During construction work at the Camberwell market someone had dug a hole and left the dirt piled high in one corner. I noticed it as I bought my fruit and vegetables; in between the grit and grains of dirt there were tiny pieces of porcelain, buried for years that people could now reclaim.
I found a small cat, blue and white, a girl, like the pudding dolls from Christmas time, and a cracked donkey in grey china, each miniature a treasure.
I dug them out and put them aside on a shelf, beside the florist.
My husband distracted me. He was on his own adventure nearby. An archaeologist had planted a sword, not unlike my father’s army dress sword, in the bottom of another deep hole next to the market.
The archeologist planned to cover the sword in soil to establish the rate of metal degradation over time. My husband was fascinated. I was not.
When I returned to my treasure pile I found it had gone. Someone must have moved it.
I searched all over the market until out on the street I came upon a truck, whose driver had lifted the last shovel from my beautiful pile of dirt, poured it into the back of his truck and then drove off.
I was furious. Filled with a childish rage of helplessness. How could they do this and not only to me? There were others who had started their own collections of porcelain bits. Others left disappointed.
I woke from this dream still angry and my mind travelled back to my grandson the day before when he and I had explored the Melbourne museum.
They keep a few Australian native birds and fish in a mock forested environment in an outer enclosure there. A ramp enables visitors to walk to eye height with the top of the trees.
There on a lone gum tree we saw a young tawny frogmouth. He was asleep at first but then looked up and around in our direction.
‘Why is he angry?’ my grandson asked.
‘He’s not angry. He’s just curious,’ a nearby museum assistant said.
Owls have a way of looking angry all the time, those deep set eyes, that high brow.
This owl was not angry but after my dream I was as angry as any three-year old tricked into thinking her pile of treasure is safe only to discover someone has taken it away, without even asking.