Coming home at midnight one weekend night, there was something sitting in the middle of the road. With no streetlights, you couldn't tell what it was. It was simply a dark lump on the crest of the road. Closer you could see pointed ears. Was it a large hare or a wallaby or something else? Then there it was, clearly a wallaby -- very small and watching the headlights approaching.
It's not an easy hill on which to stop. Actually, it's easy to stop but hard to restart on the angled gravel. But we stopped to see what the wallaby would do. It shuffled off to the left and Mr Blithe let out the handbrake and started. Then suddenly it bounded across the front of the car, small enough that it was hard to see over the bonnet. Where was it going? Was there any way to avoid hitting it? What about all the neighbourhood dogs?
There was a zig then a zag then it saw the way clear. Straight down the centre of the road.
We followed slowly, its dark marked hind legs comical in their gait as it bobbed down the road ahead of us. Past one neighbour then our driveway. It could keep going and we'd turn. We thought it had escaped but no, it veered onto the dark ribbon of tarmac leading up our hill. We hadn't taken the incline so slowly since getting the driveway sealed. What would the wallaby do? Would it head right over the gardens, through a fence and into the freedom of the back paddocks? Would it chuck a u-turn and head downhill for the road and the more distant fields? What about the lush paddock to the immediate left? It offered shelter and safety.
But no, it led us right up the driveway and paused next to our pitiful attempt at a bottlebrush hedge. We stopped the car and cautiously unloaded sleeping children. Would it want to come home with us? No. It waited just beyond the circle of light cast by the front light. Teeth were brushed, sleepy children tucked into bed and we ourselves staggered towards bed. Hopefully the wallaby did too.