The Lake at the End of Summer
A movie is interrupted by a call from mum beside a lake under marri trees exultant at the full moon rising over the water stuffed with birds there must be thousands of them she shouts - an ornithologist would go mad. It’s the end of the hottest summer on record municipal engineers have raised the lake with ingenious weirs saving endangered species of waders migrating from Asia the water ripples around their long, spindly legs she has called from her folding chair beside the caravan under the Djeran moon to tell me this the eucalypts surrounding her like a shawl as the feathers drift to shore. It’s nice to know that somewhere nature is happy and mothers are happy and engineers can get it right I walk outside with the phone at my ear and see the same full moon rising over the asbestos fence there must be thousands of houses stuffed into this suburb an anthropologist would go mad. At the end of the hottest summer on record I am stuck in a city like a cage stuffed with birds where social engineers use ingenious algorithms to control viruses migrating across the globe there are supply chain breakdowns and angry mobs rattling the cage. I tell her to take a photo and put it on Facebook so that everyone can see from the comfort of their cages the moon like a jewel the project in fruition the migration to the future the flapping wings and shining beaks the rising water the changing seasons the fresh mud full of prints and make five million likes next to mum beside the lake at the end of summer.
The science inspiring the piece:
I have been involved for 30 years in bushland regeneration, particularly around the wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain in WA, a passion I share with my mother who has also invested in community purchases of valuable habitat properties. One of these is Lake Mealup near the Peel-Harvey Estuary, one of the largest freshwater lakes left on the Plain, and recognised in the Ramsar Agreement as essential habitat for migratory wading birds from Japan and Siberia. Her group recently funded the construction of a weir to maintain water levels in the lake over summer, the success of which is
celebrated in this poem.