I inhabit a category of farmer mind state, of constant fret about arbitrary birds bent on devouring the fruit. I start and finish each day amongst the nets in a dance of disturbed scrutiny. I'm on hyper-alert, prowling with perked ears, watching for telltale rips, skeins of mending cord at the ready. I'm almost muttering to myself.
There's new roo poo too! Then "pow! slap! thunk!" - I've startled a golden male, who explodes out from handy shelter at junction of two nets. I give chase through scrub and up rows of new plantings whose leaves I notice he's munched on, in full pursuit until he lopes out through the open gate. I'm scolding him as I go and at the same time I am outside of myself, outside of this scene and the very dilemma of losing fruit to animals I revere. I'm going through the motions but am not attached in the slightest. What has happened to me? What is going on here?
I catch a green flicker of silvereye in the new cabernet block. I duck under billows of white and stalk him along columns of pendant blue fruit. He has flown into a pocket and has snared himself, a rapid fluttering of wing against net. I gently encircle his quadrant of white mesh and he settles at my touch. Unrolling the net with great care, I snatch him, a mere puff of life, pulsing in my bare hand. He is a hot soft pocket of rapid heartbeat. With a tiny explosive dash of olive flush he slips into the trees.
I trudge home in the dying light, fully convinced he will tell all the birds of my mercy, thus ending the deluge of invaders forever. I fancy myself some sort of St Francis until I sit down to roast chicken dinner.
Next morning I release three more silvereyes and a honeyeater and stitch six tears before the sun dries the dew. Please harvest, come soon and end this chapter of fret.