Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Listening to Nature

It’s winter here in Australia and I get the feeling my troublesome garden is trying to tell me something. The lime tree is losing its leaves, the climbing honeysuckle has fallen away from the wall, the plum tree – which has never produced anything edible unless you happen to be a fruit fly – has shot leggy branches well beyond the reach of my pruning shears – and the clematis appears to be heading next door. Now that its leaves have dropped I can see how fast, and how far, it has grown.

This garden is trying to tell me something and I’ve been far too busy to listen. If these plants could speak they would be clamouring for my attention, begging me to prepare them for spring. Winter doesn’t last long in Sydney; there are winter mornings when spring feels like it could arrive before lunchtime. The long respite of a European or North American winter, when gardens and gardeners hibernate, is barely long enough to sweep out a shed.

The plants can speak of course; I’m just not listening.

Nigerian-born novelist Ben Okri, who won the Booker Prize for his wonderful novel The Famished Road, was at the Sydney Writers’ Festival a couple of weeks ago, and I caught the tail end of an interview with him. ‘If you want to be a writer you have to learn to listen,’ he said. ‘You must listen to yourself, to others, and to the world around you.’

I reckon that advice applies to gardeners as well as to writers. Right now I should be walking around our tiny back garden, listening to what it’s been trying to tell me for weeks, then getting on with the jobs that need to be done. Instead I’m in Jervis Bay, preparing for a talk at the Berry branch of the Country Women’s Association being held on Saturday afternoon.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to be here and I will love talking to an audience of fellow CWA members and their guests, it’s just that I’m feeling a tad guilty at neglecting so much that needs to be done while I’m ‘gadding about’ on a book talk.

So this morning I got up early to walk the dog – being productive – and I was out walking at the perfect time to watch the sun rise above the horizon. There was nothing to do but stand in awed silence as an impossibly beautiful line of light stretched across the water. It was a moment of beauty that made nonsense of any guilt I might have been feeling.

Life is made up of moments, and that is one I will treasure.

PS I didn’t have a camera with me, so thank you Kate for this photo taken yesterday.


9 comments on “Listening to Nature

  1. Grey Dove
    June 12, 2015

    Thank you for expressing two profound truths so beautifully. Many people do not appreciate that nature does indeed have a voice. That it attempts to connect and communicate with us in large ways and tiny ones (even the pot of herbs on your window sill does try to talk to you), is such a simple concept and yet so complex and all embracing, it is easy for it to be overlooked or brushed aside. Equally important is that frequently elusive ability to drink in the moment, live in the now, and truly feel all that this instant has to offer. You illustrate both with humour, charm and the warmth of knowledge and appreciation, thank you.


  2. monsoonwendy
    June 12, 2015

    I hear Berry is rather nice…..


  3. candidkay
    June 12, 2015

    I love the listening bit. But it’s tuning out my crazy frantic voice and tuning into the wise, calm one that keeps me going. One makes me cranky and the other makes everything flow . . . wishing you flow:).


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      June 12, 2015

      That crazy frantic voice is so loud sometimes isn’t it? Here’s wishing us all more flow and less freneticism!


  4. Carricklass
    June 18, 2015

    Agree about the listening – often we’re so busy talking or planning our next moves, that we fail to hear!

    In Ireland we’re emerging (albeit it slowly) from winter and it strikes me winter is not a glamorous time of the year for the garden. That’s why spring is such a delight and summer is wonderful, with lushness of the greenery and sprinkling of vibrant colours.


  5. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    June 19, 2015

    Hope summer gets a wriggle on and comes out to play in Ireland soon, maybe it will linger longer if it arrives later, here’s hoping!


  6. Isabelle P.
    July 9, 2015

    Reblogged this on From Goats To Soaps and commented:
    It is easy to forget that Nature has a voice. She speaks to us constantly, whether or not we are aware of her attempts to communicate or understand what She is saying to us. Some times She shouts in a way that we all must attend to, however, She usually speaks in a gentle murmur, politely requesting our attention. Sadly this soft voice is easy to ignore.

    Recently Deb Hunt, the author of a wonderful blog Strawberries In The Desert, wrote a post on her own thoughts and observations when she tuned into Nature’s voice. She lives in Sidney Australia and when she wrote her post, her garden (her personal sliver of nature), was just settling into winter’s rest. Isabelle and I both enjoyed the piece she wrote (and beautiful photographs) very much, so we are pleased to be able to share it with you today.


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This entry was posted on June 11, 2015 by and tagged , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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