Ahh it is such a relief to have you here, tall, wise and well travelled, watching over us. Patience and reverence. Gratitude for you lineage, your connection, our teacher from the other side of the ocean.
Leaves aflame with colour as far as the eye can follow
Who will best the other? Noble green/or the young xanthous upstart?
Hand to hand combat on every branch dazzles the eye
Will it be traditional verdance or will defectors to the other side
ruin everything by changing chlorophyll?
Atop this colour skirmishing
there brood the obese pigeon sentries
one eye to their treetop domain, the other to any movement below;
Alert to Meals on Legs if they dozed not!
In the opiate morn sun of June
one pigeon valiantly tries to keep opening one eye
while his pair of workmates dream of sweet young grubs.
Around the back door, smaller avian interlopers expertly infiltrate
rear branches level with the sleeping guards.
Wily dark-masked mynas flit in and out,
experts in rapid surveillance
while nervous eastern rosellas in twos and threes
tenuously sing their plans of invasion
in beautiful hues of voice and plume.
Straight and tall, the wind
Has helped your branches fall, but life
Still courses through your veins.
And life adorns your buttresses with vibrant green
And life makes food of blackened caverns in between
And life is nesting in your limbs’ remains
And sheltering in sleepy hollows from the rain.
A century or two it takes
For wind and fire to cocreate
The perfect home for all this life to share.
And when the logger’s coming near
Does it fill your heart with fear
For all this life you’ve nurtured for so long?
There must be a better way
For folk to earn a living wage,
Their goal in life was never to destroy.
If only our society
Could nurture life, as does this tree
With every action, word and deed.
Lady ‘O’ said to me: Munch, munch, munch
As my little Pinkabelle took crunch
Into her new dwarf apple Leprechaun
One dark and foggy winter’s morn
As we strolled among the apples in a line
Not just the Golden Pippin known as Pine
But another heritage Pine, known as Pitmaston
Knowing they’re not the last bastion
Against the columnar apples munching, err, marching into view
With funny names like Pompink and Pom-for-You
Arms linked with good companion Harmony too
But of course nothing could be sillier
Than gobbling Lady ‘O’ – she’s a Grevillea!
You took me by surprise.
I would never have planted you
If I’d known.
Not really, but
If I’d seen
Your common name,
I’d never have planted you
In my suburban front yard.
You took me by surprise
And though you take
The force of gales,
The branches you may drop,
Or the unseen withering of
Sydney Blue Gum,
Wild, majestic, untamed.
You took me by surprise.
wednesday is indigo blue
unlike tuesday which is a pale yellow…
sunday is lilac and tastes like coca cola
as monday is brown
the church tastes like doughnuts
the keyboard smells of train stations
rewired, i guess,
something plugged the visual feed into my olfactory nerve
and it kinda works…strangely
it’s nice to taste a tune
or hear a colour
see a sound
like a bat
pinging a view of the world
Do Trees Talk
do trees talk
a child’s question filled with wonder
let’s sit and listen
was my reply
quietly breathing, swaying we sat
listened with all our senses
and there it was
the voice of the trees
dialogue between them
as they breathed and swayed
slowly we listened
heard the language only one can hear in silence
well, what do you think?
I asked her
Do trees talk?
I think they do
we held hands and listened some more
The Sentinel of Fleming Park
You’ve stood here longer than anyone
with your branches wide and your crown
touching the sky
So long that they built the fence around you
instinctively respecting your space
age and wisdom
The others, lemon scented, smooth and tall
are mere saplings
their straight trunks the thickness of
just one of your gnarled branches
That thick one, the one facing me
you discarded with a sigh
louder than the wind
I knew it for what it was
as soon as I saw it shattered on the ground
You are preparing for the great turning, aren’t you?
Building up the fuel to feed the flames
that will mark the end of your long life
and allow you to birth the children
that will grant you immortality
But I know the ways of Men
As do you, deep down in your roots
The second element doesn’t come easy to them
They fear it almost as much as
they fear their own power to Create
So I took your fingers
I brought you threads spun by Gaia
I mated them
The scent of you was filling the space
If the flames that bear you children never come
your fawn-coloured fingerprints
will tell the story of your life instead
I checked the weather forecast for the next week in the mountains. Possible showers, scattered showers, light showers. Huh. Showers. Piddly, pizzly dribbles and splotches of rain and not much. Nothing to a bushfire burning into the dry alpine peat soil.
Oh come on Tasmania, roaring 40s, southern ocean, westerlies, where are our bucketloads of wet cold orographic rain? We are on an island in the middle of the southern ocean, dammit, where are the bushwalkers grimacing in their wet socks, underneath dripping goretex hoods, loving and hating Tasmania at the same time, with its summer rain and sleet and ‘oh at least the waterfalls will be stunning, and ‘look how the rain brings out the colour in the snowgums’.
No. Its hot and its dry and the creeks are only just continuing to trickle out of the highlands. The bushwalkers are sunburnt, and the moss, lichen and coral ferns are crunchy underfoot. I do lazy laps of the lake while pyrocumulus billows on the horizon, and we go to sleep after the red sun sets and the hazy red moon rises, the smell of burning forests and soil drifting past our nostrils in the night.
I’m feeling angst about the loss of the Athrotaxis. Pencil Pines. King Billies. Cupressoides, Selaginoides and their occasional illicit offspring Laxifolia. Its not unlikely this is the last epoch of these prehistoric forests, found in only Tasmania, predating homosapiens by several hundred million years. Predating even flowering plants, marsupials and a flammable Australia. Individual trees that sprouted a thousand or two years ago, tangible, living objects that pierce back through their slow, careful growth, into time we can barely imagine. A certain smell, colour, dappling of the light in an Athrotaxis forest. The feel and sound of their fallen foliage under foot. Bringing wonder and humility to our existence through our stories of their rooted longevity. How we have counted their microscopically slow growth rings.
But “Extinction happens”. Australia is flammable. Change is constant. Fire is natural. Lightening strikes. Heat, fuel, wind and flare. What was once old, dark, wet dripping rainforest will burn after it has been desiccated from a few weeks of warm wind, and be replaced with pyrogenic scrub. A vegetation type that promotes fire, fire and more fire. Volatiles oils and dry skirts of last season’s growth, ribbons of bark, burning, embering, flying, smouldering.
Although I recognise some of my complacence in climate change (driving, flying, eating meat, consuming, breathing), I don’t claim responsibility for the entirety of the athropocene, and I’m not responsible for continental drift nor the evolution of the flammable eucalypt forest that grows on our land. The ignorance of my forebears caused the loss of 2/3rds of the pre-european athrotaxis forest already. That is my lineage and my history, but it is not me.
However, no matter the hazy targets of blame or responsibility, this change is intensified in the anthropocene, the impacts are made more severe by our collective human action: land clearing and fragmentation, our relative ignorance of this landscape, its fire history and time-scales. And I’m worried, but there’s not much I can do. I couldn’t stop the lightening and I can’t start the rain. I don’t have a water-bombing helicopter. All I can do it witness via news reports and state-wide smoke haze.
And maybe it will rain anyway. Of course it will rain anyway. One day. I’m just sad about the Athrotaxis we lose in the meantime.
You were my inspiration,your life was beautiful,it inspired me day in,day out. I saw you and you saw all that happened up and down this street. You were a witness to all the crazy comings and goings of us all. Your Death was a direct result to a beaurocratic bumble of the nursery leaving and your precious water supply being turned off. Your death was watched and I cried. Your death was a shock and now i must endure and wait for them to cut you down and chip you for progress,chip you for change. i will miss you and all your communion. You will be missed. Your beauty in Death is as stunning as your beauty in life.
Like a bridge, you hold this land.
Visible scars connecting the past to the present.
A community of gums on the hill,
Overlooking new comers- trees and buildings and people.
A busy community yourself, a hub for many,
Diverse tracks laid up and down your trunk,
telling different stories of just your grand sturdy life.
I see you and your family, quiet observers amongst the bustle,
and am grateful for your anchor in this place.
We have met before.
I have been held here, on my way to somewhere else,
I have taken solace here and wept beneath your boughs.
You, my friend, are quite the specimen:
The tips of your bright green branches reaching up
and all the way back down to the ground again,
like a fountain.
In doing so, you create a magical, sacred holding space.
As “Fairy tree” I’m sure you are known by some.
Today it is you who need the favour.
Your arms that can hold so much, embrace so many,
can’t easily pluck the foreign that has been implanted in your trunk.
I will happily return the favour, glad to have a tool in my pocket.
I see one of your wounds are weeping,
Now I can embrace you.
Grand Gums Deniliquin Lagoon 2014
First words that comes to mind
gnarly weather-beaten, aged broken
survivors, fixed steadfast, unbending
Peaceful reflection branched blue sky
Younger me a seat would find
In boughs rightangled supported
Hollowed havens for possums,
cockatoos, raucous sunset’s coming
Cacophony grows. Gums unmoved
Stand sentinel to the lagoon
Kangaroos thirsty drink
Stillness pervades the eventide
Isabel Baker At Deni-car-otel
Rhus aff. viminalis
Riversdale Park, Riversdale Road, Camberwell, BOROONDARA CITY
Level of significance
Statement of Significance
Last updated on – July 19, 2004
Rare or localised
This tree is an example of a species rare in cultivation in Victoria, with the only other known specimen at
Portland Botanic Gardens. It is a very popular native in South Africa and is wind and drought tolerant. It has an
evergreen, graceful habit & neat crown with smooth pale bark which becomes flakey with age.
Located on the eastern edge of the park next to play equipment.
Spread (m): 16.5
Girth (m): multistemmed
Height (m): 8.1
Estimated Age (yrs): 90
Spread (m): E-W 13.45; N-S 20.10
Girth (m): 7.65 (multi)
Height (m): 8.1
Estimated age (yrs): 104
Report generated 13/05/16
Other Names African Sumac,
Hermes Number 70947
This tree and I share our dreamings
Gifted from a friend, a symbol of generosity and hope
Already It’s survived heat and insect and a rough transplant to a new home
So it has a right to be a little tattered
But like a migrant, its hopeful shoots point to a fruitful future
The tree dreams as it grows
of spreading its limbs widely over this new ground,
of sheltering birds and insects from the fierce summer heat
under its broad leaves
Of reaching its roots through the stone and clay
and making connections via microscopic fungal pathways
Just as I dream of making connections in my new community
through the invisible links of conversations and meetings of minds
I dream of seeing my family with friends, old and new,
gathered beneath its branches sharing laughter and food
in the heat of summer and
basking in the winter sun under its bare branches.
The tree’s dream is of selfish abundance – fruit to spread its genetic legacy into the future
My dream is to support the abundance I already enjoy
gathering fallen leaves for mulch and compost to feed the tree
and sharing fruit and produce with those I love
You and I tree, we share our dreamings.
I go out of my way to visit you
whose arms reach the heights
Who stands over a daily game of carpark musical-chairs
Chats to the church birds
With majesty and presence
You remind me I can anchor in ground & greet the wind
You have other admirers: I met one
Passing under your crown
He said “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
Imagine each atom, wavelength,
Stretch of the body,
Bend of a tree.
Molecules are made from atoms,
Atoms are made from nothing.
They have no mass.
The illusion of physicality exists merely as thought.
Every time you pick up a rock,
The rock picks you up.
There is only changing of focus, attention.
We see trees rise up like lofty giants.
They cannot walk, sing or make love.
But to them –
We cannot walk,
We cannot sing,
We cannot make love
the same way trees can.
They have constructed a different universe,
One where it is us who is dewed in the morning and silhouetted in the evening.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
I lie beneath the tree.
The tree lies beneath me.
Unheard unseen what’s behind
Your forgotten charms still,
Wind like silk on flesh or leaves
Feel out tentacles
I feel your warmth
Climb me and see from the tops
My brothers arm in arm
Unseen but heard
Motions towards knotted wood
A thousand year brotherhood
I am hear stranger but feel your strangeness underneath
Your peace and fire your abundance
Your song I am crazed drunk with
Your pull towards the light
Ceaseless, can you touch me
Like you do.
Today, a nodded hello.
All things have passed since then,
and my hands are older moving across this page.
The gumnut you nestled is gone,
and the web turned to ashes and dust.
Do you remember my longing,
and how I slept at your feet,
knowing you knew what I didn’t but would?
I see Woman in the mirror now.
When I close my eyes I feel you,
and when I open them
my fingers around the pen
might well be your gnarly roots, resting gently.
Dedicated to Peter, and to radical authenticity.
Crickets rub their wings
on autumns setting sun
wait patiently for moon
to be their echoes drum
birds sing final quartet
feathers haunting strings
night falls as I walk
peaceful streets it brings
wind whirls not a wisp
bubble beyond busy world
elm leaves kissed by yellow
soon dreams shall unfurl
I might stand here forever
hear sweet desert’s call
ungur snake curled up
where river pebbles fall
nice being reminded
captivated by time of dusk
nature brings stillness
city path or arid dust
Trees speak a thousand words They speak of pride and grace Strength and forbearance They say ” stay put!” As wind tickle the leaves The fluttering create smiles They say a thousand words. The way the branches dance On a stage of nature’s best While hearts beats applauding The way their trunks look beaten Like they’ve been through hell and back Yet still hold on to emerald green. Some whisper to the clouds As they pass exchanging secrets. And when the leaves part away Magnifying their ageing wrinkles They still say a thousand words. Trees are observers of life! What would you say about us, If you could talk, wise one? Or are you already trying to Tell us something with your branches. As your trunk steadies on ground And divides signing its Language Via branches which fall On deaf ears, while spreading more green. As if you are telling us we came from One earth and only when we understand, Will we grow! Could it be each shape is a clue? Could it be?
Firm bark, cool against my cheek
Your life-force draws my eyes
To the lava flow of rugged rivulets
running down your trunk.
Look up, again
There through branches, framed –
are glass planes
How feathery your fronds appear
stems of needles
green and sharp,
Full of promise, of fragrance.
There you are hiding along a wire fence,
Nestled among the crumbled concrete and dry leaves, captured.
Your sunshine draws me in,
Close enough to see the tiny pink bugs that call you home.
You and your freedom friends dande’, fennel, ‘sturtium and buckwheat,
Reclaiming this wild edge, putting down roots,
Where others do not roam.
Oh dear sweet tree. Thank you for being here. The day in mad March Radelaide when the weather decides to be more like Melbourne having a tropical Queensland gluten fuelled psychosis that some run and hide for fear of being drenched, some wine about and some, like myself, dangle arms to the gaps of your branches as I eat my lunch pre show, curious, as I remember rain is my favourite dish from the sky. Mad hey, getting wet? Pretty fucking tasty if you ask me, madness, occasionally, well, as long as I keep site of a tree, you or some part inside me that is sturdy. You do remind me of…. And well, you, you seem to be staying there a while. But Ive gotta go into the rain now, mmm wet! And perform. And there’s a painting of you on the wall at Tandanya Cafe, I think, so, I guess Ill see you there. On stage. Where the madness is served in bite sized droplets called “interactive folk world cabaret”, over your earth bed, under your cloud Gods and with the O2 you give. Thanks tree. See you soon buddy cakes.
the one with the lovely bend
who stands so tall
as if it were nothing at all
to be a tree
in the city
the one whose lovely full arc
shines even in the dark
and in the summer heat provides shade
that doesn’t ever fade
I write to you from my rocky hill
this forest all quiet and still
I think of you amongst the noise
I think of you and how you stand with such poise
it’s cold, is the sun warming your leaves?
such a chill on the breeze
I think of you friend,
the one with the lovely bend
who stands so tall
as if it were nothing at all
to be a big beautiful tree
in the heart of the big city
My dear beloved
You are always
there to great me
when my kitchen shift is done,
your roots do welcome,
my grateful little human bum,
To sit my seat
upon your feet,
Rest my back,
tilt my head,
to gaze along
your staunch trunk
Here I am,
surrounded by difference,
even within my own
My neighbours –
bigger, wider, taller
yet all with a similar
Striving for the light,
nourished by our surroundings.
We each came
from somewhere different,
but this ground we
were placed in,
nurtured and supported.
Not where I
a safe haven
in which I can
Pride of place,
where people gather,
a tree that shares,
in many moments.
How many years,
how many people,
have lounged about,
your embedded roots.
a photo shoot, a yoga class,
a quiet drink between friends.
A lunchtime nap? An evening happy hour?
A few quiet, despairing tears?
How many moments,
have you shared?
Time goes by,
at the gathering tree.
Long I’ve stood upon this hill,
Long outlived the hand that placed me.
Shivering green, rooted in dirt,
My misshapen form’s grown tall.
Among my boughs a hollow hosts
A grey-furred scavenger of the night.
A youthful injury has become a nurturing home
I am a peaceful shelter from the light.
You appear three trees merged above ground growing toward sun and rain.
You have stood a long time.
Mushrooms ring your base and tiny umbrellas sprout from your mossy skin.
You thrive here drinking in swampy goodness collected from the skies.
Your leaves, as human hands spread out, receive gifts from above.
What do you have to tell me about how to be in this life?
I understand how to work with Earth, bend with air,
let limbs and leaves go when necessary.
The network you cannot see below ground bathes my roots, supports my existence.
I stand tall and stand witness.
I shelter any being who comes to rest with me.
I split three ways to serve more beings, feed my core, gather more sunbeams.
Might you never forget to stand your ground even as you sit in front of your computer screen moving your branches across the alphabet lightning quick.
Remember to stand, even as you must sit. Remember the power inside your core. Remember to replenish from your roots, your connection to Earth.
Money does not matter to Earth, except what is destroyed in its name. How is it you spend so much energy tending to it?
Don’t forget to stretch your limbs upward like my leafy palms and celebrate the wind.
I see your scars.
I imagine them, similar to mine.
You have been pushed and pulled,
molded to form by your years on this earth.
Firmly rooted, grounded,
that is your strength.
The will to stay. Stay.
I touch beneath your scars.
So smooth, cold and firm.
The outer layer shedding to reveal
a new, yet the always, you.
The opportunity to
The lure to stay. Stay.
is the promise
that comes with life.
What direction it results,
shaped by circumstance
The fear to stay. Stay.
Your immense strength,
yet willingness to bend,
I hear you whisper
each time I walk by,
or is it me?
“Be grounded. Stay. Stay”.
I understand the needs of civic offices
I know a dying tree can drop a branch
Or topple whole upon some hapless passer by
But my heart grieves for your passing.
You and your siblings were guardians of this street
Every morning you witnessed my passing
Along with so many other busy humans.
Tenderly you gave us shade
Releasing the breath of life
Even as you drank in ours
My heart is humbled by your generosity.
I hope in death you have the opportunity
To pass on your precious nutrients
That your spirit may live on through other beings.
I hope the one who cut you down
Opened their heart to your glory
And gave thanks for your magnificent life
As I do.
When I quiet my mind
Thoughts of you come
And my heart resumes its sadness for the loss of you
Sitting in the shade, eyes closed, breathing
You enter my mind, tears stream down my face
In that quiet moment I hear a rustling, quite close to me
I peak out from under my eyelids
A bird has come so close that I could touch it
Maybe your spirit visiting; maybe I just want to think so.
But if it was, trust you to come back as a bird
To make a home in this beautiful park, to inhabit this magnificent tree
To have wings you can trust, that lift you above all earthly troubles
If only you had had such blessings in the life before
The life I loved you in,
the life you loved me in,
You hold me in your open arms
The stillness in your eternal flow
Your roots have creeped into my life
Your compassion into my heart
When I lie upon you, back to bough
I remeber, this is my home
This is, where I am and where I belong
This is where I have come to be
myself in this world
I hold you in my open heart
And I remember I am home