Young Gum

My heart goes out to my friends in Melbourne, who have just had tighter restrictions imposed upon them for another six weeks.  

Along with that news, we heard that the state of Victoria, where my partner and I live, will be in lock down again, for six weeks. 

My mind is going back to something that a dear friend of mine said once, when we were sitting by the Loddon river in Newstead two years ago, long before covid. I had been telling her of my anxieties about achieving enough in my life. She looked at me and said that it’s okay not to achieve anything, and that in fact, passing the time is enough.  

For the past five days, I have been participating in a nature connection project (guided by another friend of mine, Jane Ormonde), which involves sitting or standing in your nearest patch of nature, and breathing, listening and observing whatever draws you in. The other morning I stood by my favourite tree near our house. I will refer to it as “young gum”, as I don’t know its proper name yet. I started to sing to it, and realised I was singing into a tiny spider web, making it dance a stretchy dance. I blew at the still leaves, pretending I was a gentle gust. I heard a rustle and looked towards the creek, and two rusty-red foxes leaped silently across our backyard, diving straight through the rectangles in the wire fence. 

Then I brought my gaze back to the young gum. I thought about how the tree is taller than me, but I still see it as a baby tree. Maybe it’s like how as an older sibling, it’s hard not to see your younger sibling as younger, or greener, than you. When really, young things have their wisdom too. 

I reached out and felt a new leaf, the softness and roughness at the same time. I felt an old dead leaf, its weightlessness. Soon I didn’t have to blow at the leaves - a soft breeze started a light trembling through the tree. The frosty morning had been so still, but the sun had pulled the day awake from its sleep, and the day started to breathe, all on its own.  

It’s not a grand, impressive thing to do, standing by a tree, or a flower, or a pot plant. It’s not really achieving or changing anything in the world. But it’s a simple and beautiful way to pass some time. I highly recommend it. 

I hope you are all okay, and staying safe.