Article by Wendy Campbell
Messages from Mother Earth: The Land
by Wendy Campbell
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“Welcome to this day”. The richly golden new sun rose from behind the hills and greeted me lovingly as I stepped from the car. I gazed with thanks as she gracefully rose and made a golden pathway towards me across the river, the colour bringing images of rich golden egg yolks at breakfast.
Shouldering my backpack, for I was training for some “bush time”, I set myself up for my walk.
The avenue of lemon-scented gums rose to join their branches above me. As usual, the rainbow lorikeets and “twenty eights” chattered away among the leaves, as they enjoyed their breakfast of nuts and blossoms. As I walked along this avenue I felt my connection with these gracious trees, and my cares of the morning started to slip away.
I touched the leaves of the “Duke” tree (named for the Duke of Edinburgh), dangling in front of me over the path. As with all my friends here, they love to be touched and appreciated. A hug with the “Queen” tree (named for Queen Elizabeth) – she is truly regal, and gave me a cool, elegant greeting as is her want. The still pool between them caught the last of the golden-ness of the sun, before it rose further and took on its day-time light. I revelled in this gift to my soul, before walking down the first hill.
The stone pine rises above the start of the steep descent. He has always been a little aloof, this one. He enjoys my touch, but keeps to himself, too. I touched him lovingly – hugs are too forward for this one.
Down the hill I walked, watching the “fleet” of pelicans as they glide across the river. I imagined how hard their feet were working, out of sight. There are often dolphins here too. They can be playing with their joyful leaps. Or they can be quietly walking up river, at a similar pace to me. None today though, sadly.
The kayakers glided silently under the bridge on their morning journey, their silver wakes stretching behind them. I wondered what it would be like to glide across the water like that. I would be so close to the dolphins when they came – what joy!
I found my way around the base of the hill, where there had been rock falls recently. The rich cream of the newly bared limestone was stark against the dark, older rock. The whole hillside felt trembly, as the new limestone wished to show itself. I wondered when the hillside would slide down, letting this lovely, cream limestone be seen by all. This hillside used to be covered with trees and bushes, and it joined me in sadness that they had all been destroyed. The chainsaws had been very busy here…
At the bottom of the steps upward, I paused to gather myself. The “fleet” of pelicans sailed past, leaving a gentle, but of course elegant, wake behind them. Then I marched slowly up the steps, my pack feeling heavier as I climbed. I stopped, as always, to greet “Rapunzel”, the mountain ash with her long hair hanging down around her. Her hair is her shedding bark, waving gently in the early morning breeze. She loves her hair, and is always growing more to replace the long strands now lying at her feet.
These steps have been made into a war memorial. As I climbed, I thought about those who died in the futility of war, and sent them a prayer of thanks for their sacrifice. And I prayed that war ceases to be the way of resolving conflict.
At the top of the stairs, I hugged another of my tree friends. This stone pine has been here for a long time, and was so sad that so many of his friends have been destroyed on the nearby hillside. We wondered together how long before he goes too, and he urged me to “enjoy the present, for that is all we have”. He shared my joy as I revelled in the strength of my heart. Recovering from recent surgery, my heart was beating fast and strong from the climb with none of the horrid “turns” it had in the past.
I walked on around the hill and up to “Mr Peppermint Wonil”. This one likes to be formal, and I always treat him with respect. Standing alone among the marris, he enjoys hearing a friendly voice. I love the way the little shoots spring from his trunk like tufts of hair.
Going down the curvy path of the second descent now, I heard the ducks as they called to each other in the air. They fly around this park in groups during winter and spring, landing clumsily on wide tree branches. Spring is their time of pairing, and the groups form and reform until all are in groups of two. I would miss their haunting calls as summer comes. The brown duck family was here that day too, mother and her little ducklings. They kept close to mother, yet explored their world. How wonderful to be so new.
The frog in the pool at the bottom of the hill often gives a “Bonk” call as I arrive at his place, and he did so this morning. Knowing that frogs only live in healthy water, I was glad that this pool could be a home to him.
As I started the second climb, the willy wagtail who has often been here lately darted up for a quick “hello”, before dashing off to catch more insects. Such a busy one, this little black and white bird.
Through the wattle garden, I marvelled again at the range of these golden plants. Some flowered in winter, and were waning now. Others were just starting to flower, their little yellow puff balls bursting out of tiny green buds. I love seeing these bright plants in the bush, but at least here I can share their beauty every day.
The marri tree circle is always a place for me to stop. I greeted each of these trees in turn, those around the circle, and the one in the centre. I call her the Mother Earth tree, for she has given me love in my times of pain. Today, she bid me “Be me”, and I knew that this was timely because I had been so caught up in the troubles of my week. I thanked her, and turned to walk on knowing that my troubles were insignificant.
Past the monument to fire-fighters, I reflected on the courage of these people who served us to valiantly. They gave their lives that others might live. And they showed us how to live as fully as we can. Thank you for this lesson.
Up to the top of the hill, and I turned along the sandy path to reach another avenue of lemon-scented gums. As always, I offered a prayer at the tree with the nasty gash at her base, for the two boys who died when their car collided with this tree. As the tree sheds its bark every few years, friends of the boys come unbidden and renew their messages scratched into the white bark, tending this place with their love and tears. The bark was starting to peel, so I knew that their friends would be here again soon.
Just near the tree new life springs. The shy spider orchids have just shown their delicate, pick and white faces again. I love the way they quietly appear each spring, hidden in secluded corners of this park.
I now moved on to the grassy walk, which I call “Rainbow Bee-Eater Walk”. As the winter grass dies in late spring, the tiny rainbow bee-eaters arrive in this park on their long annual journey from Asia to our south west. There is a pair who nest along this path, every year. One year, they dug their nest at the side of the path. I was overjoyed to see them flying around with their bell-like calls every morning, catching insects for their young. I shared their pain when, one morning, I discovered that a fox had dug into their burrow-nest and eaten their young just as they were ready to fly. They sat together on a branch, looking at their destroyed nest with sadness. They were very quiet that morning. The pair now makes its nest away from the path. I still have the joy of their calls in summer, but have never found the new nest site. I so eagerly awaited their return next month.
I was on the top of the last hill, to greet the huge old lemon-scented gum there. This one has survived a number of fires, yet has cool, smooth white bark despite that. He loves his hugs, this one. He is wise, and is my image of a Grandfather Tree.
The last grassy walk took me towards a sound, which I hate – leaf blowers. They are such a waste of the earth’s energy when a broom would do just as well. The early morning cleaning of the playground had begun.
The peppermint tree circle was the next place to visit. The huge old tree in the centre had a message for me. Long have I pondered on the meaning of the Circle Mother, and how this relates to the leaders of the future. Of course, it is so simple. The circle mother allows herself to truly, fully, BE. She lovingly makes space for everyone else in the circle to do the same, and guides them on their journey. Of course!
The last pathway through trees took me to the two stone pines who first spoke to me in this park. Hugging them, they reinforce this message. To be myself is all I have to do – I respect others by allowing them to do the same. And these trees urge me to do what I have been thinking of for so long – to write down these Messages from Mother Earth. As always, I thank these gentle giants for their care.
Returning to the car, I was cleared of my worries which had come with me this morning. I shed my backpack, wet from the early morning rain on the tree branches. I was light and refreshed, ready to take joy in whatever today brought for me. Ready to be ME.
Thank you, Mother Earth.