Lynn Takayama

The colours of our bush life perfectly match this slow time of retirement.

A bright pink on a light shade of grey, or a pale lemon juxtaposed against a crisp white: these are colour combinations to touch the heart, and to see them on the wing of galahs and sulphur crested cockatoos adds enormously to my pleasure in those colours and this life here.

Galahs are the fighter jets of the bird world. The aerial displays that they mount can be awe-inspiring. A mob of 20 or so can make sudden turns in formation, up or down, left or right and at speed. It is a sight to behold. Cockatoos, on the other hand, are more akin to jumbo jets. They lumber along on a course set straight for their destination. They do sometimes alert the earthbound to their presence with their raucous squawk, a very unattractive feature of the bird.

The translucent white-grey of the sky just before the sun pokes its head over the eastern hill on cool, crisp early mornings: this is my favourite time of the day. The peace and quiet is broken only by the sounds of whichever birds are active around the yard at the time; the willie wagtails that seem to have taken up permanent residence here, the magpies that are always in territorial disputes with the noisy miners, and the miscellaneous other birds that come and go, depending on the season. We’ve had a scarlet robin in the yard for the past 10 days. To sit on the deck in the early morning enjoying this world with no reason to move, other than the desire for a caffeine hit, is one of the great joys of the retired life we live here.

The maroons, bronzes, reds and yellows of the leaves: these are the colours of autumn, which is upon us now. Although our deciduous trees are still holding on to their deep green leaves, the trees in town are starting to put on their spectacular annual show. This is a time to be adding to our woodpile in readiness for the cold nights and frozen mornings of winter with its own hues of sparkling frosty mornings that warm up to clear, bright, blue days.

The greyish brown of the stony creek frog: we have three living on our deck. We used to have four stony creek frogs, but one died — I can’t tell you how, it’s too horrifying. These frogs turn up in the most unexpected places. This morning, I sat down to enjoy the quiet and calm on one of our deck chairs, with its small head pillow. After a few minutes I became mentally immersed in the book I’m reading — some mind-enhancing, politicophilosophical tome... not! Then I felt something on my back. I moved slightly and felt something plop on the chair. Instantly alert, I sprang up out of the chair, wondering if there was a serpent sneaking around. Instead, I saw one of the little grey-brown frogs hop to the floor and then hop away. It had obviously been hiding under the pillow. I’ve found here that you never know when the next lurking surprise is going to take you from complacency to... somewhere else on the spectrum of mental states of being.

The bronze-red and creamy white of our 44 breeding cows: they have just finished a calving cycle and produced 40 live calves. The calves from this mob are all black with some white — known as black baldies. They’re black and white because the bull the cows were “joined to” — cowgirl jargon — is an Angus, which is a black breed of bovine.

Brownouts and blackouts: they occur frequently here. Our television viewing is brought to us through our dish from a satellite positioned miles above Broken Hill. When there’s a drop in voltage in the power supply, brownouts can occur for less than five seconds. However, when the supply is reconnected, the booting up of our receiver takes about two minutes. It’s very annoying when a brownout occurs at the crucial denouement stage of a murder mystery program.

The white of fluffy cotton balls: I mark the time in cotton balls here. I have a container of cotton balls in the bathroom, and I use one a day for various cosmetic ministrations. The container holds 25 cotton balls. Every day I notice the store going down and when I get to an empty container, I know that 25 days have passed. Oh, the joys of retirement, time going slow in this Shangri-La!