Look who I found outside my gate waiting patiently to come in.
I don't know how he got here.
It doesn't really matter. He is here.
Hopefully he will stay awhile.
Happiness is here, I just had to open the gate.
I wrote this in 2012 when Bud, as I know him, moved in.
Last weekend, when I was going stir crazy, I pulled on my gloves and got stuck into the front garden.
But Bud was nowhere to be seen.
My garden is my happy place but, in the past month or so, it has been left to do its wild thing while I try my best, like everyone else, to adjust to living and working differently.
I thought self-isolation would be easy. But, to be honest, I miss things such as sitting in a cafe with a coffee and the newspaper, meeting up with friends and taking part in the daily newsroom banter.
My job revolves around stories, so does my life. I love hearing and telling them. I think most people realise it's the seemingly little things and incidents in life that keep us ticking along. Those fleeting sights, sounds and happenings that stop our busy-ness just long enough to fill us with humble joy.
How Bud arrived at my gate is one of those little stories.
Back in 2012 I was going through a rough patch. I can't for the life of me remember what had upset me or what month it was. As with a lot of incidents in life, details such as where, when and why are forgotten.
The only thing that lingers is how you felt.
All I remember was that I was sad and had retreated to the garden. But, for some reason, my peaceful patch was not working its usual magic.
I sat defeated.
I think the tears had started, when a shaft of sunlight beaming through a distant gap in the fence caught my eye. It was an odd thing to catch my attention.
I stared at it for a while before realising that an object on the outside of the fence was blocking some of the light. I dismissed it as a bottle or other litter thrown from a car. But, that day, my mind wouldn't ignore it.
It wasn't having any of it.
I gave in, and dragged my disagreeable butt out to investigate. If it was another half-full can of Tooheys the whole neighbourhood was going to hear about it.
I opened the gate and saw a blob in the distance sitting against the fence.
As I got closer I saw his chubby little belly. Then I saw his smile.
It was no beer can. It was Buddha. A very happy one.
I suspected someone was taking the mick. But no one was around. I wondered if a neighbour was missing a garden ornament. But why would he be sitting, waiting against the fence?
I left him there for a few hours.
No one claimed him, so I brought him inside.
My happy little chap took centre stage in the garden for a few days, and, when I was confident he wasn't going to disappear, I named him Bud.
He's been with me ever since.
That's why, when I couldn't find him the other day, I got antsy.
Had Bud really left? In the middle of a genuine global crisis?
Should I call the Happy Police?
Then, after forging deep into my mosquito-riddled jungle, I glimpsed his bald noggin behind a wall of rogue marigolds that had forced their way through the gravel.
He greeted me with a smile.
"Hey Bud, glad you are back," I gushed.
He replied, all mystical-like: "I didn't go anywhere.
"You just had to look a bit harder you lazy cow."
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