Inhabitant

Other people’s words about … noticing

Over the last year I have discovered a passion for birds and wildflowers in particular, along with the ever-present kangaroos. I love the texture of bark, the colour of leaves and mosses, I’m utterly fascinated with the fact that I can walk around our small patch of natural bushland each day and find something I’ve never noticed before. Or find something I have noticed before, but it catches my eye for a different reason.

from ‘Fifteen Acres: A Small Slice of Paradise‘ blog
by Lisa from Central Victoria, Australia

I came across Lisa’s blog only recently and instantly realised she is a kindred blogger. Her blog documents her growing understanding of, knowledge about, and love for all the species of native flora and fauna that live on her block of land in rural Central Victoria. I get the feeling that Lisa has learned about her patch of land simply by walking through it and observing.

One of my favourite parts of the world in my state is Aldinga Scrub. I didn’t even know about the scrub’s existence until I was well into adulthood: it was the beach nearby — with its beautiful cliffs, its blue waters, its fish-inhabited and bird-dotted reef, its wide sands — which initially attracted me.

The first time I walked through the Aldinga Scrub, I was just curious. I had heard that it was the last remnant of original coastal bushland in South Australia, and so I wanted to see what it was like. A year later, going through another phase of feeling inexplicably agitated and uncomfortable in my own skin, I decided to try walking there more often. I thought that, if I made the effort to look outwards at the world around me instead of looking inwards into my own seething internal landscape, I might find solace.

And I did.

A small kind of miracle happened as I revisited the Scrub again and again. As I wandered, I began to wonder. As I wondered, I stopped. As I stopped, I observed. As I observed, I noticed, as Lisa puts it. And then, at last, I started to see and to learn.

Something else happened, too. I began to inhabit the world around me during those walks. Inhabitation — it’s a powerful word. Maybe it’s pretentious. Maybe it’s corny? And yet that’s how it feels.

It never stops, this seeing, learning, wondering, inhabiting. That’s another kind of miracle.

The pictures in this post are photographs I’ve taken over the years on my many visits to, and walks through, the Aldinga Scrub. Here you can see it in its many moods, its many seasons, its many tempers. I don’t know if my photographs can convey the wonder I felt as I took them, or the remembered sense of discovery I feel now when I return to them, but I hope that they convey, at least, the deep joy that my wandering has brought me.

That’s the thing, you see — noticing is both a humble and a joyful process. It’s a privilege to inhabit this kind of joy.

Autumn sun

April 2016

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In the Northern Hemisphere, they call it Indian summer:
a hot, dry start to Autumn.
That’s what we had here last month —
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— warm, sunny days.
Still nights.
No rain.
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In the bush,
dry twigs crackled beneath my feet,
and the odd flower bloomed.
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Winter stole closer,
like afternoon shadows
creeping across sandy ground.
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Life cycle

I’ve talked before about my love of grasstrees.
In the last few weeks, walking through the Scrub,
I’ve glimpsed grasstrees at all stages of their life cycle.

Some were growing and establishing themselves:

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Some were flowering:

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And some were dying and decaying:

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At each stage of their life
grasstrees seem to me unique, strange, prehistoric …
and beautiful.