We spent this Christmas on a farm on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, not far from the town of Taree.
It is the farm of my sister-in-law and her husband. It is a beautiful piece of countryside – about 40 hectares – surrounded by lush green meadows and groves of trees with the flat-topped mountains of the Coorabakh National Park a hazy blue in the background.
The farmhouse is not yet finished meaning the toilet and shower facilities are outdoors.
The toilet is a long-drop raised up on a wooden platform enclosed on three sides with a roof on top, affording the user with an unobstructed view of the meadows and blue-tinged hills in the distance.
I love the outdoors. The fresh smell in the air, the closeness to nature. Farm animals. Kookaburras and Rozellas in the trees. The general peace and quiet and distance from the mad rush of the city are all pleasing to my constitution.
But taking a crap in a make-shift loo in the great outdoors is not something I particularly enjoy.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a not a prude and I am not one of those people who can only enjoy nature from the vantage point of a five-star lodge (though that would be nice).
But when it comes to sitting on a raised bucket with my pants down, my bowels go into lock down and the best I can manage is a couple of short blasts of the trumpet (if you’ll allow the metaphor).
Then I pull up my pants and exit stage left.
During my stay on the farm, this fruitless exercise was repeated a number of times, with me marching off to the wooden raised toilet, toilet paper roll in hand, only to return to the farmhouse a few minutes later with the same length of toilet paper in hand.
Well after two days of Christmas eating – and in keeping with tradition I over ate – the bare facts of physics dictated that something had to shift.
So I trundled up towards the ‘gallows’, climbed the wooden steps, dropped my pants and took my seat on the throne.
I won’t go into detailed descriptions of facial expressions or sounds, but it was an ultimately successful exercise and as I sat back to enjoy the moment I noticed, off in the distance, two kangaroos facing me at the edge of the meadow.
They appeared to be watching me intently, face on, with their ears perked up and front legs resting on their chests.
I looked at the kangaroos.
They looked back at me.
We watched each other for a moment.
And then off they hopped, showing their distinctive body shapes in profile, their long tails curving upwards as they disappeared beyond the meadow, leaving me, pants still down at my ankles to enjoy the view entirely on my own.