I’m living in a war zone.
I recently drove from my home in SW Sydney to country Victoria. Along the Hume Motorway, the major transport corridor between Sydney and Melbourne.
Hundreds of semi-trailers and V-doubles move along the road each day , families and business people, traders and travellers. Double lanes, dual highway snakes and then stretches out through the landscape, bypassing towns . Traveler stops and multinational feeding stations providing the high fat/sugar meals we crave as we hurdle across the country on our important business.
It’s a death littered journey. Victims to our invasion of their country line the road, sentinels to our passing trade.
Every kilometer Kangaroos dead on the roadside , taken out by high speed transporters, so many I give up counting. There were wombat, echidna, fox, possum and lizard – a children’s story book of characters. Birds too fall victim to the road, raven, magpie ,cockatoo , galah , gang-gang and eagle.
In places the road is red with the veneer of flattened roo, or bird. I feel sick. In others there is just a mangled pile of fur . We are traveling too fast to stop and clear the road and eventually they too will be mashed into the tarmcack and washed away by rain -forgotten.
I recall a trip between Tamworth and Bingara a couple of years ago when I pulled 18 Kangaroos from the roadside in 160 kilometers . I hate to see bodies being mashed to a pulp by passing vehicles.
Off the highway a shower of feathers as the car in front hits a galah.
“Idiot?” i shout to noone.
I stop the car and walk back along the road. The world is silent without cars. Ravens call. I pick up the bird still warm from life and place it away from the verge. As i turn a car stops and the blokey driver leans across and asks “is it alive? ”
“No” I shake my head.
“I could have taken it to a vet in town if it was alive” he offered.
We both shake our heads and move on.
Allies! I recall the galah’s one red tear and wonder how it’s mate is.
From time to time there is a vehicle up-turned and taped beside the road, evidence of human casualty in this war.
It’s a long weekend I’m traveling. I consider what the road would look like if the local council protrolls didn’t come along to collect the fallen. Would the roadsides be piled high with carnage and the stench of death be the aroma that followed us down the road?
Back home the tree munchers are at work. Each week we witness a couple of hours of tree crunching as another of the huge trees is munched to pulp. The wood chipper shouts out across the suburb. Screaming it’s superiority and ability to destroy a huge tree and all that lives in it in less than an hour.
The magpies and ravens have lost their homes. They circle around – their territories disturbed. I revel in the magpie family that has taken up in the trees near me and pray nobody decides to take them down.
My father’s cleaner tells him how a wagtail nest was lost when her neighbor cut down a tree unthinking. The community is aghast and nobody really understands or can give a reason why these huge trees, some pre-white invasion suddenly need to go.
I realize I have a new sort of anxiety about me as i scan the suburb , watchful and vigilant for the next tree to go. Fearful for the sound of wood-chippers and chain saws.
Pesticide spraying vehicles cruise our suburban streets, the council weed killer patrol walks by.
We are at war with nature .
This is not how I wish to live .