The Boss loses me, fairly often, when I think about it - this last week he's been rattling on about the first wattles, as if it matters.
Wattles come and wattles go, so far as I can see but he mumbles about them on our morning walk as if it's interesting.
"Look at 'em, General," he says. "Eager to get out, looking for a spot of sunshine."
Well, who isn't? But you can't worry about it. There's more to do - balls to fetch, sticks to retrieve, food to eat, Ibis poo to roll in. And the odd wallaby to chase. Not to mention the hares, although they embarrass me a bit. They're quick alright. And they lie low until the last moment too, you don't even know they're there. Somehow they keep their scent out of nose, so to speak - then, when you get too close, they erupt out of the grass and take off.
Anyway, the Boss had me down on Yarra Bend last weekend for a special event - the young missus was getting crowned or something - and I was minding my own business when he pointed to these wattles. "First ones I've seen," he says. "A smidge earlier than home on the Goulburn. Must be the frost holding us back."
I had to humour him, so there you go. Anyway, we get home and, sure enough, he's on it all again. They're just out. But it's pretty pathetic, in my view. Here's my Mum, Queenie, looking like she's interested in the first wattles:
These are Silver Wattles, so the Boss says. Arcadia Dealbata. A tallish sort of wattle, endemic to the Goulburn floodplain.
It's not just the wattle trees, as it turns out.
What he really hankers for is a high river in August - not one of those half-hearted environmental flows but a proper flood, high enough to drag the wattles off the trees. That's when you get the dinghy out, he says, and head downriver for a look around - maybe a little fire on the bank somewhere and cook up a sausage or two. I don't mind that myself - the Boss always keeps an oily tit-bit at the end for a faithful hound like me. (If he doesn't, I just go lick clean his barbie hot plate when it's cool enough, which drives the missus crazy.)
The Boss doesn't reckon any flood will happen this year. Too dry. Dry up north, dry enough down here. He's not sure how many wattle rivers he has left, he reckons. When the the river is a vast, drifting carpet of wattles washed down by the flood, gleaming in the afternoon light.
"You can't take it for granted, General," he says. "You might only get a few wattle rivers in your life."
"It's like that big, fat, orange harvest moon," he says. -"You see a couple of them when you're growing up and after that take them for granted, like they'll keep happening forever. But over your life, it's not that often you're in a good place to see them. Most people can probably count the big orange moons they've seen on one hand."
Maybe there's more to wattle rivers and big orange moons than I think. But for the moment, I reckon I'll stick with balls and a chunk of warm sausage. Woof.