Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
I remember looking for yabbies in the reeds at the edge of the dam overflow, gasping at the chill, flinching in anticipation of the nip of a questing claw, feeling my footing slide away as we move from reedy creek to raw clay bank. I inhale the special ancient-water smell of reeds growing in black mud.
My heartbeats push warm blood into cold hands and feet. Turning around to look, I see my two small sisters following me into danger. And my mother is on her way down the paddock to check that we are not playing in the forbidden area.
The deep water reproaches and threatens. The mullock wall invites risk. But the sun and warm air on skin are reassuring. I tell myself "we are not really playing in the dam" and at the same time I know we are.
Hawks circle far above, in blue sky that has no interest in us. My mother follows our footprints in the mud—"I know where you went. . . ."
I understand what my mother was thinking. But I wish she hadn't instilled the fear of the not-yet-known into my bones so that even today I panic about being overcome by whatever is under the deceptive warm current of the surface.
found in river and dam
wears 'water colours' . . .
but for the home tank
is bred a neon blue
The common yabby is an Australian freshwater crustacean that is similar to a shrimp and variable in colour.
Mullock refers to a bank of excavated earth.