Saturday, August 05, 2006

DAPPLED GROVE by Marion de la Croix

I had only one decision to make today. Should we head across the mountain trail or follow the creek? As we reached the fork in the trail, Teddy, his canine instinct for spoor, sharp and accurate, made the choice for me. He loped towards the right fork down to the creek.

Fanta, who since a foal had won a place in my heart, raised a fine dust as she followed behind. I lengthened my reins and relaxed. Teddy’s tail, his golden flag, hung at half-mast an indication I always thought of his contentment.

Mother Nature opened her door and welcomed us into her realm.

Half an hour ago, my head had been filled with the inconsequential matters of every day life.

Here amongst mottled green and brown contrasts, under canopies of eucalypt, which framed the blue heavens, my companions and environment, restored my soul.

A Willie wagtail pirouetted up ahead. Teddy made a playful leap at the bird, which took off horizontally and called out in protest. Teddy laughed, his tongue lolloped out of the side of his mouth as he careered away to discover another target.

Fanta whipped her head up and turned to watch a wallaby, as yet unseen by Teddy, bound away. Once she realised no predator lay in wait she lowered her head and continued.

I become aware of the tinkle of water. A leaf cascaded to the ground already littered profoundly with its kin. Bark, rotted over millennium, crackled beneath Fanta’s hooves and odours, musty but pleasurable rose to my nostrils. Tranquillity, unknown outside my private kingdom, encircled us. I inhaled, revelled, wallowed in my covert valley.

I anticipated my picnic and maybe a peaceful siesta beside the clear water.

Teddy had disappeared but I become aware of his whereabouts as he pushed through the scrub. Suddenly he gave voice. He had picked up the scent of the wallaby.

Even as a puppy, he had never run fast and now at two years of age, only attempted brief sprints. He lumbered more than ran and any animal he chased had already departed before Teddy had run a few metres.

Within minutes, his panting indicated his whereabouts long before I saw his chocolate coloured coat amidst lantana and bracken.

Thin rivulets of water linked deep pools all along the valley floor. On summer evenings, we often came for a swim. I would remove Fanta’s saddle and bridle and ride her bareback into the cool depths.

At first, she would splash her front leg to indicate her desire to roll but I would gently urge her into deeper water. The strength in her shoulders amazed me as she swam the five metres to the opposite shore. I would slip from her back when she stumbled onto the tiny strip of shore. She would snort; toss her head and roll in the sand. Satisfied she would lower her head and crop at the sweet grass, which edged the watercourse.

Teddy waited until we reached the other side before he plunged into and under the water. He always shook his shaggy head as he surfaced to allow him to see his way across. He would crawl out the water at my feet; lope twice round me before he also rolled in the sand, stood up, shook and barked his pleasure.

How I laughed at his antics.

On rare occasions, we had sighted a platypus. However, I hadn’t seen one for over a year. I felt certain the shy creatures still habited the shadowy waterways but took cover at the slightest sound.

Today as we reached the rainwater pool, I dismounted and unsaddled. Fanta had no need of restraint. Grass, only occasionally nibbled by wallabies, surrounded her and she had no reason to roam.

I unpacked my rucksack, chose a large gum to rest my back against and sat down. Countless times I had visited here but I never become blasé about such splendour. Apart from Fanta’s munching and Teddy, lapping at the waters edge, not even a bird announced its presence.

Within these emerald and russet walls, I understand the exact definition of tranquillity. Worldly cacophony is conspicuous by its absence. In these wooded glens, total silence is a way of life. Serenity is indescribable it must be experienced.

Teddy flopped down next to me.

A few metres to my left, I heard the first part of the call of the whipbird then held my breath and waited for its mate reply. Once it came, I sighed and lay back against the tree.

I reflect on my fortunate life and realise balance is the key to existence. Anxiety and frustration coupled with time alone allows the mind to recoup, rebalance.

To remain needs no encouragement however, my childlike imagination is also practical and we three have to return to humanity.

Inside my soul, when my radiance dims, I return to Mother Nature who without fee will nurture and renew.

Marion De La Croix ©


Post a Comment

<< Home