In the forest, 2016
‘What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?’ ‘Thoreau
A bifurcated attention sets the camera to macro-zoom and collects
intimacies, the pink mushroom, a corner nibbled, ribbons of Blackbutt
torn down by yesterday’s mini typhoon, beautiful hues scored
by larvae of the scribbly gum moth, simple drawings, wavy lines
with a contemporary elegance. Then there’s the weather carved stumps,
largely buried forms, reminders processing lichens, fungi, mosses.
The past scatters even as we breathe. An archaeology surfaces
from the old farm, links of chain and sliding barbed wire
guiding vines with memories of the floating blue shine,
they gloss fissured, tessellated, smooth, flaking, gilded, wounded trunks
unfolding green bunting high above their solitary stalks.
The camera is attached to the formal qualities of the bush
wonderfully modelled trunks, often simplifying a taxonomic
approach until my gaze reaches the nude Gothic branches
when I feel remiss at neglecting living acts, the butterflies,
flowers, open-ended suites of unscientific environmental surveys
but we must be trust in our nature – Homo Aestheticus and Homo Artifex.
I catch a Sacred Kingfisher calling, invisibly, comment on
strumming high in the canopy, a few small cicadas filled with life.
The voice of the forest is patience. Eastern Yellow Robins
and Grey Fantails happily breaking cover to feed around us,
below paper wasps tending their hexagonal cells, blue flowers
are hiding beneath leaves, Patersonia, no, the other, name on the tip of . . .
Everything you can see has a name – and owns two names here,
apart from the binomial, the Gumbaynggirr, many lost, many working.
I should have learnt all this by heart, but that’s impossible.
Waterlilies only arrived here two years ago, they are spiking pale blue
flowers in turbid Oyster Creek between fallen timbers, the creek’s
anarchic furniture with luxurious leafy 3-D wallpaper. Crossing
the low wooden bridge sets off a thrashing of water, loud as a croc,
a dragon panicked, taken by surprise, making us jump too.
The architecture as complex as a metropolis, the track reaches the railway
East Coast single line, I spot a male Swamp Wallaby eating,
first one seen since a female in our garden weeks ago. He looks up,
ears revolving like radar then jumps back into the bush
a rerwarding glimpse worth celebrating.