Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

To stand and stare

This is a crazy time of the year. So easy to get caught up in the madness and frenzy – both good and bad – of Christmas. Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.

But you can press the pause button.

I took a walk through a forest this week, seemingly alone but for birds and butterflies. The blackened bushes that didn’t survive the last drought – or the last fire – were like ghostly shadows, a brittle absence of life.

dsc05446Yet one day those branches will snap and fall. They’ll lie on the carpet of leaves and gradually decay, until what seemed dead and gone will be here still, feeding the creatures that live in the undergrowth – still part of the cycle of life.


In one spot the butterflies were so numerous I had to tread carefully to avoid stepping on them.


Birds called to each other in the high canopy, lizards scuttled away at the sound of my approach and there were many more insects and creatures that I couldn’t see. Some left their marks on Scribbly Gum trees.

It sounds fanciful but I could feel life under my feet as I walked, sandals padding softly on a mix of beaten earth, sand, rocks and leaves. Waves that ran up the beach underpinned the sound of wind high in the trees tops; twigs cracked, leaves shushed and the more I listened, the more I heard.


Was that a snake? I stood and listened. There it was again, a brief rustle then nothing. As if it too was waiting to see what I might do. Wait long enough and you’re no longer a threat, you’re simply part of the forest.

I saw undergrowth twitch, a disturbance that told me something was there, so I waited… and finally I was rewarded with the sight of an echidna, pushing its snout through piles of fallen leaves. I stood and stared, marvelling no less at the appearance of that fantastical creature than three wise men must have marvelled at the sight of a small baby.



The fat creature waddled past, crossed the track, and was gone, safe in an ancient forest that’s now protected by the State, where dogs and bike riders are prohibited. That forest reaches right down to the waterline, helping to filter run-off from inhabited areas that cluster around the bay.

In between those clusters are pockets of blissful peace and serenity, thanks to the work of ancient forests that continue the endless cycle of birth and death, renewal and regeneration.


Merry Christmas everyone.


14 comments on “To stand and stare

  1. Jack Burke
    December 23, 2016

    Thank you Deb. Merry Christmas to yourself and Clyde, and a Happy New Year.
    Lovely pics of the echidna.

    Thelma and Jack.


  2. Ross
    December 23, 2016

    Merry Christmas to you and Clyde. May you both have a happy and successful
    Lovely photos too.


  3. monsoonwendy
    December 23, 2016

    I have walked this gorgeous area myself when Mal was doing locus in Vincentia. Just beautiful isn’t it. And no people. That is becasue they were all at Bunnings in Fyshwick. Silly me. I thought NOONE would be thinking hardware this close to Christmas. How wrong could I be? Hugs to you both there and of course a pat for Maggie!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 23, 2016

      Lovely to have you back in Australia! What on earth could they all need at Bunnings two days before Christmas? Unless all their rellies are getting taps and toilet seats. Hmm… I’ve been wondering what to get Clyde. Merry Christmas to you all, with love and hugs from us here in Sydney


  4. monsoonwendy
    December 23, 2016

    An m makes such a difference. Locums. Damn spellcheck.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gaye Priestley
    December 23, 2016

    Enjoy your stories from Kenya to the South Coast plus the hardware man.
    Best wishes,


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 23, 2016

      Thanks Gaye, we bypassed Berry this time and stopped at Jervis Bay. Hope you have a lovely Christmas and hope to see you sometime in the New Year


  6. nantubre
    December 23, 2016

    Christmas blessings to you and all you love.


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 24, 2016

      Thanks Nan, the same to you and your loved ones. I sat in an empty church this afternoon. To sit and stare is just as valuable!


  7. bkpyett
    December 27, 2016

    What a drop of serenity, Deb, after the onslaught of Christmas. Beautiful photos, especially the last looks so peaceful. May 2017 bring peace and joy to everyone!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 30, 2016

      Hello Barbara, here we are on the cusp of another new year, may it bring blessings for you and those you love


  8. Eliza Waters
    January 5, 2017

    What a lovely slice of paradise, Deb, esp. the white sand beach and turquoise water. That little critter is a darling, glad he’s protected.


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This entry was posted on December 22, 2016 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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