The colours of an October week

19 Oct

Native Orchid, Phaius tankervilleae and Japanese Iris

A solid sky dims the light. Time barters gardening, emails, news, writing, eating, not much else so far, not enough to fit inside a decent sized poem.

The magpie ignores the huge bird, so loud Wyn comes rushing up, A jet fighter has swooped overhead, noisy as hell, the house shakes and when it’s sore-throat-roar finally exhales, the Pied Butcherbirds’s music of grace can be heard again in the rain.

Elsewhere, soundwaves are rupturing the skies over Ukraine, Tigray, Syria and and . . . and apathy waits . . . as if tomorrow really will be a new day.

Black Cockatoos wheel overhead under lead skies screeching, install themselves in the tallest Blackbutts corralling the house and grind out a tangled noise.

My mother is waiting with her exhausted life, missing so many people she has loved, waiting for the carer, waiting to take her pills, waiting for my phone call. I wait for the time difference, night and day.

20 Oct

Osprey fishing the Nyambaga (Nambucca)


Rivers guide the world, they began the human journey. Rain chimes on the edge. I take a few shots of gentle light and a Sooty Oystercatcher preening distance – nothing to create a photograph.

I holster the camera and look along the Nyambaga to the heads – relax my shoulders, empty focus, breathe deeply, consciously.

An Osprey dives right in front, eyes snap onto the weaponised talons, feet first punching a crystal fountain . . .

I fiddle with the contraption, miss most of the action. Heavy wingbeats work wet feathers to break the surface tension and abscond from gravity. I often wish I forgot my camera.


Blue-Tongue Skink

Before we left, friends show us a gift we gave them, Phaius tankervilleae flowering, with pride of place inside the small knocked-up orchid house. We remind them how easy the endangered natives are to propagate. Passing their neighbour, a lawn with a few exotics, annoyance floods my chemistry = nothing to help biodiversity – too tidy, much too tidy.

Up our garden path hemmed in by flesh, Crinum Lilies have not yet erected their flower spikes, new brick-brown leaves spout from the Davidson Plum taking its time, still not knee high. The path squeezes between a Tea-tree in wedding-white and Bottlebrushes, crimson, burgundy, and pink, spiky spider grevillea with delicate cantaloupe-coloured flowers, finger-like carmine lobes stretch the Kangaroo Paws and then Wyn calls. In the Kangaroo Grass a Blue-tongue with beautiful ebony legs inlaid with ivory. Our largest skink not seen for ages.

Our response no different to being entranced by a painting or music, the aesthetic experience immersed in the present – with concern and tenderness added. That lasts a minute, I wanted ‘proof of life’, dash inside for the camera.

The lizard has stucked, stubborn unblinking eyes seem incapable of surprise. Of an ancient lineage, he, or she, has seen it all before, watched Australia dry over millions of years, and grown as sea levels fell. Watched giant flightless ‘mihirungs’ (thunderbirds) stomp past, witnessed the emergence of the macropods, and rode all the climate perturbations and then our invasion. This was the first reptile to be named in English and is now being killed by dogs and cats while wearing our new climate shocks.

I notice weeds I have missed. Naively, we had envisaged a self-sufficient garden, nearly all natives – letting them get on with it. How do we solve what we are attempting?

The sky runs grey as grey, pure as the usual blue, porous heaven begins a release. The camera-shy Rail, surprisingly lean, scoots behind Lomandra, resident for a week now, its shrill note welcomed. Lonely, looking for a mate? Or territorial, announcing – this is my garden, I have food. Every truth in this garden comes from Country not Eden.

21 Oct

Crested Terns, Valla Beach

Whales are returning to Antarctica, hundreds could be cruising past right now, unheard, unseen because the sea is drowning in cloud, ready to implode. A bass rumble reminds me of a warning – five days of heavy rain.
A few Crested Terns are standing on the corner, the sea’s lips look uncertain, the footbridge appears flimsy. The sand is still golden but summer seems so far away. A thunderstorm comes and goes.

22 Oct

Curl Grub

Dead-heading roses I’m tickled, a flower spider runs over my palm and drops onto a leaf sidestepping beneath. I lift the leaf revealing a beautiful lettuce green body with bright yellow abdomen spotted orange.

It drops again. I worry where to place my feet. Earlier I stepped back from the door and felt a squelch, found a fat White Curl Grub silently leaking, no longer prepared for beetlehood.

In Gujarat, I saw Jains wearing white, but didn’t see them sweep the path in front of them, and didn’t ask for their views on microbes or the life expectancy of Dalits. Children are dying every day from food lack, crap water and conflicts. Which priorities can we inhale?

23 Oct

A beautiful grey sky, rain continuing, floods across NSW and Victoria

Looking for sunrise I am blanked, the sea is draped, so I lift my gaze from the mist to the clouds wrangling greys shaving off lightness, breathe from my tan-tien (as a lapsed practitioner). From the first breath to last, always a curious journey.

A rail calls from the forest edge and then I see our new resident clearly for the first time, a Buff-banded Rail scooting down the garden path towards the sound with such urgency, as if everything happening around the world that matters, is happening here at this very moment.

24 Oct

Sunlight after a week, the light sharp, the air thoroughly washed

Lunch with friends near the wetlands, but it’s about to rain again so we just say goodbye.

Late afternoon the window throws a golden light – a surprise, the last sun we saw was over a week ago.

Colour surrounds our everyday and can effect mood and behaviour. Colours can even change heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. How could I survive a winter in the polar regions? Cameras have their uses.

25 Oct


South is invisible, it’s wild calls closing in, closer, ten Sooty Oystercatchers flash by, no time
to play, one banks, turns and lands nearby.

Light is slowly being restored, a spread somewhere between carmine and vermillion, with a spill
of blue murk. Which is more magical – night or day? Night offers a kind of proof of how insignificant our world is, our solar system is, stuck out on an arm of the Milky Way, just one of billions of galaxies.

It always come back to Eos. A new start, fresh start, a fresh day to discover the beauty of Earth.

The beauty of Eos

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