We’ve had a bit of rain up here lately, days of it, river towns submerged, cars cattle and horses lost. People lost. Mud everywhere.
Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach is covered with timber. Trees washed downstream piled ten feet high and the stink of the thousands of dead fish decomposing amongst their dead roots and branches is overpowering except for the bloke on his hands and knees halfway down. He’s digging a hole, must have tissue paper clogging up his nostrils not to notice the smell..
He’s all alone on a deserted beach covered with old timber, rubbish and dead fish and he’s digging a deep hole in the sand. Caution says avoid. Curiosity says have a squiz, might be something in it.
Twenty feet away now and he gets up, bends over and picks up a small bag he’s placed by the hole, unzips the front and allows a ferret to climb out and onto is arm before putting the bag back onto the sand. Then he drops the ferret into the hole he’s just dug.
Ten feet away now. He doesn’t know I’m closing in, too busy watching his ferret.
Five feet. Now I can see it’s not a hole he’s dug but an intricate maze of tunnelways in the sand, like an interlinked highway overpass and the ferret is in there somewhere doing something either by design or instinct but I’m not about to interrupt this bloke’s routine and ask because what I’m watching here is about the strangest thing I’ve ever seen anyone doing on a beach.
I now understand the term in English, ‘ferreting around’.
All I know about ferrets is that they whip up inside your trousered leg and bite the first thing that gets in their way.