Wish upon a ‘shooting’ star

All about luck

Early summer and it’s a pre-dawn start to beat the daytime heat. Heavy cloud cover breaks now and then to reveal a star-studded sky. Here at home the atmosphere is clean and clear, so a shooting star streaking from left to right draws my eye. It’s beautiful and possibly a sign of things to come.

Outdoors the air feels hot and heavy. I can sense a storm brewing. The pair of swallows, which nest outside the kitchen window, already flit and twitter. Further out, atop an old man pine, a magpie has been kamoodling to serenade the dull glow of a distant dawn.

Across the river and uttering up his very last few whoo-whoos is a morepork. He’s running late this morning. As am I. The swallows are good omens but the magpie is a bad omen and some say, the morepork is a harbinger of death. So, will it be a good day, a bad day or a combination of both? Or are omens superstition and luck a load of bollocks?

Out the door then, ensuring there’s ammunition aplenty in my hunting pouch along with my lucky dollar. Not that I can utilise money up here. I live rural, remote and from here it’s still another 13 kilometres to the locked gate. Then seven kilometres from there to Spot X. Will lucky number seven counteract unlucky thirteen?

As planet Earth rotates on its axis, the new day evicts all trace of night. Huge clouds pile atop one another, their heavy black bellies bumping together like sumo wrestlers vying for superiority.

A pig, all ribs and hips and rows of tits, gallops across the track. Her bristle-tipped tail is held out at half-mast, signalling to me she’s giving 100 percent in her effort to escape unharmed. Moments later, four pot-bellied wormridden suckers follow her.

Then, three creek-crossings later, I saw a black cat. It nonchalantly licks a paw, before glaring at me with fierce yellow eyes. As I drive closer it reluctantly leaves its fishing spot and stalks across the track before merging into the vegetation.

Do five lucky pigs counteract the black cat crossing my path?

Finally, I’m at Spot X. The rain and I arrive at the same time. Small fat drops increase in intensity, saturating me as I ready my hunting gear. To give myself an extra edge, I pull my husband’s well-worn tee shirt over my own. I don’t know what it is about that man, but Lady Luck seems to ride his shoulder and optimistically cheer his every move.

As the rain beats a rapid pitter-patter, I wade the last ford on-foot and there, embedded in the bank and exposed after recent flooding is a rusty old horseshoe. What’s its story? Did it once belong to a long-dead drover’s pack horse or to a more recent trail rider’s hack?

I carefully lay the horseshoe beside the creek, intending to pick it up on my return.

Then I walk, zigging and zagging, hair-pin bend to hair-pin bend towards the skyline.

Then Mother Nature stages a show. The skies darken perceptibly and the fatbellied clouds clash breast against breast. Mighty thunderclaps boom and roll back and forward. The air is charged with electricity, lightning bolts crack and frizzle through the moistureladen air. Good show!

It gets darker, and louder. Directly above me the clouds brawl, they roll and wrestle and rumble. The thunder makes my ears crackle. Nature’s show is better than good—it is magnificent.

Deer stalking has been forgotten. I would rather be right here, right now, with rivulets of sweat-tainted water running down my smiling face. Here with my husband’s sodden tee shirt over my sodden tee shirt. I can smell him and me. I can smell freshly cleansed vegetation and wet soil too.

The cloud-burst rain event eases then ceases. A lone shaft of sunlight pierces the gloom, its summer warmth spawning tendrils of steamy mist. Dull grey hues brighten to various shades of green and gold and there, his rich red coat saturated and his tall velvet antlers sparkling with silverspangled rain residue, is a feeding stag.

The stag catches a glimpse of bedraggled me—curious, he turns broadside—that is lucky.

A standing free-hand shot is necessary. The rifle barrel wavers slightly, scope crosshairs wander left and right before a pause. Then the shot is true.

The stag leaps high then bolts towards the zig below this zag. He is dead on his feet but every metre he travels closer to my truck is one I don’t have to make with him in-tow. I am grateful. That wish upon the falling star earlier this morning is outliving all my expectations in every respect—that too, is lucky.

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