Recently I have had the pleasure of showing parts of Queensland to visiting International Guests. One could assume that this may be a thankless task full of one way questions and one way answers.
Not at all! Through this process something quite profound struck me.
My guests gave me a perspective; a childlike view or fresh take on my surroundings. And further they gave me an insight into just how deeply I have connected with flora and fauna personally throughout my life.
Passing a coastal Casuarina with them, I found joy in describing not only the visual beauty of this modest tree, but also the sound it makes when wind gently caresses its draping fronds; causing them to sway rhythmically with a hush hush hush sound. I questioned if this sound and the sound of the word Casuarina had a tertiary link?
Further along on finding a Pandanus fruit I talked excitedly about the beauty of each part of the Pandanus; from the heavy fruit; to the serrated frond and its underlying cellulose structure; and pattern of growth supported by its succulent, if not phallic, props.
Wondering if the gum trees were OK my friends asked me “Are they dead leaves… is that tree dying?” “On the contrary,” I explained “Its the gum’s new leaves with their brilliant flash of colour”.
A favourite were the Paper Barks (Melaleuca); flush with water and a blush of seemingly endless distinct paper-thin and fine fibrous layers. Paper barks are very relaxing to be around and to touch. As children my brothers and I played in a wet grove (probably more accurately called a Melaleuca swamp land) where we built cubbies. It was always a cool and shady place during our hot summer holidays.
Even though now I pass these things everyday (on my way to coffee, work or various appointments) it struck me just how much I love Australian flora’s modest, diverse and sometimes contradictory nature. I suspect sharing in this way may be similar to the excitement of describing something for the first time to your children.
An eye-opening process that makes you never take for granted your surroundings or the insights of the people around you.