Story telling from Australia
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.
Yet 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.