Being in Nature

Having decided recently that I’m not going to write any more stories about people waking up and working together to save the planet before it’s too late my blog rapidly lost focus. The reason for my decision to stop writing those stories was because I got totally overwhelmed by the number of people who told me that scenarios like that would never happen. I agree it is unlikely – and apparently becoming more and more unlikely by the day.

While we may well be witnessing the beginning of the end of life as we know it I find the idea utterly depressing and hope it will be otherwise. However I no longer have the energy to keep beating my head against a brick wall. It is too tiring and stressful.

This morning I decided I would stop blogging. I’d reblog my piece about climate change as the third player then quietly disappear and leave my blog alone for the forseeable. The recent Australian election results depressed me and I needed to ground and centre myself. It was a beautiful autumn morning. The sun was shining. The wind was soft. The birds were singing. I decided to go out to a nature reserve I discovered a couple of weeks ago.

I drove out in a stream of traffic but once I turned down the narrow country road to the reserve I was alone. There were no other cars in the carpark. Yippee – I had the place to myself – just what I needed.

Walking across the hilltop I could see the lake beyond the trees. Light sparkled on the calm surface.

I saw a large flock of black swans flying up from the water. The sound of their wings flapping against the water as they became airborne was odd. Once in the air they cried out with a strange mewling cry. The haunting sound suited my mood perfectly.

Just as I realized something must have disturbed them I became aware of the faint sound of male voices. It took a while to spot where they were coming from and it was only when their boat emerged from the shadows that I saw them. Good – they were nowhere near me. They quickly moved out of earshot.

Forgetting about them I walked on to the mysterious medicine wheel I discovered on my previous visit to the reserve. I have no idea who made it or why but whoever they are they are not hiding.

Grateful for these anonymous earthwalkers I walked around the perimeter honouring the four directions. I then moved to the centre – the axis mundi – and made an impromptu prayer for the earth’s healing.

Exiting the wheel I walked on through the knee high grasses.

When I came to a clump of casaurina trees I found a warm, dry spot to sit. The fallen needles from the trees made a soft cushion on the ground. Above my head the trees murmured quietly to each other in the soft breeze. Out across the lake another flock of swans flew by giving their melancholy cry. Further out and higher still I saw an eagle circling lazily above the cleared paddocks of the farther shore.

Time passed. I breathed deep and the troubles of the world fell away. Out here I felt truly alive, free and utterly myself.

After a while I wandered on as far as could before the prickle bushes around the wetlands stopped me.

As I slowly made my way back to my car it came to me that there a point to my contuining to blog. I can offer you all posts like this – words and photos about my way of seeing the world and about how nature can restore, ground and centre us in these troubled times. I have no idea if humanity is going to survive. I believe that, with a total paradigm shift and a refocusing of our values, we could create a new, more holistic society. Whether or not we do is up to us. Governments will do what they do and the Right will continue to rise but we are not entirely powerless. We can work on our own healing. We can reconnect with nature. We can take practical measures to make our personal lives more sustainable. We can inspire each other to keep going.

None of us can fully see the future but losing hoping and giving into our fears will surely make our own lives and the lives of those around us miserable. It doesn’t have to be that way.

No doubt many of you will disagree but I refuse, unequivocally, to give up hope.

Driving home I took a detour and went exploring. I ended up here – it seemed very fitting.

Something different

One of my daughters is retraining to be a school teacher.  For an assignment she had to go to an area that has a different social and economic demographic to what she is used to.   She decided to go to a very polluted industrial area which has high unemployment and a very high crime rate.  She asked me to go with her.

We had a strange morning walking through a huge mall trying to get a feel for the place.  Her assignment stipulated she was not to interview people or even talk to them much but note her own impressions and try to notice any assumptions she made.   It was hard not to have our assumptions reinforced as we noticed a general air of tension and warineess we were not used too.  The shops were run down, poorly stocked and offered massive discounts.  Two police cars were parked outside the high school.   Shop keepers regarded us with suspicion.   After our very unsettling walk we went down to the wharf to try and get some kind of perspective on the area.  It was a beautiful day weather wise but there was a strong smell of pollution.  The air was hazy  and had a brownish look to it.    We didn’t feel comfortable taking many photos but here’s a few I snapped with my phone.

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Wandering locally

These days my wandering is localized.  My times of flying off to distant destinations and wandering as a tourist though other people’s lives are over, at least for now.  I really don’t like flying – it hurts my ears and damages my equilibrium on all kinds of levels.  I’m over long distance driving right now too.   I’ve done too much of it and besides, its expensive and burns up fossil fuels at an alarming rate.  These days most of my driving is confined to the wider area around my home.

Often I leave the car at home and walk along the treed avenues nearby.  This part of town is known as the ‘old town’ though by European standards it’s just a baby.  Here in Victoria, Australia it passes for old for some of the houses date back a hundred years or so.   The trees are big and shady.   Footpaths are mostly grassy tracks.   All in all, it’s a good place to wander.

I don’t miss the wider world.   It can come to me through my computer or I can find it in the shops around about.  Yesterday I went to a large warehouse that stocks unusual items the owner collects in Japan.   I bought some old glass sea floats.   Back home I hung them on a clump of sea worn twine I found as I wandered along these southern shores.

Faraway places
echoing in my footsteps
I wander home

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An autumnal moon

In his prompt   Frank J Tassone -haiku challenge – pink moon Frank writes that the Native Americans call the April Full Moon a pink moon for it heralds the appearance of the “moss pink,” or wild ground phlox—one of the early spring flowers.

Here in Oz it’s autumn so the phlox isn’t blooming but the other night as I closing my blinds I noticed the moon was casting a pinkish glow onto the surrounding clouds.

A pink moon
riding high on the wind
– my heart leaps

The same thing happened at the last full moon.DSC_0002.JPG

 

Changing seasons

Our weather has been quite peculiar this autumn.   It’s been extremely warm and we have had many days when a hot, blustery north wind has blown down from the deserts of Australia’s interior.   The bush around here has become very dry and parched looking.

DSC_0023 I took this photo of a dried out river bed on Thursday morning.

Today the weather has taken a plunge towards winter.   It’s suddenly cold and pouring with rain.   I snapped this image with my phone as I looked out my kitchen window at breakfast time.
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In her prompt https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2019/03/29/the-changing-seasons-march-2019/writes about her nation’s grief over the terrible attack on Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch NZ earlier this month.

The gunman was an Australian and I feel we Australians must take some responsibility for this as a nation.   Certain politicians in our Government have promoted racial and religious intolerance in their ignorant. bigoted and racist remarks.   This type of thinking is also inflamed by the comments made by some prominent media personalities.    We will be having a federal election later in autumn and I for one hope our current Prime Minister and the Liberal party do not win.  Along with a change of government we need to get rid of the very vocal anti Muslim, pro guns minority party One Nation for good.

Like many Australians I was appalled and shocked by the massacre in Christchurch.   I posted this photo I took inside a mosque in Turkey on my Facebook page as a gesture of support.  When I visited the mosque  I was struck by the peaceful atmosphere and the quiet interactions between the people there.   I experienced similar feelings in other mosques in the region too.

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I have had online conversations with other bloggers who feel that the answer to religious terrorism is to get rid of all religions.    I think they are proposing we ban them! Personally I don’t think this is the answer.    I don’t like it when people rant and rave about their ideas and try to convince me they are right (this applies to politicians as much as religious fanatics).   I think we all have the right to our own beliefs and to practice our faith without fear of persecution.

Waleed Aly, a Muslim and an Australian media presenter spoke of these ideas far more eloquently than me.   Here is a video of his response to the Christchurch massacre.

Rock of Ages

prompt:  https://dutchgoesthephoto.net/2019/03/26/tuesday-photo-challenge-years/

DSCF9143-02Down in south west Victoria, Australia there is a rocky point known since white settlement as Point Ritchie.   To the local aboriginal tribe, the Gundjitmara, the place has always been called Moyjil.

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Since the  1980s archaeologists have been studying evidence of aboriginal occupation at Moyjil.   High up on the cliffs in a spot that is off limits to the public they have found evidence of a fire pit that could possibly date back as much as 120,000 years.  If this can be proved it totally rewrites the story of human habitation in Australia.   Up until now the aboriginal settlement of this part of the country has been estimated to be around 30,000 years.  https://rsv.org.au/moyjil/

Elsewhere in Australia scientists have discovered evidence of aboriginal habitation that dates back 65,000 years.  The idea that habitation could date back even further is too much of stretch for some scientists who feel the fire pit might be nothing more than evidence that a tree burnt down to the ground all those many, many thousands of years ago.  https://cosmosmagazine.com/archaeology/claim-that-australia-was-settled-60-000-years-earlier-than-thought-disputed

Which ever estimation proves to be correct there is something about Moyjil that gets to me.   Clambering around on the rocks there I have often had the sense that I am walking with ancient spirits.

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A friend and I went looking evidence of aboriginal settlement ourselves one morning in late summer a couple of years ago.   At the base of the cliffs we found circles of fire blackened stones surrounded by reddened rings.  The markings were so subtle it was hard to take photographs of them so I will post a video that is absolutely fascinating viewing.

The World Peace Bell

This post is inspired by a poem by my online friend Na’ama Yehuda – A Bell to Tell

In a dusty country town out in central west NSW, Australia a large peace bell hangs in a pavillion in the town square.   Just how it came to be there is a strange tale of war and peace.

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image from https://visitcowra.com.au/astralias-world-peace-bell

During WW2 Japanese men living in Australia suddenly found themselves arrested and sent to an internment camp at Cowra, NSW.  Although the men were treated fairly under the international law they were naturally very unhappy about their internment.   Around breakfast time on the morning of August 5, 1944 they staged a breakout.   Armed with baseball bats and sharpened kitchen knives they rushed out across the barbed wire surrounding the camp and into the firing line of the Vickers machine guns set up around the perimeter.   Tragically  231 Japanese men lost their lives along with 4 Australian soldiers.   A later enquiry decided many of the Japanese had suicided rather than face the ignominy of re-capture.

The  event and its tragic outcome left a deep mark on Cowra.   Soldiers returning home after the war took it upon themselves to clean up the graves of the Japanese who died at the camp.   The graveyard was later expanded to include the graves of other Japanese who had died in Australia during the war.    It is still the only Japanese War Cemetery in the world.

Since then cultural exchanges and a student exchange program have consolidated peaceful relationships between Cowra and Japan. A Japanese garden has been established and a Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year.  Researching this post I discovered that Festival of International Understanding was held in the town over the weekend just passed.   It included a haiku competition.

In 1992 the Australian World Peace Bell was awarded to Cowra for it’s contribution to world peace.    The World Peace Bell is usually placed in capital cities but Cowra was given the honour because of its long standing commitment to peaceful international relations.

The inscription on the front of the bell reads:-

The Bell Is A Replica Of The Original World Peace Bell Which Is Located In The Inner Court Of The United Nations Headquarters In New York.

Like The Original, This Bell Is Cast From Melted Down Coins And Medals Of Member Countries Of The United Nations In The Hope That World Peace Will Be Realised.

Cowra Was Chosen By The Australian Government As The Site For The Australian World Peace Bell In Recognition Of Its Unique Contribution
To International Understanding, Promotion Of Peace And As A Centre Of World Friendship.

I visited Cowra on a sleepy summer afternoon some years ago.   Not much moved in the heat.   A few visitors milled around the Visitor Centre reading the plagues that told tragic story that had led to the town’s deep and abiding desire to promote peace.   That peace seemed to have settled over the town like a mantle.   I didn’t take any photos.   It didn’t seem appropriate somehow.

While Na’ama Yehuda’s poem led to me recall my visit to Cowra writing this post and checking the facts re-affirmed my belief that peace can be built between nations and between people even when the foundations of that peace are mired in tragedy.

World peace bells
ringing out their message
– love is the answer