In one Day

 

Today the forest is a fluid rippling movement filled with song and activity. The second batch of swallows are poking their heads over the wall of the nest and will be flying soon. A gentle breeze swans through leaves and branches, the tin roof crackles under  hot sun, solar panels lap up the energy converting it into this capacity to communicate.

We are experiencing a heat wave which is a visitor that arrives and settles in for a prolonged often uncomfortable stay, impervious to the tensions created.

The young skinny goanna not minding the heat prowls across the verandah. The birds go berserk with warning cries at these nest robbers, egg lovers, eaters of whatever they can get their claws into. They dig up fish bones we have buried, devour dumped prawn heads, swallowing everything whole.

Mother wombat has done her job, the young one now fending for it self is often spotted near the house ready to bolt under the verandah if it gets a fright. I approach quietly with soft chatter watching it ponder my intent before returning to pulling up tufts of grass to munch on.

At Sanctuary Point on the St Georges Basin we sit beside the water. Ants welcome us crawling hopefully over body, plate and into the picnic basket. The water, ironed flat and mirror polished at our feet. Bush coats the edges with the occasional suburb peeking through. An elderly couple supped past us on their boards, waving several times. I salute them with my cup of tea.

Picking up the holiday vibes I buy a newspaper to be confronted by a picture of people queuing outside department stores for the opening of  Boxing Day sales. I learn Australians spent 2 and a half billion dollars ‘ buying stuff ’.

In one day $2.5 billion.  

In one Day.

I am shocked !

In a single day Australia with a population of 25 million has spent 2.5 billion dollars which is now on route to waste in land and ocean.

I step off the grassy bank into the water, shells and sharp rocks beneath my feet ask me to focus. Woven through the thread of voices, motor boats bumping, jet skis screaming,  is a soughing, a soft shooossshing. It is the Sheoaks on the shoreline, young trees skinny of trunk, their balmy sough spreads into my heart calming my irritated pulse and slowing my breath. Gentle slaps of waves fanning out from passing craft climb up my legs and depart leaving salty tide marks.

Mats of yellow weed drift on the surface while underneath creatures, coral reefs, kelp forests, mountain ranges intersect with the wrecks of our past, the garbage of our present. Our waste floats around presenting in fish, birds and our DNA.

I love the giving and receiving of gifts – indeed I enjoy selecting something beautiful practical quirky for a family member, wrapping it with love in old paper. This year I passed on treasured books whose time has come to be shared. In return I received a shawl and a skein of banana fibre wrapped in a tea towel, a box of eco friendly toilet paper, a meditation cushion, a temperature gauge for our soap making and a book of Mary Leunig drawings.

The new baby was welcomed into the family on the Solstice as we came together to share gifts,  food and our love of each other.  The young fisher king had spent a day with Granddad and brought home such a fine haul there was enough for everyone to enjoy fish soup and baked fish for dinner.

The baby managed to sleep her way through the melee of two 3 year olds, a 20 month-old hand-in-mischief with the young pirate king. Their easy innocent play written on their faces rising in squeals of pure joy reminds me of how precious is, this planet home.

I want them to know the soughing of the Sheoak, the claws of the goanna striking the verandah boards, see the baskets of spider webs hanging in the early morning mist, the yellow robin perched on the wood pile,  turtles basking on a log and feel saltwater clear vibrant refreshing on a hot summers day.

 

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

the miracle of life

 

Saturday

a baby is born into the family

a little girl

she comes early, keen to meet us all

keen to get on with her journey

to hear the summer sounds of cicada and thunder storms

of  koel calling and bees blessing the veges and fruit trees.

 

she is tiny as they are

a miracle

a reminder of the sacredness of life

of the mystery

of the opportunity to approach life with awe grace and humility.

 

Monday

the welcome swallows on their second spring nesting hatch out their next brood. they drop a broken shell on the ground for me to notice.

over elevenses we discover that they are inhabiting a new nest directly above the door, we look at each other – somehow we missed the building of this one.

I wonder how this could be and where we have been to be this oblivious.

Tuesday

it is a haydee day and we decide to pick her up and bring her back home. driving through the bush along the bottom track to the house John says, there’s something…  a bird

I stop the car and we hop out, peering thru the forest mass for a clear look. there is a huge white shape and then as we refine our eyes I catch a movement, a tilt of a head,  a beak and an eagle appears in full majestic splendour -a Sea Eagle no less. this is a Wow moment and we get very excited. At 50 or so km from the coast a sea eagle on a branch over the island dam is a gift to be acknowledged.

Haydee wants out of her car seat and we grab the binoculars for a closer view. while she inspects the sticks and ferns on the track chattering away in baby gibberish we zoom in for a detailed look.  a large dark shape flies overhead – a wedge tail eagle keeping track of the intrusion.

is this the foretelling by the moggy in the night that woke us from our dreams. we were jerked into awareness by the verandah door banging as if it was open and the wind had slammed it closed. I turned on a light and there was a cat staring in at us thru the glass. quickly it disappeared.

in summer we usually sleep with the doors wide open – will we end up with feral cat purring on the end of the bed or eating our faces asks John.

the earth tilts and sails thru the heavens and the summer solstice approaches.

christmas looms and present buying is high on the list.

Kingston finishes school this week and we look forward to a long summer holiday with some camping, cricket in the backyard, fishing and picnics beside the ocean.

like the russian dolls the world unfolds and reveals another persona another story another hope another despair.

we cannot escape the pain and suffering and yet when a baby comes into a family, a community, into a home of love and plenty kindness there is joy and happiness to remind us of the beauty of life.

 

 

 

this photo of the white bellied sea eagle was taken in gippsland by person unknown and apart from the foliage looks exactly like the still impressed upon my heart.

 what a world when healthy babies are born and sea eagles visit.

xx

…the forest is still singing its song

having just flung the tea leaves off the verandah eyed the dark clouds registered the increased tempo of the wind and returned to the kitchen sink, I wonder if it will rain this time.

I gaze back into the yard and am struck by this surety I carry around that sooner or later this dry will give way to rain and back to abundance.

I realise that I still expect spring to follow winter to follow autumn to follow summer .I expect heat to give way to cold for wet to give way to dry , for all things to have their turn in the manner to which I am accustomed. And yet I am aware of fluctuations anomalies and records being broken again and again.

It shocks me that I hold this assumption, that it will keep rolling on as beautifully as it currently does because for all the cry of drought here in this land the forest is still singing its song.

Do I really think that the earth changes that climate scientists are discussing, the modelling they are demonstrating, the graphs and equations that appear in reports is going to happen somewhere else to someone else?

am I prepared for change and what on earth will it look like ???

A fire has been burning out of control in the hills near us since winter . A farmer was burning a heap and it ‘got away’ . It is still ‘away’ though being managed  by local fire brigades and their practice of back burning. living in a pall of smoke while listening to them tell me that over 15,000 hectares has burnt so far has become our new norm. that’s a lot of trees plants insects birds wallabies wombats echidnas possums goannas lizards – that’s a whole lot of life.

here the tall gums are flowering , the bees are busy and the forest is flourishing. out in the paddock world it is dry brown and harsh. monoculture does not serve the land well and this is a lesson that farmers would do well to learn.

the migratory birds are returning and setting up base . it is all a Song from dawn to dusk, a rich sweet melody of food and nesting, birth and family.

the red belly black snake that lives under the kitchen verandah is getting big and with a respectful dance we are sharing the space well. the frogs are occasionally being heard , the turtles have been spotted basking on the log in the dam which is getting lower day by day.

lenovo_a1000_img_20180919_143329.jpg

this beautiful flowering shrub is a callistemon. planted 20 years ago it occupies a huge space at the corner of our house. graciously it is feeding a dozen or so  wattlebirds and any number of honeyeaters .we are woken at dawn to a ruckus involving the weave and spill of bird and branch , of bully and balance as they all vie for the sweet nectar .

down from the tropical climes the stormbird has come   – this channel billed cuckoo turns up in spring to breed in this forest or should I say lay its egg in a nest.

the male bird scruffles around screeching close to the target host, either magpie currawong raven or butcher bird, and when they give chase as they do after a while because the screeching is really annoying, the female takes the opportunity to jump into the nest and leave an egg. kudos to the hosts – they take it on and feed the young cuckoo as one of their own.

this year the swallows are late to refurbish their nest , equinox is here and usually that is when the young ones emerge  –instead they are still fussing on nest detail .

the clouds have passed the wind has dropped and the sky is clear blue again.

if there is anything to be learnt from the weather it is that we are entwined one with each other.

our emotions ideas patterns and stories are shaped by the seasons much as the cliffs are worn by the ocean. the seasons are shaped by the elementals, the spin of the planets and the Spirit of all things.

thru recognising this relationship an honouring and respect of Nature is engendered.

we can build a bridge from our hearts to the heart of the universe, from your heart to eartheart .

we are indeed one with the elemental community of Air  Water  Fire  Earth and Spirit.

 

love sandra

x

 

Z : zen musing

 

dear friends ,

I know I repeat myself. I know I keep on telling the same stories over and over again, about forest and earth and spirit and beetle.

I have noted that it is a device used in other cultures and imagine that maybe repetition is one of the keys to our ongoing survival growth and learning.

and so once again

***

on any given day a turtle plods past the house

a black swamp wallaby drinks from the water pot outside the kitchen window,

a superb blue wren picks at crumbs shaken out from the breadboard onto the verandah

a skink wanders along the kitchen bench

a whipbird ducks thru the shrubberies

a black snake flattens out along the woodpile warming up.

 

***   the forest is magic;

it is biodiversity And,

it is poetry rhythm song and dance  ***

 

as a forest dweller I love it,

and yet because of my presence here  adaptations are taking place all the time. I am witness to evolution in the making. foods not previously known or eaten are now available and the black swamp wallaby and the brush tail possum like to take up all offers.

year after year our earnest human ideals have been tasted and added to the palate of bird possum wallaby, even the skinks love hommus.

we the usurpers have retired our ideals and watch in unfeigned delight at the bowerbirds, cuckoo doves, lewins honeyeaters, currawongs and silvereyes hoofing into the figs.

***

the question for me is –

how can I reduce my footprint to leave a world of beauty for the grandchildren and their grandchildren?

***

I have to take responsibility for all that is going on

all that I like and all that I despair of.

all this is within me.

we the humans are co- creating – changing the blueprint making our mark.

so on the one hand we are capable of biocide and on the other, acts of great kindness and generosity.

***

every year the whales swim along our coast, sometimes shepherding their babies in close so we can see them easily from the cliff tops. I think of the sounds they make and the songs they sing and the stories they hold and wonder why we do not know and honour their language their passion their lore.

I know next to nothing of the languages/stories within this forest, of what the kurrajong or the echidna is saying or where the turtle has come from and who its relatives are, or how old it is, or what it dreams of when it lies on the log beside the dam.

all this I do not know which is why I cherish living within this space – this place of worms and bacteria and fungi, of death and decay, of bud and bloom.

***

and that question leads me to another,

I wonder that if we are willing to plant the seeds of tomorrow

the seeds of cucumber and kindness,

of tomato and compassion,

of beans and generosity

will this make a difference ?

 

and then I pray

that it can

and that it will.

 

I do not know if there are answers

but I am thinking that

while the bee still sups from the flower

and the platypus still plays in the river

and while Mother Earth is the only embodied home we know

then,

for the sake of all that we hold dear – whale tree dingo bat sugarglider dolphin eagle  river child wattle fern wombat …….

 

let us sow the seeds of tomorrow

honour respect kindness laughter generosity compassion grace…….

 

yours faithfully,

sandra taylor

daughter of the earth and the sun

xxx

 

 P.S.  have you noticed that there is no mention of zen- what am I on about ? not even a vague attempt to bring it into the picture . I found that as far as zen goes there is nothing to say . there is only the lived and felt experience which may be zen or maybe not . who am I say? 

P.P.S. my thanks to the a to z challenge for inspiring me to write every day , to share this love I hold, this prayer I sing.  I honour all those who have travelled with me and I thank you dear companions for your support and your stories in return.

 

angophora cathedral

 

 

 

 

living like gods

angophora cathedralthis story comes from the archives of  ” the journey of jellybean road ” 2013.

 

A neighbour rang up yesterday asking for me. She’s not here,Greg says.

I just wondered if she would like some tomatoes. Greg replies with a chuckle, Sandra always wants tomatoes. Then tell her I am going away for four days but if she can come after 5 tonight she can get some.

I arrive home exhausted, the little king had been wild and rambunctious running rings around me and his mum and his aunty all thru town. I am thinking a cuppa ,a sit down with feet up and watch the thornbill flit about the house. Often we get house birds – a wren a grey thrush ,some of them find a way in thru the glasshouse or an open door and skippity skippity around the kitchen benches.

I whine a little when I get the message but John offers to come with me. It is dusk and we have to hunt thru thick kikuyu grass for the golden tomatoes then we pick the orange ones the red ones and finally the green tigers.

From there we move onto zucchinis leeks and cucumbers as long as my arm. From Christas garden to the west is the deep blue of Wandella Mountain at 1000m standing alone adrift from the main range and stretching to the north the valley continues rising and falling until it collapses into the folding tapestry of mountains and rivers.

Next door our forest is gleaming brightly and clearly visible is a tendril of smoke curling into the sky as someone kick starts Stanley for dinner .

‘I am off to Broken Hill tomorrow’ says Christa ‘I am going to pick up a couple of a camels.’

I had been paying little heed to the conversation between her and John at the other end of the garden but camels twigged my ears.

What did you say I yell out moving closer to this story.

‘Look’ she says pulling her mobile out of her jeans pocket ‘ I’ve got a couple of pics of them.’

I don’t have my specs on but even I can tell they have a hump.

I look again at Christa, a solid woman in her usual  outfit of blue t-shirt jeans and blundstones . You never really know what people have in them do you?

‘There are 800,000 wild camels in Australia ‘ she tells us. I didn’t know that but I have probably never thought about it either .We all laugh , camels in Wandella, how  absurd how crazy . it is wonderful and our laughter stretches up and lifts into the sky. Already Christa has cows pigs sheep goats miniature ponies a llama 7 dogs plus hens ducks and geese.

I am exhausted thinking about it all as I gaze around the yards the  sheds the fences the  work and try to stop  another dog  jumping  on top of me.

She points to the new camel shed and the high fencing. ‘They have been taught to tie’ she says ‘and the children give them saltbush every day’.

But what will they eat here? I ask

Anything… everything…

Why? Why camels Christa,  John wants to know.

‘I like them ‘she says with a shrug and a grin.

Fair enough I can appreciate that.  I do too. I like it all , the buckets full of produce at my feet,the idea that our wonderful crazy organic animal lover neighbour is off to Broken Hill to bring three basically wild camels back to live in Wandella .

we  head home in the gloaming my heart full of wonder at this life these stories these offerings of grandeur, of the night approaching and the first stars and  the last calls from birds . On the track into our forest we meet wombat wide awake and plodding about .

The kitchen is warm with pots and pans bubbling on the top of Stanley.

Jess says ‘we will be making relish tomorrow Kingston’ as he tears in tipping the bucket of veges onto the floor.

Later that evening Jess yells for us to come out onto the verandah. Bring a torch. Kingston is doing his before bed piddle.

Look , she says and there making its way up onto the verandah is a young diamond python. It is about two to three fingers width but has a huge lump halfway along its body. I think Kingston might have weed on it says Jess.

That is probably a rat in it, says John hopefully.

perhaps this is it , perhaps this is living like the gods. After all where else would they hang out but here with air crisp and fragrant, with soil generous and bountiful, with water fresh and sweet with wildlife gently going about their business.

A forest

a reservoir of life exploring its self…

a family loving creating…

a community growing learning…

where else would we find the gods living?

the innocent heart

 

 

 

there are those that rule that write the laws and administer them while others find themselves on a proscribed list.

asylum seekers are refugees fleeing persecution danger horror and terror. they come to our shores knocking asking pleading for assistance and find themselves banished to rot on other islands.

probably they were hanging out the washing one day and a rocket demolished their street so they picked up the kids and ran and ran and ran searching for a safe haven.

 

every day Kingston inquires into the world around him and so far this uncomfortable fact has not yet leached into his life.

 

Kingston sits in his car seat looking out the window watching the worlds appear in front of him.

 

there is plover nesting right beside the road again. why do they do that mummy he asks, will they be ok?

there is wallaby and kangaroo – the females heavy with pouch – a leg sticking out a head bending down to nibble. they stare at the car swivel their ears turn their head . sometimes they will with consummate grace bound away, other times they watch his small face pressed up against the glass. did you see that leap over the fence daddy? I wish I could do that.

 

there are the young bandit calves standing in the middle of the track holding the car up again – one with a white patch over its eye and one with clouds painted on its back.

the young recognize each other and they invite Kingston to a race and off they go – their legs kicking awkwardly up in the air, head bucking an bouncing , so gawky and having a ton of fun. Kingston laughs delightedly and waves them goodbye.

 

the wedge tail eagle slides into view drawing lazy circles in the sky – a pair of them gliding rising and falling.

in an instant the eagle spears to a paddock plucking a bunny up in mighty talons and sweeping it off its feet.

a gulp a heartfelt sigh for the bunny and awe for the majesty of the moment witnessed.

 

the child tries vainly to hold all things being equal and yet some must eat others – it is the nature of it and difficult to grasp in the innocent heart.

 

and there is fox -a golden red creature that races fleet footed like the wind across the countryside. three young kit foxes disturbed early one morning near a dam running for cover and in the weeks and months ahead gradually identities emerged and fearless was so named.

there he is dad there is fearless – tail flared out in the wind stopping and turning, alert eyes seeing past the window into the heart of a small boy.

the fox – interloper scavenger vermin killer of lambs and chickens is hunted baited trapped and flung aside by the great human army.

 

kingston doesn’t know any of this protected by his innocence and capacity to love all beings equally.

 

 

we humans have a righteousness which in turn creates the ‘other’. By proclaiming something other we in turn fear it and vilify it.

introduced species are front runners for proscription – once on the list they have to go and in liberal amounts poison is laid the gun is loaded the trap is set.

 

in the late light of day there is bunny bobtail racing across the grasses and tussocks, whiskers twitching, scampering across the road in front of the car,bobbing down a burrow running for its very life – hunted and persecuted by trap bait gun and virus it clings on to existence alongside us.

 

the thing about creating ‘other ‘ is how much more powerful it becomes, how much it is demonised and how much truth is bent out of shape.

 

the fox the rabbit the blackberry the willow did not seek to come to this land. they did not choose to be placed on the proscribed list. they were brought over in the pockets of the colonial barons who wished to make this land into what they had left behind.

 

there was no recognition of the indigenous way of living here- no acknowledgement of their agricultural practices, their villages their methods of conservation , food preparation medicines or cultural knowledge. no notice taken of the songs the dances the ceremonies- no notice at all of the effort they employed to maintain vitality of land river and tribe. they became ‘other’ and were systemically disempowered by the gun the church and the law. into the background of the white colonial fantasy they disappeared .

 

coming into the valley there are camels- the knobbly kneed beasts carrying their water supply come from a land of desert winds and sand dunes of hot sun and clear broad skies .their thick rubbery lips chewing – spittle flying and Kingston laughs to see this creature step out of the pages of ali baba and the 40 thieves .

 

sometimes on a late night and a little boy does not have many of them a wombat is sighted right at the time when the owl and tawny frogmouth are swooping silently thru the forest selecting their dinner. wombat is standing still pondering dreaming having a scratch a nibble of grass ambling about its busy ness.

 

back home spring has brought the skinks out to play and kingston breaks off a bit of biscuit and offers it to them -they have had a long sleep and are hungry he tells us.

 

Kingston lives in a world with so many Beings jostling for survival at a time when our very existence on the planet is looking decidedly shaky.

 

perhaps instead of our assumed colonial superiority we could learn humility.

perhaps we could advertise tolerance and sharing as a means of accommodating the biodiversity still tenuously hanging on.

perhaps we could look around and feel the beauty in all things.

And then we might ask – who are we without the eagle without the fox without the platypus?

who are we without love without family without community?

and what do we become when we persecute other?

a new moon

 

 

 

so much rain again this summer

places an autumn air upon our mornings where mist and her attendants swirl around the hills dancing until after breakfast.

the valley shines emerald

and here in the forest we wrestle leeches off us everytime we step off the verandah.

goannas large and small harass our hens and like to commandeer the one egg we are almost getting every day. we cant buy eggs with a yolk colour like ours even when we source them free range from the neighbours down the road.

our three girls do enjoy a diet rich in wild greens, invertebrates and kitchen scraps and we thank them for adding that richness to our diet.

 

 

my bedroom verandah on the north west corner of the house has become a shortcut for creatures to use such is the wild growth all around us.

why fight your way thru that jungle when you can step onto the boards beside the bank of batteries and meander across exiting down a couple of steps near the paper maiche room?

in the night possums take time out from galloping along our iron roof to shimmy down a pole and muck up outside our bedroom. they have  so enjoyed the grapes this season.

wallaby and wombat make use of it  and if we forget to shut the hens in at night they will make a beeline for our verandah and cackle loudly until one or other of us blearily hunts them off.

early dawn also sees the swamp wallaby sitting on the verandah eating the leaves of the pink salvia.

quite a highway out there – just waiting for one of us to trip over someone when we go out for our nocturnal visits.

a rasping scratching sound on the boards had me looking out the window just now to see goanna has also cottoned on to this pathway.  I think it has fled hassling the hens because John went after it with the rake.

I got up and pulled the door shut so it wouldn’t get any ideas of joining me

perhaps I am mistaken but it does seem as if they are all very interested in what goes on this side of the glass and mudbrick walls. or maybe they are trying to find ways to avoid the leeches and the ticks.

we made a scoot for the kitchen door the other afternoon when Jess saw red belly black snake sidling along behind stanleys stove wood and I managed  to close it closed before it could take a slide  thru the fly screen  and investigate.

on two separate occasions we have had a red belly check out our pantry/kitchen and then there was the rather large  goanna that could not find its way out the door out of our lounge room for simply ages.

suffice to say the forest is in awesome form – wildly chaotic and flourishing pushing fungi thru in any number of places…

dams are full and frogs are plentiful

turtles have had a great breeding season and wallaby babies poke heads out of every pouch.

 

 

indeed this spring/summer has been the season of the baby

and we have been blessed to welcome two new beings into our family

two girls born to two sisters

will they be warriors like me? queries Kingston John who has an obsession with warriors star wars and lego.

he insists on warrior training with his dad carrying shield and wooden sword and both return sporting bruises,

obviously no quarter is given.

of course they will be earth warriors we tell him just like you but right now it is milky breasts and cuddles that they want .

the miracle of new life

of attending to the journey of nurturing a tiny being.

possibly one of the most awesome tasks we ever undertake and yet a career is deemed more valid.

the twenty four /seven sacrifice of parents with a baby lies unseen beneath the text of lives.

all of us have sprung from a womb some of us suckled and some of us were deeply loved .

not really something one thinks about as life takes us on into the next stage and the next and the next 

and then as a grandparent it all gets revisited  

and I observe  the girls doing it differently.

I become  privy to discussions about parenting ( oh how I went ‘wrong’) and learning new terms like ‘co- sleeping’ and ‘supervised tummy time’ and and .. ‘lactation consultants.’

whaaattt…the…

all a bit heady for me.

I am not sure how I did it but I ended up with healthy adult children despite ticking most of the no-no boxes.

 

 

the wee king has started school-

a steiner school with soft curves, grace and gentle harmonics splashed with colours of the rainbow and cubbies in the yard with chooks and veges and songs

rooted in the notion that the child is a spiritual being.

sort of wets my eyes to take him there and reinforces that change is possible when I contemplate my start at the age of five.

sobbing … in a long corridor without end and being yanked  off my mother and shoved  into a classroom where I was scared and nervous for the rest of my school days.

one early memory involves being made to stand in front of the class

– hold out your hand – and then wacked several times with a ruler because I had done the ‘wrong’ page of arithmetic for homework.

I thought I was five but others in the family insist I was six.

oh well thats alright then isn’t it?

and then at ten I was made to sit outside a classroom again that long austere corridor because I refused to take my cardy off when the teacher told me to.

yes always rebellious – never did like to be told what to do.

eventually got carted off to the principals for a chat where by virtue of being a girl I avoided the strap.

And so when goanna and wombat and wallaby like to make my verandah a short cut I secretly applaud them,  I admire their I’ll do it my way style and I absolutely wish for all creatures the right to Be 

 

the right to Be themselves.