THE AUSTRALIAN EMU
While employed as a governess to the children of the Ranger’s family in the Gammon Ranges, South Australia, I spent my lunch breaks in the surrounding bushland. During one such break, I heard a bonking sound that I recognized as the voice of the Emu. Crouching closer into the Wattle bush and pretending the ants were not crawling all over my shoes, I peered through the leaves. About ten paces in front of me was the Ranger Stations boundary fence; the sound came from that direction. Not able to ignore the ants, I slowly and silently pulled my socks up, over my jeans. Doing this purely by feel makes for sore legs that just want to give in to gravity, but I could not let that happen. Any noise would see me looking at the rear feathers of the handsome bird as he ran away. The Emu cannot fly, he runs in stead!Before I returned home in the South, I spoke with the Ranger and he said he would let me know what eventuated. He told me it was a male Emu, that returned every eighteen months or so. Nobody ‘owned’ him. When I returned home, I contacted our local Emu farmer for more information and this story is the result.
The Emu I called Emund; our Brave, dedicated Australian Single Dad. I knew he would eventually have a name, but he would never hear it.
Nature’s Single Dad:
The Australian Emu : The first 55 days
Emund is busy preparing his dance-floor for partners who’ll put him to the test.
His pedigree line has proven with time
that it is now his turn, to be best.
He hears them emerge from the bush as they gather in answer to nature’s call.
They dance, and then go away, they know they cannot stay;
there is not enough food for them all.
They dip and they weave as they mingle together knowing that each has a chance
With his reputation, there is no hesitation;
he is ready to join in the dance.
‘Bonk! Bonk,’ comes the sound of another arrival, ‘It’s Emulena!’ he says with a grin.
Others move to the side as he leaves them mid-stride
to greet this dancer as she flounces in.
With sensuous, rhythmic movement of hips she fluffs up her boa, it bounces in time.
He matches her mood. His movements are smooth
as they twist and twirl in their dancing mime.
He does not fuss about who takes the lead, he follows and their dance now is ending.
With steps that are light he glides to the right,
he meets her, bows deeply, head bending.
Emulena says, “Sorry, we cannot stay longer, we all must find paddocks anew.
It matters not whether we all stay together,
we trust you to know what to do.”
As she speaks, they deposit their gifts, and he hears, as in chorus they say,
“We know you’ll do magically, what you do naturally
to deliver these in your own way.”
After completing her task, Emulena stands tall and she fluffs up her feathers once more.
They follow her lead in twos, and in threes,
and promenade across the dance floor.
Left all alone, he goes back to his duties and looks closely at each pale green shell.
He checks all for defects. He sees they are perfect,
so with care he covers every one well.
He sticks to his task for fifty-five days in sunshine, strong winds and some showers.
He values each treasure and tends them with pleasure
as he, turns each egg every three hours.
Through his long lashes he sees danger coming. He drops his neck down like a log.
Feathers flying on high and red fur prowls near-by;
he needs to fool both bird and dog.
The shells have now turned a dark bluey green, there’s an infertile egg in the batch.
This egg will be food for his hungry brood;
but he won’t eat or drink, ‘til they hatch.
Each day he looks up, and turns his head to the sun as it rises each morning.
He’ll sit day and night until the time’s right.
He knows, that time comes without warning.
to be continued...