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Old Lady in the Balcony

Stunned by a ‘flying’ human

My view from the treetop is not always clear.

Through some dense foliage and the wind constantly snoring past my ears, it does not seem easy to observe precisely what is going on in the ground.

This time was a bit different as I was up this big tree amidst a retirement village.

It was not a standard block of apartments for older adults, though. It was something beyond that, with golden chains hanging on each door showing that they had the bucks. One penthouse at a reasonable size costs 1.4 million dollars — plush!

I cannot imagine myself buying something like that, knowing I may die ten years after securing it. Funnily enough, this is what the caretaker told me: you, I guess as part of your retirement, purchase a flashy apartment, get the essential services, enjoy the garden area, which is pretty, and then happen to die a few years later. Was it worthwhile? Then, the private sector of the retirement village sells your apartment to another party, take a percentage from it, and the cycle continues. Innovative business, isn’t it?

I do understand the profit concept behind it, though. There is a necessity for looking after older people, especially those with physical and mental disabilities. As a young chap, I always hoped that I did not get to that level. However, if you are old and have the money, why not? As long as you are happy to spend on something temporarily, it should be fine.

Coming back to the tree, I was close to reaching the top. I managed to shoot a line through a decent branch union that took me there in less than five minutes. Nowadays, our tree climbing techniques are well sophisticated. We do not struggle as much as we used to back in the days. As long as you have the right gear and a good idea, you are up a tree like a butterfly — smoothly flapping the wings, in this case, legs and arms.

Since I am at the top, a giant bird’s nest baffled me. I knew it was from a large bird but unknown, looking from underneath. It could potentially be of a magpie, and if so, I could get badly swoop if the eggs hatched. By the way, it is pretty unlikely as we just started the nesting season. As I went further up, I spotted four blue eggs. The nest had thick twigs well-arranged in circles, positioned only amid a natural crotch, perfect location for landing purposes. Considering it is right at the top and by size, it is a large bird but magpie.

Two minutes later, a razor-sharp noise like cutting paper called my attention, and this bright blackbird swooped over my head, far from hitting me, landing on the tip of the highest twig just above my pate. It was so fast that by a simple head turn, it was gone, flew away. Fortunately, I managed to spot the owner of that nest. It was an Australian raven. Beautiful and intelligent creatures. So bright that when they collect food, they tend to hide their belongings to avoid others to find it. They can remember precisely where they put it for later to consume the goods. They are hardly killed on roads or highways and can quickly determine a car’s speed at a distance to fly away for safety.

I am glad now that I know what that nest is, and I shall leave in peace. I was focused and determined to make that large tree look better than before. I could see from the treetop pretty much all the apartments of the entire retirement village. Some interesting ones and others too plain.

As I was descending through the canopy, I looked over a balcony facing the tree, and I spotted this old lady, co-moved with my presence nearby like a sizeable flying koala. She had trouble walking. I noticed she was curious and wanted to see me from her balcony, where the branches were overhanging a bit. I was on top of those branches, not far from her. I was pretty much above her head. She seemed stunned and probably had never seen that before.

She eventually walked out on the balcony, pulled the binoculars and managed to tilt her neck back and looked up with glaring eyes. As for me, I saw one teardrop and a slow, stretched smile that turned into almost a backwards fall as she lost her balance. I felt guilty because I looked at her and waved, but I knew she could not see me correctly. I was hiding like a bird perching on a branch and the bird watcher trying to catch my actions — almost impossible.

As I continued watching her moves, she soon went inside, probably tired of looking up and not knowing what to do. I thought the whole scene would be over, but I was wrong. Five minutes later, she grabbed her smartphone and tried to take a pic. She extended her arm with one hand holding it and the other working on zooming the photo. Her shakes made it challenging to find the best position. This time she was in front of a dining table. I guess a bit of a crash mat if she falls forward during her photo shooting effort.

The whole puzzle finished with a possible success, but I could not tell. I do not think it would ever make sense. She probably thought of a crazy dude up a tree, trimming ‘god knows what’, balancing on skinny branches, suspended by a rope, smiling at me and saying, ‘what the hell was that?’.

Either way, I hope it was a good experience for her because I enjoyed it so much that she tried hard to capture that moment. She pushed herself to use technology in her favour. She probably struggled a bit whilst figuring out how it works, though. Tough one, I guess.

I cannot imagine myself being old that way. Not yet. But she seemed happy with my occurrence while swinging next to her balcony and pruning that giant tree. At least, I came down with a smile on my face, willing to share the story with my peers. Who may guess she would have someone next to her window at such pandemonium times? Hopefully, she has her version to tell. I would love to hear one day.