Sunset at Jindalee, looking east. Always serene in the bush.
Sunset at Jindalee, looking east. Always serene in the bush.
On the road to Jindalee, one of many places where a breakaway occurs creating sharp contrasts in colour and texture.
To listen for the sound where there is none,
save for the elegance of birdsong,
nature’s grand opera.
Or a whistling breeze, when it can be bothered
to sigh along the gullies and through the trees.
The smell of eucalyptus, like laundry day,
nanna removing stains the old way.
Dust in my nostrils as my soles kiss the earth,
the crunch of grit,
and that dry feel of summer’s arrival.
The familiar buzz of flies,
a bead of sweat
released from winter’s cold cell.
And, overwhelmed by a sense of joy,
wanting to tell everyone,
I exclaim, again,
to no one in particular,
“I have no words!”
Just the silent liturgy of feeling,
An anamnesis of joy,
of a past now present once more.
Mate, there’s nothing out here, we’re stuffed now. On the way to Jindalee.
To the untrained eye that’s true, but to any of our local indigenous clans, there’s no reason to panic because to the familiar and trained eye, there’s an abundance of food out there, what we call bush tucker.
If you are a meat eater, then kangaroo, emu, wallaby, snakes and lizards, to name a few, are nearby. Quandongs, bush plums, mulga apples, wild orange, and more are nearby. There are also mulga seeds and wattle seeds. Plenty of insects abound, cicadas, witchetty grubs, and various caterpillars. Some sweet things like nectar, especially from the honey ant, and honey from native bees. There’s surface water in the wet season, some soaks and Gorges during summer, and if you dig there’s often water close to the surface near tree roots, and granite outcrops. Then there’s various flax and flat leaved plants you can use for making baskets and any number of containers, trees for shade and shelter, tinder for fire. To the untrained eye – there’s nothing out there. I’m no expert but to my eye and many others, there is definitely an abundance of food and life out there.
“Less is more” is a phrase from Robert Browning’s poem ‘Andrea del Sarto’ (1855). This phrase was popularised by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as the principle of Minimalism in architecture in the 1940s, van der Rohe was a leading figure in the Bauhaus movement. The Aussie bush is vast but sparse, which makes me think it is a living example of Browning’s phrase, less is more.
The sparse bush is deceptive, and yet to those who know, it’s like a magnet that draws you to linger a while and indulge that other abundance – peace. To continue a theme, in the bush there is an abundance of peace, a joyful solitude, a nurturing silence. There is a generous time out in the bush, there is no competition to mark time, no stress in taking time. No wonder many of us say it is a healing space, body, mind and soul. The bush is generous, extravagant, and abundant. It teaches me to live those values. And it teaches me that less is actually more.
maples abundant black pine a mass of needles cherry soul-gasm
One of my shots of Jindalee (Giles Breakaway). The Great Central Road and the roads that intersect it, the places along the way, have well and truly been traversed over two hundred years of exploration, mineral exploration, pastoral leases and tourism. But for us (Lyn, Su, Geoff) it was a time of exploration – it was the first time we’d been out there. As I looked out across to the east of the breakaway, I wondered what visual and geographic delights lay beyond. I was happy to camp for a time and explore the breakaway, and even happier to drive on into our unknown and see what was up ahead.
That has been my life up to this moment, that inner exploration. For me there is always that interesting intersection of living in the present moment, savouring the past for the treasure it has yielded, and looking to the next step, yearning to grow, to be more fully present, more in the experience, less attached to the material. Keeping the balance is the key, learning to love the past without clinging to it, rejoicing in the real now, and embodying the tension of possibility in tomorrow without trying to make it happen. I have worked hard at begining to let go the past, and I don’t always plan tomorrow, in fact, it is often said of me that I like to live in chaos – creative chaos I might add! Progress, though I smile, it comes with age and experience. Yet one must attend, be aware. Even so, it is still a great achievement when I can just be in the present moment, and today, for a time, was just one of those moments. It always takes my breath away, and I am grateful for it.
I am one of life’s explorers, a soul on a journey of self discovery. I hope you are too.
What moves you? The gut is where we feel it, hence the connection of viscera or gut tissue with feelings. Injustice, grief, injury, insult, passion, joy, love. Music, art, poetry. Nature. All visceral because we have a gut response. The Greeks had a wonderfully expressive word for it splanchna (σπλαγχνα), which to my ear sounds like a word for guts. Say it a few times and you’ll get the same feeling I’m sure.
Many things move me. I have music that transports me to other dimensions, art that evokes many responses, poetry that I dearly love, photos that help me re-member (to member back together the body of knowledge), relationships that speak love without actually speaking.
I am also deeply saddened by pain and hurt in my life and in the world. The plight of refugees, the ever abiding issue of debilitating and alienating poverty, racism, sexism, classism, and ismism. The many stories of brutalised people bring tears.
One of the more visceral joys for me is to spend time with Lyn and friends taking in the Australian bush. I wonder how many of you find the bush somehow, perhaps difficult to put into words, spiritual or life-giving?
The bush for me is smells, colours, textures, even visceral in its own gutsyness, yet also its fragility. It is place to recover, refresh, rediscover and reframe. I feel healthier, more aware, more myself, after days in the bush.
The Photo shows part of Jindalee (Giles Breakaway), it was a wonderful time there, and one to revisit. I hope you have a favourite place to go to.
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Random thoughts, poems, and opinions. *Opinions are subject to change. - Nathan Harrell