Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 29 
Peppermint and Fencepost:
(extract from a work in progress)
by Uli Krahn
Photo: Ray Drew
Peppermint had noticed that his tail or his hindlegs often stuck out of the pouch these days. Also, it seemed to take forever now to get settled. That was weird, after all the pouch was the comfiest place Peppermint knew. When he climbed in, he had to crick his neck and then just when he thought he had it right, his tail would flip out again. Or he’d try to somersault over like he always did, and get stuck half-way, so he had to kick and push to get out of this awkward position. He tried to think what he’d done about this in the past, but he just couldn’t remember. His mum only gave him a funny sad look when he asked, and told him not to worry about it.
‘You’re getting too big for the pouch’, she said. That didn’t make sense to Peppermint. He had always been in the pouch. How could he suddenly be too big? And then what?
Peppermint found out a few days later. Startled by a pair of kookaburras making a racket nearby, he went for the pouch. But there was none. In the place of the opening was tight skin, and his mum didn’t lean forward like she usually did, to let him in. He screamed a little and scratched at her neck and belly. When she didn’t respond, he pushed his head where the pouch should be. She stood for a while like he wasn’t there. Panic flooded through Peppermint. He pressed his head hard into Wattle’s belly. That made things a little better. He felt his mum’s paws on his head and shoulders, which was soothing. After a long time standing and sobbing into his mum’s fur, he stood back and breathed the fragrant evening air. His mum looked at him.
‘Let’s play a new game. You’ll like it.’ He looked at her doubtfully. ‘You will.’
Suddenly she turned and hopped a few skips away.
‘Catch me’, she called out in her most inviting voice. Peppermint wasn’t so sure.
‘Come on, it’s a big boy game. You’ll like it.’
She hopped a bit further, and called out some more. Uncertainly, he followed. But she didn’t just stand there and waited, like when he came for the pouch. She hopped on. At first he found that upsetting. Yet something felt right coming after her like that. The hopping was nicer than hopping by himself, it was as if she was pulling him behind. Like when he’d followed Fencepost in a panic, but without the panic. He didn’t need to think or even look where he was going, only enjoy the bounce and keep his tail straight. This felt good. He did feel like a big roo now, like he’d never properly hopped before. Certainly not this fast, and not with this rhythm. It made him feel alive from his ears to the tip of his tail. He nearly bumped into Wattle when she stopped.
‘Why aren’t we going on?’
‘Time for a rest or your feet will be sore tomorrow.’
‘My feet are fine’, Peppermint lied. They felt hot and a little scraped.
‘Also you might like some milk now.’ That was an argument. Peppermint was always hungry. Also, he was very glad to hear that the milk was still there. He had a big drink, and then just kept his head in the pouch. So much had happened today. It was tempting to try climbing in, but he suspected it wouldn’t be allowed, so he just stood there, feeling full and safe. After a long while, his mum gently took his face in her claws and lifted it up.
‘Let’s hop under that tree and have a little rest.’ Even though it was evening and they’d only recently woken, this seemed a nice idea. Wattle led Peppermint to a thick pile of leaves and lay down on her side. He cuddled up right next to her, so she could groom his fur. Soon he was dozing. When he woke, the first stars were out, and the mob was all around them. Peppermint jumped up. He felt ready for the next adventure. His foot pads were only the slightest bit tender.
Find out about Uli Krahn at Day 8