writing - fiction - short stories - images - art - food - environment - movies - news - events - politics - seniors - history - culture - thoughts for the day - life’s little problems - blog from Australia
MEETING AN OLDIE IS NOT SO PAINFUL. LINGER AND GIVE IT A GO
I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.
For years I lived next door to a giant fig in a park. It was a lot of tree to love.
That tree spread its branches across an area as large as two large suburban lots. Its roots meandered across the space to my garden where it clogged up the sewage pipe.
But I had no ill feelings. I really loved that tree.
Officially it was a Moreton Bay fig or, if it had lived closer to Sydney, a Port Jackson fig. It dominated the view from my kitchen window, and thus much of my life.
It was bird city. Life with these residents was always full of drama.
There was a family of magpies who lived there for years, with the male attacking all and sundry every breeding season. He swooped and dived for weeks on end so that everyone in the street wore stout hats before venturing out .
One year the little family had a tragedy and lost all of the babies (I think to butcher birds) and all of the magpies left the tree, never to return.
Many tiny birds flitted among the branches of the tree.
Noisy minors with orange beaks and big eyes have babies that are the greatest naggers in the universe, cheep cheeping until they are fed.
The tree came alive with fruit bats every evening at dusk. The black shapes swept in against the darkening sky to feed on the fruit and hang upside down. They didn’t nest there but left late after making a great mess.
I loved the puffy crested pigeons with their strutting and their deep chests and cooing. They had amazing mating rituals and it was a hoot to see the girls flirting with the males in hot pursuit.
The lorikeets, one of the many colourful Australian parrots, were the cheekiest pack of all. I made the mistake of leaving honey and bread out in a dish until I heard it was bad for them and withdrew the feast.
These arrogant little creatures used to knock on the kitchen window, screeching for more. I’d have probably thirty of them fly in suddenly, and leave all together without apparent reason. They were real characters – every one of them different.
The fig was such a majestic tree, planted in the first decade of the 20th century by the first landholder in the area.
Its bark reminded me of elephants’ skin, and the roots were something out of George Orwell.
Children loved to climb high into the canopy. Mothers and their toddlers came with strollers and explored and rested.
Council workers looked after the tree and its little park, mowing carefully to avoid the roots, and tree surgeons came now and then to guard it against borers.
The branches hid lots of crooks and crannies for little scurrying animals, but I never saw a snake, although I’m sure they would have been there somewhere.
When I first moved next door to the tree I could see the sunset and even Mount Warning, the tall plug of a volcano which is reputedly the first point in Eastern Australia to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays each morning. But as the years passed and branches spread, the view disappeared.
Occasionally I'd walk across and lay my head against the hard bark to feel its life within, and to be at peace. It was so cool under the tree, and seemingly so safe.
However, come a storm and wind, and the tree changed. It roared and swayed.
Sometimes I would be startled with a loud crack and crash and next morning a huge bough would be lying there on the ground beneath.
My fig tree sheltered many lives, but it could also be a widow maker – a term the old timber cutters used to describe a dreaded killer tree. More pictures follow ...
That's my old house in the background - see how close I lived. This week I made a little pilgrimage to see it all again.
Currumbin Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
I'm past my 70th birthday and undaunted.
So far I can look back on probably a dozen different phases in my life, all producing deeply felt experience:
- A barefoot carefree childhood in an Australian seaside town
- Work as a young journalist in the days of hot metal and male chauvinism
- Dipping my toe into real life in Sydney the big city
- Marriage and precious motherhood
- A second career in corporate public relations management
- Another marriage and disillusion
- Battles for financial justice in the law courts
- Re-jigging a career
- At 60 my first university degree (Creative Writing and Australian History majors)
- Fighting sometimes lost causes
- Sneaky aches and pains of the approach of age
- Living on a pension.
All fodder for writing and a valuable background for the development of what could become one day an incisive point of view.
My blogs may become a way of answering the question: 'What's next?'