Clicky

JIM AUBREY - NOVELS
Manuscript just completed and updated 24 August 2018 (website refresh applies): Little Anonymous & the Great Old Forest 
Excerpt - Little Anonymous & the Great Old Forest - part of Chapter 16 Platypus Burrow … The walk through the forest had been almost uneventful until someone had tripped over the root of a tree protruding across the track. A bandage was tenderly applied, with sympathy in equal measure, more so to stem the tears as there was hardly any blood. Eggshell fragility, thought Meg, but it touched her to the core of her being. Like the nearby running water of the picturesque creek, love was also the unfaltering spring of all life. Not only as a means of fertility but as the wholesale pure essence of being. This was no profundity — it was as simple as the adjacent eucalypts shedding leaves, as straightforward as a circle being round. ‘Can anyone tell me the quickest way to know if a habitat has any wildlife residents?’ asked Snowy to the curious young faces surrounding him. Sean really thought he knew the answer. ‘Set a trap, like me dad does.’ A smattering of shame-on-you remarks and gestures followed, and a kookaburra, unseen but somewhere nearby, gurgled the beginning of its signature tune. ‘We try not to invade their habitat or hurt them, Sean. Anyone else?’ ‘Look for habitat evidence, such as droppings or nests.’ There was no juvenile suspicion of self-doubt — Keira’s response was accurate and absolute. ‘That’s exactly right.’ Snowy quickly recovered from his disappointment. ‘Keira, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes.’ The knowledgeable old man and the knowledgeable schoolie simply smiled, both recalling the joy of many special moments at Kate’s recent dinner party. ‘Apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree,’ observed Meg. Nat welcomed the compliment while Kate drifted around, making the occasional note. The kookaburra’s gurgled alert once again petered out prematurely. ‘Strewth,’ exclaimed the old man, ‘that kooky’s been shadowing me the whole morning. Anyone know another name for a kookaburra?’ ‘Tick-tock, Bushman’s Clock!’ yelled Sean, hoping to recover his pride. ‘Yes, and —’ Snowy wasn’t able to complete his sentence. ‘Hardy-ha-ha, Laughing Jackass!’ announced Keira loudly while eyeballing her new rival. Sean seethed in anger and embarrassment while his classmates chuckled in delight. ‘Okay, that too. Moving on, if we all look over here,’ continued Snowy, taking several steps forward, ‘we can see evidence from which marsupial?’ He gazed at the droppings on the track. Sean’s eagerness to impress was secondary to his spiteful streak. ‘A feral cat! Her feral cat!’ he cried pointing at Melanie. The target of the boy’s malicious joke looked anything but amused. ‘It’s Koala poo from that Koala up there and you can give it all to him!’ Keira scornfully pointed at Sean. When the kookaburra tagged in with impeccable timing the group’s cackling escalated to a higher register. Eventually they looked away from the seething boy eating crow to the baby-doll Koala some twenty metres above, perched on one dizzy branch jutting out to nowhere. ‘Right again, on both counts. And I’d better be on my toes or this young lady will have my job.’ Snowy admired Keira’s pluck; he’d long had the craving to empty a 44-gallon drum of weed killer around the roots of Bill Fencer’s family tree. Getting to know Davy Forrest had tempered this urge — not everyone is the spitting image of the maker. Meg, however, saw the same thread of continuity. ‘And defender of justice. Ring a bell?’ ‘She’ll outdo me in spades,’ Nat replied. Many were puzzled, others disgusted, when Snowy picked up the Koala poo. ‘Who can tell me what “herbivorous” means?’ ‘Plant eating and not meat eating,’ answered Becky. ‘That’s right. Koalas are herbivores. They mainly feed on eucalyptus leaves, from which they get most of their protein and water requirements. On a good day, they can eat up to 500 grams of leaves. That’s a lot of leaves for a little fella and they don’t scoff it down like you lot do with your sausages and chips — they have a very slow metabolic rate to help them digest food gradually.’ Sean yawned loudly, without covering his mouth. Some children began to fidget, someone else said they just saw Sean’s kitchen sink. ‘Yes, well, they methodically chew each leaf to maximise protein absorption, which in turn is used for energy. But, this unusual digestive system, as well as the fact that a gum leaf diet isn’t the bee’s knees of dietary nutrition, means they sleep or rest around twenty hours a day. Imagine that, no playtime, no TV time. Just sleep time. And then, with bush fires and droughts and the loss of old growth forests, the food source is not always in abundant supply.’ ‘What a boring life!’ commented Sean. ‘Exciting compared to some,’ added Keira. Snowy still held on to the Koala poo. Knowing about the village’s recent events — the pool contest, and the snakes and dogs — he would reflect that evening on the friction between Keira and Sean and wonder whether the O’Faolain and Fencer tribes, in spite of the friendship between Keira and Becky, were forever fated to chafe against each other. ‘Well, at my age it’s sometimes difficult to sleep, so I kind of envy this fella above us.’ ‘If it is a fella,’ queried Keira. ‘Yes, quite right. A bit hard to tell from here. Anyway, the point is they only have approximately four hours for feeding sessions and other routines. They conserve water from the eucalyptus leaves, and their poo — which is actually called faecal pellets — is dry undigested leaf fibre.’ ‘Still looks like dried up shit to me.’ Sean’s peanut gallery assessment triggered the giggles. Meg zeroed in on the troublemaker. ‘Sean, language, please.’ ‘If you snap it in half, like this, you can smell the eucalyptus scent.’ Snowy took in a whiff of the distinctive perfume and then passed the broken pellet to Keira, who did likewise. Some schoolies, taking heart from Keira’s no- nonsense attitude, followed suit, but the others shrivelled up into histrionic expressions of absolute revulsion. The group was allowed to wander and explore around nearby rock pools some fifteen metres away. Dragonflies buzzed the flat surface of crystalline water and healthy native ferns flourished in wild abandon. The recent rains had been a boon for the creek and the towering Manna Gums and Candlebarks were well positioned to take full advantage of this good fortune. Nat and Kate stuck to their word and avoided contact with Keira. They were having fun. A no-frills, stress-free sort of fun. Even the school principal was able to ease back and observe a personal reflection or two about how a certain family gave her day an extra lift. Meg was momentarily appreciating these thoughts when Keira and Becky suddenly ran up to Snowy to tell him something. He looked excited and tailed after them to a location up the creek. Nat and Kate sensed the mood and followed along. All excursion activities ceased as everyone else cottoned on and did likewise. ‘Over there!’ reported Keira, indicating what looked like the entrance to a tunnel on the other side of the creek. The hole in the creek’s bank was just above the surface of a deep pool of water and partially hidden by vegetation. ‘Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Gotta be more than fifty years since the last one vanished.’ Snowy was over the moon. Meg had just joined them. ‘What is it?’ ‘These clever girls have found a platypus burrow.’
Manuscript just completed and updated 24 August 2018 (website refresh applies): Little Anonymous & the Great Old Forest 
Excerpt - Little Anonymous & the Great Old Forest - part of Chapter 16 Platypus Burrow … The walk through the forest had been almost uneventful until someone had tripped over the root of a tree protruding across the track. A bandage was tenderly applied, with sympathy in equal measure, more so to stem the tears as there was hardly any blood. Eggshell fragility, thought Meg, but it touched her to the core of her being. Like the nearby running water of the picturesque creek, love was also the unfaltering spring of all life. Not only as a means of fertility but as the wholesale pure essence of being. This was no profundity — it was as simple as the adjacent eucalypts shedding leaves, as straightforward as a circle being round. ‘Can anyone tell me the quickest way to know if a habitat has any wildlife residents?’ asked Snowy to the curious young faces surrounding him. Sean really thought he knew the answer. ‘Set a trap, like me dad does.’ A smattering of shame-on-you remarks and gestures followed, and a kookaburra, unseen but somewhere nearby, gurgled the beginning of its signature tune. ‘We try not to invade their habitat or hurt them, Sean. Anyone else?’ ‘Look for habitat evidence, such as droppings or nests.’ There was no juvenile suspicion of self-doubt — Keira’s response was accurate and absolute. ‘That’s exactly right.’ Snowy quickly recovered from his disappointment. ‘Keira, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes.’ The knowledgeable old man and the knowledgeable schoolie simply smiled, both recalling the joy of many special moments at Kate’s recent dinner party. ‘Apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree,’ observed Meg. Nat welcomed the compliment while Kate drifted around, making the occasional note. The kookaburra’s gurgled alert once again petered out prematurely. ‘Strewth,’ exclaimed the old man, ‘that kooky’s been shadowing me the whole morning. Anyone know another name for a kookaburra?’ ‘Tick-tock, Bushman’s Clock!’ yelled Sean, hoping to recover his pride. ‘Yes, and —’ Snowy wasn’t able to complete his sentence. ‘Hardy-ha-ha, Laughing Jackass!’ announced Keira loudly while eyeballing her new rival. Sean seethed in anger and embarrassment while his classmates chuckled in delight. ‘Okay, that too. Moving on, if we all look over here,’ continued Snowy, taking several steps forward, ‘we can see evidence from which marsupial?’ He gazed at the droppings on the track. Sean’s eagerness to impress was secondary to his spiteful streak. ‘A feral cat! Her feral cat!’ he cried pointing at Melanie. The target of the boy’s malicious joke looked anything but amused. ‘It’s Koala poo from that Koala up there and you can give it all to him!’ Keira scornfully pointed at Sean. When the kookaburra tagged in with impeccable timing the group’s cackling escalated to a higher register. Eventually they looked away from the seething boy eating crow to the baby-doll Koala some twenty metres above, perched on one dizzy branch jutting out to nowhere. ‘Right again, on both counts. And I’d better be on my toes or this young lady will have my job.’ Snowy admired Keira’s pluck; he’d long had the craving to empty a 44-gallon drum of weed killer around the roots of Bill Fencer’s family tree. Getting to know Davy Forrest had tempered this urge — not everyone is the spitting image of the maker. Meg, however, saw the same thread of continuity. ‘And defender of justice. Ring a bell?’ ‘She’ll outdo me in spades,’ Nat replied. Many were puzzled, others disgusted, when Snowy picked up the Koala poo. ‘Who can tell me what “herbivorous” means?’ ‘Plant eating and not meat eating,’ answered Becky. ‘That’s right. Koalas are herbivores. They mainly feed on eucalyptus leaves, from which they get most of their protein and water requirements. On a good day, they can eat up to 500 grams of leaves. That’s a lot of leaves for a little fella and they don’t scoff it down like you lot do with your sausages and chips — they have a very slow metabolic rate to help them digest food gradually.’ Sean yawned loudly, without covering his mouth. Some children began to fidget, someone else said they just saw Sean’s kitchen sink. ‘Yes, well, they methodically chew each leaf to maximise protein absorption, which in turn is used for energy. But, this unusual digestive system, as well as the fact that a gum leaf diet isn’t the bee’s knees of dietary nutrition, means they sleep or rest around twenty hours a day. Imagine that, no playtime, no TV time. Just sleep time. And then, with bush fires and droughts and the loss of old growth forests, the food source is not always in abundant supply.’ ‘What a boring life!’ commented Sean. ‘Exciting compared to some,’ added Keira. Snowy still held on to the Koala poo. Knowing about the village’s recent events — the pool contest, and the snakes and dogs — he would reflect that evening on the friction between Keira and Sean and wonder whether the O’Faolain and Fencer tribes, in spite of the friendship between Keira and Becky, were forever fated to chafe against each other. ‘Well, at my age it’s sometimes difficult to sleep, so I kind of envy this fella above us.’ ‘If it is a fella,’ queried Keira. ‘Yes, quite right. A bit hard to tell from here. Anyway, the point is they only have approximately four hours for feeding sessions and other routines. They conserve water from the eucalyptus leaves, and their poo — which is actually called faecal pellets — is dry undigested leaf fibre.’ ‘Still looks like dried up shit to me.’ Sean’s peanut gallery assessment triggered the giggles. Meg zeroed in on the troublemaker. ‘Sean, language, please.’ ‘If you snap it in half, like this, you can smell the eucalyptus scent.’ Snowy took in a whiff of the distinctive perfume and then passed the broken pellet to Keira, who did likewise. Some schoolies, taking heart from Keira’s no-nonsense attitude, followed suit, but the others shrivelled up into histrionic expressions of absolute revulsion. The group was allowed to wander and explore around nearby rock pools some fifteen metres away. Dragonflies buzzed the flat surface of crystalline water and healthy native ferns flourished in wild abandon. The recent rains had been a boon for the creek and the towering Manna Gums and Candlebarks were well positioned to take full advantage of this good fortune. Nat and Kate stuck to their word and avoided contact with Keira. They were having fun. A no-frills, stress-free sort of fun. Even the school principal was able to ease back and observe a personal reflection or two about how a certain family gave her day an extra lift. Meg was momentarily appreciating these thoughts when Keira and Becky suddenly ran up to Snowy to tell him something. He looked excited and tailed after them to a location up the creek. Nat and Kate sensed the mood and followed along. All excursion activities ceased as everyone else cottoned on and did likewise. ‘Over there!’ reported Keira, indicating what looked like the entrance to a tunnel on the other side of the creek. The hole in the creek’s bank was just above the surface of a deep pool of water and partially hidden by vegetation. ‘Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Gotta be more than fifty years since the last one vanished.’ Snowy was over the moon. Meg had just joined them. ‘What is it?’ ‘These clever girls have found a platypus burrow.’
JIM AUBREY - NOVELS