The ABC Radio National Earshot Documentary ‘In their branches‘ tells us about people’s love of trees. These are true expressions of intimacy and joy. Here are some images of the trees I love, climb and dream of.
Tag Archives: Wamoon
In their branches
Being called (back) by place
It was in reading Deborah Bird Rose’s most recent blog post Site Fidelity, that I was reminded of a conversation with a friend earlier in the year.
S and I were sitting on the verandah of the ‘new’ cafe in the Botanic Gardens. The moving shade of the rain trees above us formed dancing shadows on our bodies. In this light and in the thickness of the ‘build down’, we began to talk about place. I had just written about my longing to go back to Wamoon (“I can see the sea, it is a lovely blue”); to be in the crystal blue waters and speak with the mountain again. S told me that she too had felt called to be in place, many places, all over the world. As our conversation dropped into that other space (the one that is thick and holds you in timelessness), I asked S, “What if we are called to be in place because country has something to reveal to us?” We spoke about the communicable presence of places that deeply resonate with us. Uncle Max talks about the communicable presence of country when he takes people up to Gulaga Mountain, he says, “Let’s watch the land talk to us.”
Even if we are not consciously aware of why we need to be in a place, it feels right, our bodies sing when we are there. Does the axiom ‘being in the right place, at the right time’ hold more currency than we think?
Rose (see link above) writes about the attachments of human and nonhuman animals to place and the tendency to return to place:
How one comes to be attached to specific places is a process that is both deeply known and yet also forever mysterious. Many attachments are formed early, some stick and some do not. Some people experience them more deeply and non-negotiably than others, but in all cases attachments to place also involve time. Memories form around places, and as they are acted upon they accumulate, and so they are enhanced.
Place-action becomes part of the process of meaning-making, so that place, like the living creatures who grow into it, exists in the lives and minds of creatures who themselves come and go, and are sustained by place. It may not be so well known that humans are by no means the only creatures to form attachments to place. Amongst nonhuman animals one process of attachment is known as site fidelity (the tendency or desire to return).
This coming back, being called back to place is something that memory alone can not be responsible for. We are connected to place through our collective stories (we are never alone in place for there to be personal stories, our stories are always shared with the more-than-human entities in place making them collective), but also perhaps, by the mutual recognition (Roe and Hoogland 1999; Abram 1997) people-place have for one another. Just as our dear friends and family members may long to be with us, so too might place. The idea that country calls people to come and be with it is not unfamiliar to First Peoples on this continent. As F said on the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail “… country loves people, it’s always been part of it from the beginning. It wasn’t country and then people, people and country always from the beginning, one time, always connected.”
Abram, D 1997, The Spell of the Sensuous Vintage Books New York
Roe, P & Hoogland, F 1999, ‘Black and white, a trail to understanding’, in J Sinatra & P Murphy (eds), Listen to the People, Listen to the Land, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, pp. 11-30.
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“I can see the sea, it is a lovely blue…”
Whenever I catch my first glimpse of the sea and the island shaped like ET I am reminded of the words to a song that Miranda’s mother used to sing to her and her sister on their approach… “I can see the sea, it is a lovely blue…”
Distant and removed from that place, I sway in my seat, weaving through the imaginary turns of the imaginary corners of the road imprinted in my mind. This blue evokes something in me, it calls to me, reels me in. I see it and feel like I have returned home. Dwelling 4000 kilometers away I yearn to see this blue, anticipate it appearing on the horizon after each familiar turn in the winding road.
What happens when we are called to be with and cannot be there? Can I still be with this place in an imaginary? There must be a place inside of me where I can crawl up into a ball and be with the blue sea. Today I feel a deep longing for that.
The grevillea outside my window soothes me in its afternoon glow, but it also reminds me of where I am and it illuminates the distinction between here and there. Can I be in both?
When I stand on this beach (it faces the head of the island shaped like a sleeping ET) and look at the big and little mountains, I feel a welling-up inside of something big. A big feeling like a creative blurrrrgghhhh that just rises up from somewhere (maybe the wet sand), through my feet and goes ‘bang!’ when it reaches my heart. Words pour out – poetry and song – like some ecstatic frenzy. At times like that I am present, but reminded of Rumi and what he must have felt like when he was connecting with a bigger source of love and creativity. I want to be in this place today… Listening to what is seeking to emerge. Not waiting, just ready for it to come and flow through me.
I close my eyes and invoke being with this place, the big mountain and the little mountain there beyond the expanse of sandy beach.
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She creaks, she creaks
I lay hidden
from the world
on my belly.
Softened by handfuls of her tiny leaves
a bed, a bed to lay on.
Time and fallen leaves making a bed
for me to lay on.
Filtering through tiny leaves
light reaches my upturned face.
it finds me,
Filed under Birds, Dogs & Trees, Poetry
Tea Tree in Wamoon