NATURE MAN AND BEAST 1.
Australia's natural landscape is one of many colours and changing moods. All are beautiful in their diversity but some were extremely difficult for early pioneers to master especially in the dry arid areas which cover a wide central area of this vast continent. Even today with guided tours by experts in Bush knowledge these arid areas still provide a challenge, especially as these homegrown men and women must always stay aware that many visitors from both other areas of the counry and overseas alike are NOT aware that along with its unique beauty there is also hidden obstacles to the unwary: the main one being the Heat of the Outback and lack of Water, followed closely by some Wildlife, namely poisonous venomous snakes and spiders, native creatures who had made the arid land their home long before man came.
Indigenous Australians knew this centuries ago and passed the knowledge on to the early white settlers, sometimes in a lovely way too; telling stories from their DREAMING tales to illustrate the hidden secrets of the land but also in a Factual way as well.
One of these apart from their narratives of the Dreamtime was the building of "Cairns".....a pile of stones built in a narrow high mound shape on top of high hills in the Flinders Ranges, Sth, Australia. These cairns indicated where water could be located, usually hidden Springs and dry creek beds where the mineral rich water could be found by digging down into the earth where it bubbled to the surface from Artesian Basins below. "Billabongs"..... small patches of the same water that looked like a small lake was another.
A large example of this natural phenomenon of Nature to be seen in Australia is Lake Eyre in central Sth. Australia. It can dry up completely in a drought and during a hot summer slim down to a very shallow body of water. With a good rain it fills again; plant life shoots new fresh greens and the gutted dried out red surface of the earth softens and Birdlife is abundant coming from many areas to enjoy it.
It is nothing short of a Miraculous Event to see this, not just the lake itself full and lovely but the different species of Native Birds who flock in their hundreds to the bountiful gift from Nature, including a Sea Gull or two, and he or she is certainly a long way from home.
Along with the birds other Wildlife visit the inviting lake at this time; the Grey Kangaroo or "Euro" as the locals call him, and Emus and Dingos as well. In total, it is a awesome wonderful sight when the 'Barren Dried Out Earth" is once again teaming with Life!
Harsh, raw and sometimes unforgiving like a forgotten lover, the Outback was indeed a hard task master and mistress especially in its days of early settlement.
The hardship along with the joys and sorrows inspired early writers for their Poetry and Stories: some poignant and tender, some with anger and frustration in their lines and others with amusement!
The rugged Outback Bush did the same for myself after living for a while in the Flinders Ranges. Today, water is still a precious commodity in such country and not to be taken for granted. During my stay there I remembered those early pioneers and the struggles they had and wrote it down in prose and verse spurred on by enjoying and reading those earlier writers and poets who had already done so before me, their expressive and vivid words allowing any homegrown Aussie a loving memory of those forefathers and therefore part of all Australians and their heritage today and tomorrow even if they just go there for a visit!
They sunk the bore at Dry Kelly's Pan, barren arid and fretful land
Old Nine Toes assured them that the Cairn on the hill knew of a sparkling water spill
Buried deep in the earth and left for centuries until now from prying eyes or water-fowl.
So these strange white people with their funny ways decided to tap it for watering days.
Down they went 500 feet through slate and rock and iron sheet
Down still more under endless sun until they all turned black 'till the job was done!
And up she came gushing sweet, bowing and deferring to Red Gum Creek
as sparkling water filled its banks neat!
Joyous Homestead came suddeny alive as its happy folk went out to explore and
placed canvas and calico "Welcome" mat at the front door, then rushed
To see the freah watered land grazing the stock, children growing healthy who didn't mock
The arid land its heat or flies, in their blood she would stay
Until their generations numbered five.
But then it changed, the bore ran dry, old man and woman began to cry
To leave the land who for many years had known their laughter, known their tears
But" Hope Springs Eternal"we are told and a young child fossiking found a coloured stone
Gleaming its hues and beauty as proud as shining gold,
Sitting there in dry creek bed for all to see.
And once again since many many years and Old Nine Toes had gone to his ancestorial peers
At the homestead's newly painted old front door
Lies a modern "Welcome" mat which sincerely assures
That here they would stay where it all began
Here they would stay at Dry Kelly's Pan.
F.V.HORSLEY. Flinders Ranges. S.A. (1989)
Foot note: to those who may not know the "coloured stone" referred to in poem is Opal, sacred stone to the Indigenous Peoples of Australia as the "Tears Of The Rainbow Snake" ----- Highest Elder of all Indigenous Clans wherever they are from throughout the country in the Dreamtime.It is said that he 'rests sleeping across the top of the Flinders Ranges."
NATURE MAN AND BEAST 2.
The rain came just before Easter, cleansing the dry parched outback earth, cooling deperate heat sodden hearts and awakening long silenced vitally which had slept shrouded by imprisoning heat haze since February of the previous year.
The rain came with impatient fingers tapping in rythmic joyous abandon of delight against the kitchen window; Sovereign rain secure in the knowledge that it contained within itself the power to ignite as if by magic, the slumbering hues of vegetation back into radiant shades of glory after too many long hot days of beating merciless sun.
And gladdened folliage responded, pivoting and coquetting like a dancer in their new gorgeous gowns of splendour as they gracefully waltzed to the timeless song of Life.
The rain came and as I watched the diamond waterfall my heart smiled. I would wander through the silver mantle bejewelled with crystals and sing a song worthy of its Majesty. But can I do this? I do not think so! For even as we mortal humans also revel in the rain we cannot hope to understand fully the pleasure of all Nature as she welcomes and receives unto herself the gods' overflowing cup of Compassion.
Gentle soft rain, yet I see Determination to break the battle hardened spiteful drought and triumphantly succeeds with love soaked arms of humility,Fairy rain, weaving spells of release inspired by such wanton cruelty to beloved earth.
The rain came and from behind closed window akin to our own kind we can sing the song in verse and paint the melody in glorious colours which embrace all, our eyes and ears filled with the sights and sounds of twittering birds bathing in the gossamer showers and the dripping leaf,s welcome drink to tired butterflies.
The rain came, precious gift of victory and destroyer of melancholy which hastily departs when confronted with the Wisdom of such waters.
The rain came flowing through the veins of all living things. Hearts smiled and leaves fluttered happily. Magpies carrolled and the blessed earth was content.
The rain was still falling at dusk and as I turned away from the window and drew the curtains against the gathering twilight and I knew by its steady light fall it was here to stay for a while. But I too was content that
The rain came.
F.V.HORSLEY. (C) (1989.)
REASONS TO VISIT NATURE.
We all love Nature and each country of the world has its own unique flora and fauna which is special to the people who live in it, be it the bush and countryside itself or glorious beach sites and wonderful coastlines and of course the wildlife!
In the busy world of today and with Tourism flourishing globally it is sometimes difficult to literally have a break and really "Get Away From It All" but not impossible, and if for some reason we cannot physically do it then there is always modern technology to turn to with wonderful Documentary Programs like National Geographic and its spectacular photography of the natural world and also Sir David Attenborough and his crews with incredible visual birds-eye view and information on many many species of wildlife from all over the world.
However we manage to get our Nature Medicine, let's be honest with ourselves: We All Need It Occasionally in our busy and hectic lives especially those of us who live and work in a large city and its much nicer and better for our overall mind and body health to make the time to do it whether from a relaxing armchair(psst; don't forget to switch off the phone) for a hour or two, or physically go to the great outdoors.
For myself and members of my young family we were fortunate enough to travel Australia and see the bush and nature in reality for a few years and also live in small settled areas of it many of which inspired my writings.
Now adults, today one of my sons lives between the 'outback and coast' in Queensland and one lives in the wilds of Tasmania. Another son lives a busy hectic life in the middle of Sydney in NSW and every chance he gets clears out to the bush, campfires tents and all(no 5 star hotels and Getaway Packages) and breathes deeply again before going back to the city skyline and all its madness and rush. My daughter also lives out of a city with both bushland and coastline.
To many writers and poets Nature has coloured their imagination and world. The same can be said for artists as well and we are very lucky to have it do so.
Even Shakespeare wrote of 'flowers' and their beauty( as well as human affairs.) Ralph Waldo Emerson....one of my favourite early American authors wrote on Nature but could also write about human affairs as in The Scholar, and who could forget the beautiful works of English writer and poet Mason and his love for the sea"I must go down to the sea again, the lonely sea and the sky and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by!"
Great artists like Van Gough painted the still-life of Sunflowers which look so real you would swear they are.
Constable painted the immortal Haywain and many other country life works, and these are just a couple I have mentioned.
Here in Australia we had "Banjo" Paterson and his immortal works along with Henry Lawson......sometimes referred to here in Australia as( 'the people's poet) and his wonderful literature.
Both men wrote of the Aussie bush, its wildlife as well as the 'bush folk' who lived on the land. Their written works inspired the 20th century modern painter Pro Hart who hailed from outback NSW in a town called Broken Hill. His unique and sometimes amusing style terrified a lot of the 'purists' (who eventually became used to it) but lent wonderful colour to the words as in accompanying picture "A Bush Christening", painted in 1974 the poem written by Paterson.
Frederick McCubbin was another wonderful Aussie painter from the late 1800's to early 1900's who also painted the bush but in a traditional style.
Another great Aussie author Ruth Park wrote mainly for children with the ' Blinky Bill Series' (about a Koala and his adventures) and also 'Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie' cute characters she conceived from Gumnuts.....the nuts on Gumtrees!
Today as in yesterday, wherever we live in the world Nature is a inspiration and those of us who are lucky enough to be able to write or paint celebrating and acknowledging her myriad of " wonders" want to share those wonders in our own words and perception for others to enjoy. To me as a writer and poet, we are blessed to be able to do so.
THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH.
I would gather in the essence of the Bush and harvest her beauty in my heart
Rejoicing in every leaf budding tip and Eucalyptus Gum branch.
Aye she calls to me this Sovereign lady of Australia, beautiful of form and as
graceful as a ballerina.
She touches my soul with her creatures and caresses my senses with her perfume.
She is unique, wild untamed and yet in places where man has been, remains
Defiant, and still resplendent!
Look there....green tip pushing upward raising innocent young head to the sun
And pretty butterflies dance upon the greenery
As native bees hover over the petals of emerging flower securing the pollen,
Sweet creatures taking the precious treasure back to
Golden halls of nectar made honeycomb.
And even spider with web of silk and gossamer is busy
Weaving, weaving, weaving
to decorate barren fence line and adorn it with silver coloured delight.
The majesty of the countryside instills in me serenity and peace.
It is not English or European yet holds a beauty all its own
And I pine for sight of her glory
Magpies and Finches go about their business and Wombat waddles through his daily tasks
Eagle soars atop mountain peaks and trout swim freely in the rivers.
Wait for me......
I will return.......
One day when city life is over.
For now I am content with memories still fresh and sweet and
it is enough, although I would trade city bed for bracken couch in a moment.
Still I must wait
But soon the Bush will adorn my world again.
Ah, that will be a sweet day indeed and I will
Thank God for it.
(C) F.V.HORSLEY. (1995)
SNOWY RIVER SONG.
The Snowy gleamed silver glass, Hummingbird flying past
Touched the water gently with his beak, and Lo! The mighty river began to speak.
I tell you tales of a Dreaming land before the earth knew animal or man
When giant gums ruled the banks of my world
And Wattle their golden boughs unfurled
Towards the sun towards the sky their deep roots in the earth hidden by
Leaves of ages mulch of Time
Before written word, before any rhyme
or Reason could disturb the Beauty, or perturb
The sheer majesty and wondrous might, before the coming of the night.
I tell you tales of early days, roving cattle and carting drays
Hidden gorges wreathed in wealth, the yellow Dingo and his quiet stealth
As he walked the floor of valleys free and knew the names of grasses and trees.
I tell you tales of homesteads too where English wife in her garden grew
Herbs from back home in Cottage Garden style new.
Tales of Swagmen walking the track and expectant prospectors who didn't look back.
Tales of drought and fires and flooding rains
Tales of joy when Peace retained.....
The red earth's beauty amongst scattered shoots of green
When ochres and yellows against blue sky could be seen
mixed in the palette with orange and rose; a rainbow land as everyone knows!
I tell you tales of Emu Plain where brumbies romped in Autumn silver rain
Filling their bellies before first snow
In rugged Snowy Mountain country where no man with sense would go.
I'd tell you more tales but now I am tired, no longer a blushing young bride
Years have seen my body grow thin, the weight of progress caving in
On weary breast dammed up tight, tired mind can no longer fight
The sound which echoes in my waters day after day;
Come now Old One to the ocean's spray!
Where your aching arms will hold up high, fresh young infant child
Born of memory aeons past, and at it all he will laugh
Smiling and happy he will tell his tales
Of quiet Winter sun and maddened gales
And perhaps too before he is done, he will tell you he is the son
Of a mighty river full and rich sparkling like diamonds in a sky of black pitch
Of raibow trout and silver threaded tails
Of jacks who always hung on to their pails....
Tales of rolling hills and mountains tall and strong, and the never ending melody of
The Snowy River Song!