Home' Nova National : January 2009 Contents OUR EARTH
© NOVA JANUARY 2010
Earth Song When I was younger, but not old
enough for school, I would rise
with the dew and walk through
long wet grass 'til I was called back by a
hungry tummy and, less hurriedly, by a
mother calling out to the wilds for the
return of her young son.
Each day, I would walk my country
back to life. Though little, I knew that a
brook full of water was a wonder to walk
along, and the stones were hard and
round and good to clamber over. Flowers
came in all shapes, sizes, colours; I learned
the dandelion had its own embarrassing
hazards, but valued medicinal qualities.
Even better, with correct blowing, the
seeds could even tell you the time.
I knew that people did not always see
the mystery, or even understand the
language, of the birds. I myself could sleep
in a nest of bracken and be undetected for
hours. From a windy cliff, I could watch
the tide come in, looking out onto a bay.
We can't leave it to others any longer. It's time for each
of us to make our voice count for Gaia, says Adrian
kite. Nature was my friend, cradling me to
life, and I walked it, whenever I could. It
seemed plain to me then that the world
was a beautiful place and anything that
made it ugly was not to be trusted.
Cities were a shock. Their harbours and
rivers and botanic gardens were beautiful
enough, but they were kept away from
most of us little folk by endless roads and
houses and suburbs and traffic lights. Many
roads, many houses. Near my own family's
flat on a busy street, there were the special
corners of nature, cultivated by someone
with a garden hat and a green thumb.
And down one street, a rare tree, always
begging me to climb it, and further down,
slopes too steep for houses, hidden gullies
that were worth scrambling down, even if
the stench of wild fennel stayed.
These secret pathways were chances
to encounter and imagine. Many children
in those days followed them and walked
them, finding forgotten creeks where
grown-ups had built drains; discovering a
cage where King Kong was definitely kept,
only not right now; exploring haunted
houses at least up until the first paving
stone. The city was made human, by being
made natural; and supposing behind it was
also the supernatural.
A move to the country was a chance to
find new songlines through drought, flood,
and fire. Only now, by long dusty roads,
and wide open paddocks, the trail seemed
to give up. Where once had been creeks,
cooled by ferns, sung to by lyrebirds, and
inhabited by platypus, now were eroded
gullies, sheets of topsoil shaved off,
sometimes deep cuts into the land, and
not a tree or windbreak to be seen. The
occasional dam provided water. Fox poo
and rabbits inhabited this place. An eagle,
stretched across the fence, warned everyone
away from everything.
We children could not find the
songlines anymore. Perhaps it was because
we were getting older, and we did not
know where to look. There were rumours
of stone implements, and Aboriginal place
names, but it was difficult to walk these
stories. It was difficult to get bearings. Even
the creek behind us had been straightened
during the Great Depression. Yet in
another direction at sunset, lit up by a
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