Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)
TITLE: The Mystery of the Fallen Birdbath
By Kathie Thomas
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We’re experiencing a major drought – one of the worst our state has seen in a long time. We’re on stage three water restrictions which means we can only water between certain hours twice a week. The other days we collect the grey water from the dish washing in the kitchen, and water from cooking, and I take that out to the garden for watering. The roses are doing well, despite this very hot and dry weather but the other plants struggle and I do what I can to keep them going. Our local Christian radio station has our city praying for rain daily.
We have a birdbath underneath a large pine tree in our front garden. It’s not a solid heavy birdbath, but a lightweight one, of a small boy holding a bowl above his head. I’ve seen pigeons on some days taking a drink so I keep it topped up as I know the birdlife use it.
Some mornings I discover the birdbath knocked over and assumed it was one of our cats when out for the night. We have some native animal life too and I wondered if the cats had knocked it over chasing a possum or another cat.
Tonight I was out watering the garden in the semi dark. I finished the backyard and took the required trigger nozzle to the front, plugged it in and began watering. I’d pulled the hose out a distance so I could reach the far side and then turned around to start moving towards the house.
That’s when I saw it. A moving shadow in the pine tree above the birdbath. I walked closer to get a better look and saw a small grey possum with a white tipped ringtail. I moved further forward toward the birdbath realising I hadn’t filled it yet. The possum raced back up the tree and stayed at a distance watching me as I filled the birdbath. Perhaps he’d been watching me other nights and knew my routine but I was much later than usual tonight. I finished, and went back inside aware that the possum was inching back down again.
The main doors were open to let what breeze there was into the house and I could hear rustling in the trees outside. I slowly pulled the curtain at the front window open to look out at the pine tree and in the shadows I saw first one, then a second possum. But these were bigger and had brushy tails; their turn for a drink. I began to worry about how heavy they would be for the birdbath and that the water would be lost. Perhaps they were our mystery culprits and not the smaller possum I’d seen.
I looked in the back of my kitchen cupboard and found an old casserole dish that had long lost its lid. I filled the dish and opened the front door. It has a very loud creak to it. Normally we don’t mind the loud noise – it lets us know if anyone is coming in the front door, but on this occasion I was wishing it was much quieter. The possums tore up the tree and then onto the roof of the house.
I placed the dish under the pine tree on flat ground and I rocked it to make sure it wouldn’t move easily once the possums found it. Then I remembered that they also love apples so went back inside and cut one up and laid it on the ground beside the casserole dish.
Finally I could rest and get back to my beloved computer and my writing. I work at home and spend a lot of time at the computer. But I still couldn’t concentrate as my mind kept turning to those possums outside. Every noise I heard I imagined it was them back in the tree, reaching down to the birdbath. And then my husband and I heard a loud noise. We tore outside thinking that someone was in the garden, but instead we found the little boy birdbath, on its side, leaning against the casserole dish, and a large brush-tailed possum scurrying back up the pine tree. We definitely found our culprit and solved the mystery of the fallen birdbath. Now I can get back to my writing…….
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