Something that has repeatedly happened to me since I was a child is this: Just moments before sighting a wild animal, I will think about that animal. I have encountered several snakes, an owl, a scorpion, crocodiles, rats, monkeys and something I still haven’t been able to identify (it was following the sailboat at night. It was as long as the sailboat…)
Examples? I was sitting at a picnic table, writing, and the image of a scorpion entered my head. Idly, I’d bend over to scratch a mosquito bite on my leg and, glancing at the ground, would see the scorpion, a few inches from my feet. Several times I have thought of snakes, and looked up, or down at the path before my feet, to spot one right away (one of those times, it was a python, and not outdoors or anything…it was slithering over the top of the books on my desk, right in front of me!)
Today, as I was flipping through my library of photographs in iPhoto, I stopped to look at some (rather washed-out and over-exposed) shots of crocodiles that I have spotted near our houseboat. I reflected that I hadn’t seen a crocodile lurking around Sadgroves Creek in over 5 months, and thought it was about time one made its appearance. We have a reputation (“crocodile infested Darwin,” remember? It’s on my About page) to uphold! Because of the past occurrences, I even said to myself, “Bet it’s out there, now…”
A bit later I got up to roll a cigarette, went to open a window, and there was the croc…right next to our boat, floating brazenly on the surface for everyone to see, and it was directly below my window. It was not such a tiny baby crocodile, either…this one was pretty darn big for Darwin Harbour (there are traps everywhere; the authorities try to keep the city’s harbour relatively croc-free.) At the sound of the window banging open it raised its head just a little, and I swear to God it looked me straight in the eye. Then it hunkered down in the water, made itself a little less obvious, turned around and made off past a neighbouring boat and off into the distance.
I was left musing over whether my crocodilian thoughts had summoned this crocodile from somewhere? Had I perhaps conjured it out of thin air? Or whether my thoughts were simply a response to the crocodile’s thoughts about me? “Come to the window, lovey, I’m waiting just outside! Hey! Hi, there! Have you still got that fat orange cat?”
If these encounters with scorpions and large reptiles were real, was I the summoner, or the summoned? Or, if they were figments of an overactive imagination, were they my imaginings? Or was I theirs?