The callistemons I planted when I moved here – trading septic life in a bush-block shack for a warm shower, a few bars on my phone – are over and above their first crimson flowering: festive season in a beige suburban year. Anaemic now, the tattered bristles fallen out or falling, combovers across the browning woodward fruit, secured by cobwebs. It ought to be enough, between words, paved walks, to sit distilled outside with the shrubs, clock them past exuberance, watch the spiders work them. It has to be enough: a little flame in the cave of seared grass, capeweed, bare dirt and rubble. Stay home. Don’t emit. Don’t be seen. Ecology, psychology, epidemiology: a Cerberus in my head. But after a decade of coastal scrub, superb fairy wrens rinsing my eyes as I stepped outside to piss, I ask me, how could a few store-bought shrubs suffice? So I resort to daydreams, maintain depressions. So I subscribe to several blue-lit streams. Google says it’s half a tank of fuel, a dozen glares and unwashed hands, to glimpse the nearest wedge-tailed eagle.