Tag Archives: trees

Weekend Coffee Share 18th March, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share! Please make yourself at home. What would you like to drink? I’ve become quite a tea drinker lately as coffee doesn’t agree with me. That said, I do risk it occasionally at a cafe. I still love a good coffee!

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My apologies once again for going off the grid. However, last Sunday was Mothers’ Day here in Australia and after the kids made me pancakes with Nutella and raspberries for breakfast here, we drove down to Sydney to see my Mum, Dad and brother for lunch and a rambling afternoon. Understandably, the weekend was swallowed up and I can’t remember what else happened. I’ve been a bit under the weather with a cold so I could well have been asleep.

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It’s not quite Winter here in Sydney but we’re getting a few cold mornings and a few chilly nights just to remind us that Winter isn’t far away. Yet, it’s a beautiful sunny day outside, which certainly begs the question what am I doing locked away inside? Why aren’t I out there soaking up all those precious rays before they disappear?

Well, I have the best of both worlds sitting here as the sun is streaming through the window and it’s really very pleasant. I’m still in my PJs at almost 3.00 pm and had a big sleep in after dropping my daughter at the dance studio at the crack of dawn (any time before 9.00 am on a Saturday morning but 7.30 was particularly cruel!!) Fortunately, we live just around the corner and if she didn’t have such a big day ahead, I’d be telling her to walk. However, please excuse the pun, but that could be just around the corner.

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My book project is coming along very well. It’s now shifted from biographical short fiction into short non-fiction with a series of biographical sketches of our ancestors and relatives put within their historical context and shaken up a bit. Both my husband and I come from huge families who arrived early on in terms of Australia’s European history and we’re just lucky that many of them were in the right or (actually from their perspective the wrong place) at the right time. Although most of the characters I’ve researched most are more recent, I’ve decided to start off with our first arrivals who I knew relatively little about. Moreover, they’ve taken me on a course I hadn’t researched much before as well. This means that while I set off on this book project thinking I was already well underway and it would take a lot to get a book out, the reality is very different. I guess it always is. The job takes longer and costs blow out. Just ask a builder.

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Yet, I’m exciting and researching and working on these stories is quite exhilarating. I’ve also had to think about why I’m doing this, other than needing to write and finish a book for my own sense of being able to see it through to the end and published. What attracted me to these characters? Why invest so much of my time, energy and my very self in telling their stories?

The answer is that these people are all great battlers. Many endured incredible hardships yet persevered and soldiered on. They didn’t give up. I find them so encouraging and they lift me up. A bad day doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

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These people are also incredibly human and I think it makes a huge difference that they’re real and that I haven’t transposed their stories into quasi-fictional stories. The reader knows this is true and has something real to hold onto. That said, truth always is a matter of perspective and how you source their particulars.

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I am having a pretty quiet day today. I’m about to head off to vote in the Australian Federal Election. I almost forgot to mention this and I’ve been doing my best to avoid just about anything to do with it. I am completely disenchanted with both major parties and don’t trust either of the main contenders for Prime Minister. However, our local member has done a great job and I question whether she should lose her seat based on her boss. We live in a marginal seat where our votes count and so I actually do need to take my vote seriously. I think I’ve fallen into the camp of voters going independent to send the major parties “a message”. Voting independent is a more civilized way of cracking an egg on the leaders’ heads, which has been quite a feature during this election campaign. You might’ve heard about Egg Boy who cracked an egg on a senator’s head after his dreadful remarks re the Christchurch Massacre. A woman also egged the Prime Minister.  The egg didn’t crack which also aroused some interest. Just to keep the campaign interesting, we’ve also had the appearance of chickenman, although he obviously isn’t responsible for laying any eggs. He’s apparently a young Liberal supporting former PM Tony Abbott. I’m not even going to touch on the intense fighting for the seat of Warringah held by Tony Abbott, except to say that I wish I could vote for his rival former Olympic skier, Zali Steggal. Tony Abbott is long past his expiry date.

Tomorrow, on the other hand, is going to be huge. Our daughter received a call back for an audition for a local ballet company which is putting on Swan Lake. This is such a huge opportunity, but I also need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. While I’m not auditioning on stage, I too will be under the microscope and most of my day will be going up in smoke waiting. I know I’m written about the benefits of waiting before but… I know. I know. I can get through another one of the unfinished books teetering on my bedside table. It would be incredible if she got in.

Before I head off, I just wanted to share with you that I went to the Sydney Writers’ Festival two weeks ago. If you’d like to dip your toe into what was a fabulous day, please click Here.

Thank you for joining me and I look forward to hearing what you’ve been up to. By the way, the photos throughout this week’s post were taken at the local wetlands this afternoon during our daughter’s audition.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Our daughter was successful in her audition and will be appearing in Swan Lake locally later in the year.

PPS Australian Federal Election done and dusted. Biggest surprise of all. We still have the same Prime Minister.

 

 

Barking Up the Wrong Tree…Friday Fictioneers

“Jess, joining us at the pub tonight? Emily’s bringing her brother along…David Wilson, the famous tree sculptor. His works have been in The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Being a taxonomist, we thought you’d get on.”

“Jane, if he’s so famous, why can’t he make his own dates? What’s wrong with him?”

“What about yourself? When was the last time you had a date? It’s not his fault that his sister inherited all the extroversion genes.”

“Jess, just promise me you won’t mention anything about their Latin names.”

Something told me, they were all barking up the wrong tree.

…..

103 words

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © J.S. Brand

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

The Walk, Sydney.

Last Thursday, I ran away. Absconded.

Well, to be precise, I walked. However, “walking” doesn’t sound as good.  It doesn’t conjure up that same sense of theatre. Lacks drama. Walking also sounds, dare I say, rather “pedestrian”.

After going down to Sydney for a doctor’s appointment, I decided to pop into the Koi Dessert Bar in Chippendale. Koi was roughly “on the way home”, even if it was in the diametrically opposed direction. Koi is co-owned by Reynold, the Dessert King of Masterchef 2015. So, I was more than willing for my sweet tooth to lead me astray. Mum was taking care of the home front. So, I was a free agent. Cinderella dancing away at the ball with no thoughts about midnight.

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After catching the train from St Leonards to Central, I was walking to Broadway via the Devonshire Street Tunnel. This long pedestrian tunnel houses buskers, the homeless, beggars, along with a vendor selling The Big Issue. The tunnel itself has been there since 1906, but the characters keep changing. Today, I was mesmerized as the notes of a saxophone rose above scuffling feet into some kind of heaven. At least, heaven in a dingy tunnel. I didn’t feel like dancing, but I certainly felt my spirit soar.  It felt like the scene out of a movie. Indeed, I made my own so stay tuned.

I walked on, emerging into daylight and city streets.

 

My destination was only a few streets away. I was heading to the Koi Dessert Bar in Kensington Street, Chippendale. This is not any ordinary restaurant or cafe. Rather, it is home to Reynold, the Dessert king of Masterchef 2015. Moreover, so many of the current Masterchef contestants end up doing work experience at Koi, after they’ve left the show. I was hoping to experience a touch of Masterchef. I’d met Reynold on my last visit to Koi and enjoyed watching their open kitchen at work and was hoping to see someone and talk Masterchef.

Above: I met Reynold and watched him and the team in action at Koi last year.

However, neither Reynold nor any familiar faces were there. So, I didn’t feel I could gush like a Masterchef tragic.

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Dessert Heaven at Koi.

Rather, I had to choose my dessert…not an inconsiderable process. With so much yum on display, it creates that impossible choice. You know they’re all sensational, and it’s just a matter of personal taste. I chose the Nomtella…a dome with Espresso mousse covered in chocolate, and a mousy salted caramel centre nesting on a chocolate brownie base. I loved it, but found that half was enough. My sweet tooth hasn’t been quite so sweet lately and I blame the increased exercise for that. I bought an Orange Creme Caramel and a citrus dessert to take home and they were much more to my palate, which surprised me. They were truly sensational.

After leaving Koi, I ended up walking up Cooper Street into Surry Hills. I explored a few alleyways, chasing images of autumn leaves back-dropped against a deep, blue sky. I was swept off my feet by a special kind of Autumn magic, which was a world away from to do lists, action plans and responsibility. I still haven’t forgotten what it was like to wander the world as a backpacker, but now I have the love and security of home and my family to go home to. I only seek temporary escape. Not a one-way journey.

I don’t know what it is that keeps drawing me back to Surry Hills.

My Dad’s side of the family, Irish immigrants from County Cork mostly following the Irish Famine, settled in Paddington and Surry Hills and the family stove making business was at 90 Fitzroy Street for many years. However, that was long before my time and even my father’s. Yet, the stories were passed down. Indeed, there’s a photo of my grandfather and his Dad standing by their truck, which gives me that sense of belonging…origins. That at least a part of me, harks back Surry Hills, back when it was a surrogate Ireland and not the rough slum that it became.

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The J Curtin Truck with my Great Grandfather and Grandfather.

Moreover, although I’ve never lived in Surry Hills, I did live in neighboring Chippendale for a number of years. Lived in a range of terraces, and even a converted warehouse a life time ago.

Surry Hills is an eclectic, constantly changing place, and you never know quite what you’ll find or what to expect. There was a little cafe I’d found, which made the most scrumptious Coconut Chai Lattes, but it closed about 2 years ago. Gone, but not forgotten. On Thursday, I went to see what I knew as the art dungeon in Campbell Street, but it now sells shampoo and looks so sanitized. It’s such a travesty…a sell out. A place with so much character, gone.

Surry Hills is expensive real estate, and yet it retains its sense of grunge. Crumbling, run-down terrace houses can still be found, along with signs of Struggle Street. I can’t account for that. After all, I’m only passing through. Picking out bits and pieces through the lens, and immortalising what I’ve seen today on my hard drive. My perspectives or interpretations of an ephemeral, kaleidoscope world.That’s without even delving into its characters. I merely chat to a few people in shops, not knowing whether they’re local or not. Then, I go home.

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I was starting to fade.

Walking along Crown heading towards Oxford Street, was a long walk and I was starting to look out for passing buses….a magic carpet to carry me home. Or, at least, back to Central Station. My legs can struggle to keep up with all I see and it’s easy to conk out half way.

 

Yet, I kept walking until I finally staggered into Museum Station and caught the train to Central. I walked over to Country trains and slumped in my seat. Unlike most of the daily commuters, Too excited to sleep and pulled out the mag I’d bought in Surry Hills:

I was heading home.

 

Before we leave Surry Hills, I thought you might like to join me on some of my previous visits:

Window Shopping, Surry Hills.

Surry Hills to Gore Hill, Sydney/

Surry Hills…A Sense of Place.

Have you been on any epic urban walks that you’d like to share?

xx Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share – April 2, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I hope you’ve had a great week and that you’re looking forward to a bit of exercise, because today you’re joining me for my 20 minute walk. You could say this has been a “prescription” from my physio and what started out as at 10 mins, doubled and I think I’d better keep a low profile or she’ll soon have me pacing the beach for a challenging 40 minutes. Something tells me, that in that instance, I might need to bring a white flag with me…along with my phone. I might be needing a lift home.

However, as much as I grumble and resist the walk, I’ve been told I’ve lost weight, I’ve become a lot more organised and if it weren’t for the repetitive, barking cough I’d be in almost great shape. I do feel a lot better!

I don’t know whether you’ve heard about Tropical Cyclone Debbie, which hit the North East Coast of Australia with a vengeance last week? There’s been extensive flooding and huge crop and personal losses on a vast scale. I’ve seen countless aerial shots of floods extending across unending plains and yet for me, these images fail to convey the storms brutal force and raw destruction. For that, I need the detail and the stories and appreciate those brave souls who’ve lost the lot and yet share that with the camera and those with no idea of what it’s like. Of course, the vast scale of the damage is hard for me to fathom from my comfy chair, even though we’ve caught the tail end of the storm here.

I have been walking along the beach and experiencing a deep sense of grief as I see more uprooted trees strewn across the sand like dead corpses without a fitting burial. Over the last two or so years, our beach has rapidly been eroding away to the point where they closed a section of road for a few months, concerned it too was going to end up out at sea. A few houses fell into the sea at Sydney’s Colloroy. Not that that’s an imminent threat here but I do love the trees.

That’s why I was pretty annoyed when I saw some young guys running up and down the dunes and doing backflips, causing masses of sand to cascade down the dunes. That’s after the council has been bulldozing sand into the dunes and local environmental groups, and even the Green Army, have been brought in to plant trees to remediate the damage. Well, knowing all of this, I approached the youths and they said they were members of the surf club and knew about the erosion. At that point, I told them that they should’ve known better and kept walking. On my way back, they were back at it again and I simply shot them a look and spoke to the lifeguard who told me that he’d spoken to them before.

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Umina Beach just after the storm in April.

I can’t blame people for wanting to have a bit of fun, but once you know you’re fun is damaging something and you continue, it becomes vandalism in my mind whether that’s something man-made or the environment. There’s no difference in my mind. What do you think? I’m ringing the council tomorrow. I’ve met the guy heading up the remediation project before  and it’s good to have the community and council rallying together on this.

However, my rantings about trying to save the local sand dunes, only occupied minutes of the last week.

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The Secret Dancers Network

Last Monday, we had our last contemporary/lyrical dance class for awhile and next term we’ll all becoming Happy Clappers. I am yet to photograph my feet in my pink satin ballet slippers with ribbons as I’m too much of perfectionist with my photography. I want to get the shot just right…so right that I haven’t even had a go. How’s that for ridiculous?!!

Wednesday, I posted another flash for Friday Fictioneers…The Wharfie.

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I also posted a series of photos of my now 11 year old daughter’s approach to applying lipstick…Mummy’s Litler Miss. Like glitter and sparkles, a three year old can never have too much lipstick.

 

 

By the way, in case you weren’t aware, the A-Z April Challenge kicked off again on Saturday. Following up on our trip to Tasmania in January, my theme for 2017 is Tasmania. It kicked of with A- Ashgrove Farm. Trust me! You’ll feel like eating your screen!

How has your week been? I’m sorry that I haven’t been visiting too many of you this year. I’m not exactly having a blogging break but I have pulled back for a bit.

Thanks for popping round. It’s been great to catch up!

This has been another contribution to the  Weekend Coffee Share. We’d to have you come and join us!

xx Rowena

The Inner Tree, Port Arthur.

“The Tree and the Reed”

Well, little one,” said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its foot, “why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your head boldly in the air as I do?””I am contented with my lot,” said the Reed. “I may not be so grand, but I think I am safer.””Safe!” sneered the Tree. “Who shall pluck me up by the roots or bow my head to the ground?” But it soon had to repent of its boasting, for a hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless log on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.Obscurity often brings safety.”
Aesop

There was such a mixture of grief and intrigue when I spotted this chopped down tree at Port Arthur. After walking through the bush admiring and photographing the soaring blue gums and almost feeling one with them, I was grieved to see something so beautiful destroyed.

“If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.”

Khalil Gibran

Yet, fortunately it’s not often that I get to see inside a tree. Despite loving trees, I still have that child-like fascination with counting the rings and peering inside this hidden, inner zone. Is this where trees store up all their secrets? Where they write down all the stories they hear whispered by the wind? Part of me, believes it is and I wish I could translate them all.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Up the Garden Path, Port Arthur.

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Although I’d never heard about the stunning gardens at Port Arthur before our visit, I was happily led up the garden path. Indeed, the gardens were a serious, botanical feast…especially for a brown-thumbed sod like myself unable to convert our sandy soil into a floral paradise.

It’s hard to comprehend that stunning, specialist gardens were growing in such a brutal, violent penal settlement. However, line most things, one thing led to another.

In 1849, several scientific groups joined together to form the Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany and the Advance of Science, the first Royal Society outside of Britain. Members had connections with Kew Gardens and other nurseries. This society  took responsibility for managing Hobart’s Government Gardens, later to become the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
Among Royal Society members were numerous Port Arthur administrators and officials including Commandants William Champ and James Boyd. Many plants were ordered from England. Cuttings, tubers, corms, rootstock and seeds were also collected by plant enthusiasts on the eight-month journey to Van Diemen’s Land. The genes of some of Port Arthur’s plants map the ports of call in South America, South Africa and India. Boyd alone ordered hundreds of plants, including dahlias, marjoram and fruit trees.

 

As early as the 1830s ornamental trees were planted at Port Arthur. By 1838 the avenue leading to the Church from Tarleton Street was lined with young trees provided by the Governor of the day, Sir John Franklin. In 1846-47, Commandant Champ developed Government Gardens as an ornamental garden primarily for the enjoyment of the ladies of the settlement. The gardens were much admired and reached their peak in the late 1860-70s. After the closure of Port Arthur the gardens were neglected until reconstruction began in the 1990’s.

‘The usual afternoon walk was to be Government Cottage Garden where the officers’ wives, their children and nursemaids used to assemble. They were charming gardens. Lovely green lawns and gay flower beds – even a fountain in the centre – all beautifully kept.’

E.M. Hall, 1871-7.

 

The plants at Port Arthur have been catologued and their stories reproduced in a stunning online catalogue. I found it rather intriguing to read how seeds, cuttings and bulbs from exotic species found in Britain, India, South Africa and more arrived onboard ships in Tasmania, finding their way into the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hobart as well as these gardens in Port Arthur.
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I might not know the botanic name for this rose but I did manage to photograph it. I could curl deep inside and wrap myself up in that petal swirl.

These days it is impossible to conceive the trafficking of plant materials across international borders when you can’t even bring plants, fruits and a swag of other items into Tasmania from the Australian Mainland…at least, not as your average Joe. Quarantine is very important in Australia and Tasmania in order to keep out exotic diseases and  pests.

“Port Arthur is beginning to look springlike. The oak trees are bursting into leaf and there is a profusion of bulbs in bloom in the paddocks which at one time were old gardens.”

The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) Thursday 30 August 1934 p 5.

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Anyway, I thought I’d share a few stories about the various plants at Port Arthur.

Quercus robur (English oak, common oak)

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The trees that surround Government Gardens and line the avenue up to the Church are mostly English oaks. This is the most common forest tree in Britain.

The botanic name robur means ‘strength’ in Latin, and refers to the hard timber for which the trees have been valued since prehistoric times. Sir John Franklin, the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land from 1836-43, provided the Port Arthur Penal Settlement with young oak, ash and elm trees, some of which may survive today. Deciduous European trees were some of the earliest brought to the new colony, bringing a sense of comfort and familiarity in an otherwise foreign landscape.

Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)

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A native to western and south western Europe, including the British Isles. Commandant Champ wrote a letter to his mother requesting her to collect the seeds of wild flowers when walking in the woods and send them to him.

 

Lupinus polyphyllus   (garden lupin)

This plant was discovered in the north-west of North America in the 1820s by Mr David Douglas, who also introduced the Douglas fir to Europe.

Seeds of ‘blue and yellow lupins various’ were being advertised for sale by Mrs Wood in the Hobart Town Courier by November 1829:

‘This splendid lupine is now become so common that we can hardly conceive how gardens must have looked without it, though it is not yet quite twenty years that seeds of it were first sent to this country…’

Melianthus major (honey flower)

A common plant in colonial gardens, Melianthus would have been admired for its unusual leaves and growth habit, as well as for its large red flower spikes, unlike any plant found in traditional English gardens. It is native to South Africa, and was collected by sailing vessels on their way from England to the Australian colonies and other trading ports.

Myosotis sylvatica (forget-me-not)

The forget-me-not is so common in Tasmanian gardens that many people consider it weedy and tend to pull it out. A common flower in woodlands throughout Britain and Europe, this would have been one of the early introductions to the gardens in Port Arthur.

The following poem appeared in an April edition of the Launceston Courier in 1829, and captures the sentimentality that people at this time had for the forget-me-not:

There is a flow’r I love so well

That grows within my garden plot

My willing pen its name shall tell

The lovely blue ‘forget-me-not’

‘Tis not within the rich man’s hall,

But near the honest peasant’s cot,

Where grows the lovely flow’r, we call,

The modest blue ‘forget-me-not’.

It does not boast a rich perfume,

The rose-bud’s glory ‘t has not got;

It does not want a warmer bloom,

The brilliant blue ‘forget-me-not’

Through life I’ve lov’d this simple flow’r

Nor ever be its name forgot

In prosp’rous time or adverse hour

The humble blue ‘forget-me-not’

And should I die an early doom

Let no false tear my mem’ry blot;

But let there spring around my tomb,

The azure blue ‘forget-me-not’

Salix babylonica (weeping willow)

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Weeping Willow at Port Arthur 2017.

The weeping willows that once grew in this garden, and in many other sites throughout Australia and Britain, were taken as cuttings from a tree growing on the grave of Napoleon Bonaparte on the island of St Helena. A quick growing shade tree popular  for ornamental plantings, willows have also traditionally been used medicinally and for basketry.

In 1845, the Commandant of Port Arthur investigated which Tasman Peninsula outstations had suitable conditions to plant willows for basket-making, and supplied these with cuttings from his own garden.

Rosa chinensis (China rose)

China roses were introduced into the west towards the end of the 18th century, and enabled the many cultivars of rose available today to be developed. China roses have the quality of repeat flowering, although they bloom most heavily in the spring.

The roses growing in Government Gardens include ‘La Marque’, a variety released in 1830 with large, fragrant, white flowers.

Solanum aviculare  (kangaroo apple)

Thomas Lempriere, the Commissariat Officer at Port Arthur from 1833-48, wrote in his journal about the culinary value of various native plants. He stated: ‘the Solanum…or kangaroo apple, is a very handsome plant and the fruits, when perfectly ripe, pleasant to the taste’. –1838

In 1828 the kangaroo apple was featured in an  article in the Hobart Town Courier, which commented:

‘…we have had occasion, this season particularly, to remark the great luxuriance of what is called the Kangaroo apple, or New Zealand potato, a species of Solanum common to this country and New Zealand… a beautiful evergreen shrub, with dark verdant leaves… It is covered with small round apples, which when ripe eat exactly like bananas, and a sort of yams grow at its root, it is both ornamental and useful.’

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed our meanders through the gardens at Port Arthur. Adding a few details to my photographs, has become quite a long and interesting journey, even for this serial plant killer.

If you’d like to check out the Port Arthur Gardens’ Plant Guide, please click: here.

xx Rowena

Jacaranda Dreaming.

This morning, I had a passionate affair with my Jacaranda tree. Different, I know…especially as I’m not usually one of those tree-hugging types. However, being Spring, all that pollen must’ve gone to my head.

Our Jacaranda tree has exploded into a luscious canopy of mauve flowers. It really is sensational. You can also see quite a few patches of mauve around town, which is rather uplifting when I’m driving around in Mum’s  Taxi. For a crazy photographer like me, this is like spotting candy beside the road. Yahoo!

Of course, if you know anything about Jacaranda trees, their beauty isn’t confined to the sky either. There’s also a pretty mauve carpet all over the grass. Indeed, as we “speak”, there are even a few stray flowers scattered all over my sleeping dogs.

After all, when it comes to dropping flowers and leaves, the Jacaranda tree is incredibly generous.

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Anyway, this morning when I went outside to photograph the sunflower seedlings, I detoured via the Jacaranda Tree. I started roaming underneath the branches looking for an angle, a perspective with my eagle eye. This was a bit tricky as my neck was quite stiff and I really had to crank it up. After a few minutes, I decided to put together a range of perspectives. I love interpreting things from different angles and seeing them through fresh eyes.  AND… these fluttering purple flowers, really were dazzling, awakening my senses and my soul.

While photographing a tree in your own backyard can feel rather hum drum, it is convenient. Besides, the funny thing is that while I might find my backyard boring, it could well be paradise to someone living on the other side of the world. That being the case, I’d much rather invite you over than the neighbours, who’ll just notice my junk.

Anyway, as soon as I point my camera at the tree, I’ve been transformed. There’s that very real sense of being sucked inside my lens. That I’m concentrating absolutely all my being and focus onto those flowers. Of course, I could call them “the subject”, but I’m not writing a university essay. Rather, I’m sharing a passion which goes beyond definitions, boundaries or even words. It’s this sense of being so consumed by what I’m seeing, that I’ve become one with it. Our boundaries have merged.

It’s a beautiful thing.

After taking the photos, I returned to my desk to download the images. By the way, my desk would look right out onto the garden if the blinds weren’t down. I know that sounds like a waste but even though it’s only Spring, the sun’s intense.

So, while I was sitting there feasting on images, I could sense a strange scratching on the back of my head. It was very much like one of my dogs scratching on the back door. No, it wasn’t nits. It was finally the muse. While I should be quite attuned to this after many years of writing poetry and turning myself inside-out through verse, I was surprised. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a poem and to be perfectly honest, I was trying to squeeze in a nap. However, as I’m sure you know yourselves, the muse doesn’t care whether you’re ready or not. She simply turns up on a whim and you have to jump or she’ll pass your spark onto someone else. The muse can be a heartless sod.

So, of course, the muse won out!

This poem is about peering through my long zoom lens trying to get a close-up of the jacaranda flowers while they’re moving in the wind. In case you haven’t used a “real” camera, long lenses do not like movement, unless of course you’re going for the blurry look. To be honest, trying to photograph these flowers, reminded me of trying to photograph kids. They can be impossible! Anyway, the poem developed its own twists and turns from there, taking on a life of its own…as it usually does.

Anyway, here’s the poem:

Jacaranda Dreaming

 Blurred through the lens,

purple skirts fluttering in the breeze,

the jacaranda flowers giggle like little girls,

caught up in their sequined twirls.

Eyes to me!

Stand still!

Smile!

 Look at the camera!

Yet, they won’t listen.

Can’t hear.

My pleas are falling flat

on deaf ears.

Oblivious to the lens,

they’re entranced by

the Spirit of Dance.

She moves among them

without a sound,

shaking their shackles free.

Liberated,

they take flight,

finally pirouetting out of sight,

leaving their seeds behind.

I wonder where they will sleep tonight…

these dazzling purple butterflies

fluttering in the sunlight

taking my heart.

 2.

All too soon,

the seeds scatter away from the tree,

falling deep into the starving Earth.

Almost on auto-pilot,

they raise their arms through the soil,

no longer seeds but trees.

They’re growing strong.

Growing tall.

Standing firm against the wind.

Fresh flowers fall from their limbs

year after year,

as the cycle of life goes on.

It’s hard to believe

these trees ever danced free,

flying along on the fragrant winds,

now that they’ve been firmly planted.

Indeed, you could probably say

the same of me.

Yet, I was also once a girl.

A girl twirling in her ballet skirt

learning to dance,

soaring on the brink of flight.

 Rowena Curtin 7th November, 2016

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Crooked and free-flowing, there’s something refreshing about the Jacaranda’s maze of twisting branches.

 

Do you have a favourite tree in your garden? I’d love to hear about it.

xx Rowena

PS I’m still wishing I could find Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree and climb to the very top and disappear for a bit. Wouldn‘t it be great?!!