okay. Cheese it is!’
I capitulated and headed into the kitchen, emerging a minute later with a container of cheddar. Breaking off some tiny crumbs, I approached and placed them carefully on the veranda rail.
‘You can’t have much,’ I cautioned him. ‘Cheese isn’t great for your digestion. It’s just a small treat … but you know that, anyway.’
He regarded me for a moment, then stepped forward and grabbed his prize. I returned to the kitchen and when I looked out the window, he’d flown away.
But later, when I ventured back onto the veranda to watch the kangaroos, I found the little red berry, lying where he had left it on the deck - a memento of a strange, interspecies friendship.