Wish I’d glued carpet on my heels

Several weeks ago, feeling spontaneous and adventurous, I took myself off to the Boondall Wetlands – all 1500 hectares of it. Fifteen kilometres from Brisbane’s Central Business District the Wetlands consist of tidal flats, mangroves, grasslands, bushland and saltmarshes – if you’re flying in or out of Brisbane airport look out your window and you’ll probably see it.

Little did I realise I was also about to step into bird watching territory.

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Doing something different by looking up

‘Keep looking up…that’s the secret of life…’ ~ Snoopy

Sitting hunched over, staring at the floor swimming in a sea of emotion, I decide to stand up and look up – a technique I know will clear the foam in my head.

My eyes look towards the sky and while I first see this…

Sky shot in black and white over Brisbane 11.06.2016

The sky was a vivid blue though in black and white the image is rather moody

…colour begins to creep in and my heart lightens. I see the depth of blue and white of the sky and notice the swirling, waving, and fluffy cloud patterns, something which the ocean mirrors.

The sky, a fascinating panorama any time of day.

Coming home on the train recently, stratocumulus clouds (round and fluffy all in rows) lined the western sky in colours of crimson, red and gold. Lucky for the fellow next to me I restrained myself enough not to rip his arm off in my excitement (hey, I’m the excitable type). It’s not every day the sky puts on such a show. My mum would say it’s the angels hanging out their washing in which case I want their wardrobe.

Whenever I look up, it changes my focus, peaks my curiosity, and gives me something constructive to think about. It also allows me creative playtime with photographs such as the lone pelican below, sitting up high on a light pole.

Hornibrook Bridge

A lone pelican sits atop a light pole – a common sight near the Pelican Park just over the Hornibrook Bridge Brisbane

Some days the sky is mesmerising and photograph-worthy but I can’t stress enough that watching where you’re walking is good for your health. Earlier this year while attempting to capture a photo of a butterfly fluttering above me, something compelled me to look down. I watched in horror as a whip snake slithered past my sandaled feet. My frightened toes remain curled to this day.

Looking up gives my neck respite from reading hardcopy books, my mobile device (you’ve heard of text neck right?), and computer keyboard. The best thing is I see what’s going on in the world around me – winning!!

Have fun 🙂

Who knew a fence could mean so much?

Wilson: “My heart attack didn’t kill me, so why act like it did? See, Tim, it was the Roman philosopher Seneca who said “if we let things terrify us, then life is not worth living.”

“Home Improvement: Death Begins at Forty (#4.3)” (1994)

New side fence

No longer able to chat over the fence with my wonderful neighbours

Wilson W. Wilson Jn, PhD, was the barely visible neighbour of Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor in the American 90’s Home Improvements television series. Described as kindly and a 90’s style philosopher, Wilson would offer Tim snippets of wisdom through and over the high fence which blocked half of Wilson’s face. Lucky for Tim and Wilson their fence had gaps between the slats.

Fast forward to the present when the neighbourhood recently underwent a fence-lift. One by one the old fencing was pulled down, rotted palings were chopped up, churned into chipbark and thrown over the ancient garden beds.

My imagination had bubbled away with more enthusiasm than a pyroclastic flow visualising what the new fence might look like. In my mind’s eye I saw village style picket fences complete with showy flowers and shrubs to breath life into the apartment complex in which I live – a village of sorts without the arty shops or chic cafes where the cool kids hang out.

Nope, my neighbourhood is a a mixture of singles, families with no kids, and families with kids. Neighbours get along – something I suspect the community is grateful for, and when newbies move in they settle into the groove of living this side of the hill before they’ve rearranged their sofas.

A week later the new fence was up. My pyroclastic flow of excitement dried up the moment I clapped eyes on it. Apart from no space between the palings it’s a behemoth at 1.80m (okay so I might be exaggerating a little), its as interesting as watching a brick wall.

Sadly no more peeks over the fence to the rhythm and movement of the neighbourhood, no more chatting to neighbours while hanging out washing, and no more waving greetings (unless I’m on the laneway).

Some have said from a privacy and security perspective it’s great. I call it isolation from the community. The place has been safe in the past and the people friendly yet private, the tall fence now screams ‘Enter at your peril ’cause I’ll swallow you up whole!’ One neighbour who calls me ‘Wilson’ (my eyebrows arched so high they ended up on my shoulders) misses our witty repartee – we always have much to talk about and it’s lovely. And I miss it.

Who knew a fence could mean so much?

Humans are an adaptable species and with time the new fence will become the old fence, life goes on, and the neighbourhood chats will begin again somewhere outside the garage door, the laneway, down by the mailboxes, or behind the gate (below) because you can’t keep a community down for long ♥

New back gate

The only thing I can see through is the round cut out of the new back gate door

Tree Hugger gets Tree Hugged

A tree hugger from way back, I was in my element several months back when I decided to explore more of the countryside south-west of Brisbane.

Crossing over the Great Dividing Range and through Cunningham’s Gap can be somewhat of a white knuckle drive although the views of the mountain ranges does make it worthwhile. Pulling in to the carpark at the top of the Gap can be a blink and miss affair if you’re unfamiliar with the area because it appears quite suddenly – drive too fast and you’ll probably miss it.

It’s worth stopping for a leg stretch though. The rainforest is visually stunning and I couldn’t help but feel I’d landed on the movie set of Jurassic park. Now trees I adore, but dinosaurs – yeah…nuh.

Cunningham's Gap

Walking along the track I was in awe of this old rainforest, the bird call, and only slightly nervous hearing the rustling of something big in the undergrowth

The afternoon sun was beginning to disappear above the trees, bird call echoed through the trees, and just beyond the track animals of some description rummaged about in the undergrowth. Water dripped from leaves into puddles though I barely watched where I was going, instead I spent most of my time looking at the canopy of trees, most of which were covered in huge bird’s-nest ferns. My dad would have fallen over in awe at their sheer size and volume!

Rainforest tree Cunninghams Gap

Throughout the rainforest huge trees reached for the sky

Because light was fading I turned around and explored the other side of the carpark and came upon this lovely tree covered from top to bottom of these vibrant green leaves. The only way I could take a decent photograph with my phone was to practically stand against and under it. It was another wow moment for me of which there were many ♥

Cunningham's Gap vine covered tree

The air was thick though the temperature cool beneath the canopy of these glorious trees

Beside the green leaved tree was a tree (small strangler fig methinks) I’m sure housed a tree spirit, or maybe many – I’m not quite sure how any spirits take up residence within a tree.

Standing beside this tree a feeling of love and happiness washed over me, then enveloped me – like a huge energy hug – a feeling with stayed with me all the way back home. I’d never been hugged by a tree before but I like it ♥

I took the photograph below in memory of this tree and the tree hug it bestowed upon me.

Cunninghams Gap Walking Track

Although surrounded by a forest of trees, it was this tree where I felt peace, love, and harmony…strange but true…

Hug a tree today, you might get lucky and get hugged right back 🙂

Exploring my Assumption

On my way to Warwick, west of Brisbane, I pass a road sign in Aratula to Lake Moogerah.

I’d driven this way before and heard the lake was a dam. Imagining dull brown water, tufts of yellow grass bordering the sparse shoreline (don’t ask me why), and lots of quiet nothingness left me with thoughts of meh. My assumption was good enough reason to stay on the highway rather than drive the 12 kms to the dam.

This time I make a mental note to explore the lake on my return trip home.

Later that day…

Driving back to Brisbane on my return trip I take the Lake Moogerah turnoff.

This is what I see…

Moogerah Dam

A breathtaking view of Lake Moogerah and the surrounding mountains of the glorious scenic rim

I also see this…

Moogerah Dam motor boats

Motorised vessels permitted on the lake – it was a busy on the water with small boats and jet skis

And this…

Moogerah Dam Wall

Walking along the dam wall, the view was stunning – even looking down

I’ve never been so deliciously surprised! My wrongful assumption of a dull brown dam to what actually is – a wonderfully vibrant body of water surrounded by mountains was breathtaking.

What’s not to love?

So happy I decided to check out my assumption – win/win ♥

Birdsnest Crysal Castle

The Ultimate Music Concert Starring – Plants

It’s early autumn when I head down the M1 from Brisbane to Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens nestled in Byron Shire’s hinterland of northern New South Wales Australia.

An easy two-hour drive I arrive mid-morning, the humidity bearable and the ambient temperature a comfortable 28o Celsius. Every now and I again I walk through a pocket of cool air – deliciously divine.

Spread over five hectares (12.4 acres) this ever-evolving property sits on an area of the Tweed volcano where lava flowed approximately 23 million years ago. Crystals of varying sizes are scattered through gardens and benches strategically placed to take advantage of the verdant surroundings.

Byron Shire Hinterland Crystal Castle

Views that roll on forever

Plant Communication

A lifelong nature lover, the Castle’s Music of the Plants experience is why I’m here. Research shows trees communicate with each other[i] as do other plants[ii] by releasing volatile chemicals. According to an article by Christine Hse dated Jun 11, 2012, Scientists Confirm that Plants Talk and Listen To Each Other, Communication Crucial for Survival[iii] they not only respond to sound but communicate to each other by making clicking sounds. Knowing this I’m curious as to how plant communication translates into music.

This experience began 40 years ago in Damanhur[iv] – an award-winning spiritual eco-community in the Piedmont region of northern Italy when Damanhur researchers designed a device capable of capturing the sound a plant makes, by connecting it to the plant’s leaves and roots. In effect this device picked up the plant’s electrical emanation and produced sound.

Fast forward to the present and I’m in the Castle’s Peace Room, now filled to capacity. Facilitator, Sjha’ra of Chocolate Yoga (worthy of its own story) welcomes us. The rock stars of the show, six potted plants and a synthesiser, sit beside her. Two electrodes are plugged into the device, the conductor has a nail attached and is placed into the soil around the root of the plant, the other is attached to the upper leaves. We learn that once an electrical connection is made, the algorithm is translated by the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) producing sound through the synthesiser.

The Concert

While hooking up the electrodes Sjha’ra introduces a Madonna lily. We’re told that to hear the best music an open heart is required and we’re instructed to project feelings of love toward Madonna.

An elderly gent in the front row turns to a young lady three seats across mouthing ‘Love?’ Smiling she nods. He mouths ‘love?’ three more times before turning to the front.

Now we sit and wait. Sjha’ra informs us that while these plants produce music, not all plants do and in fact need to be trained. My eyelids flutter wildly analysing this training concept. I later research plant training and discover trainers expose them to different music, handle them, and talk to them.

My mind wanders back to a 1986 interview where Prince Charles said he talked to plants. In a Daily Mail article of 2 March 2013 written by Rebecca Evans, Prince Charles further stated that these days he also instructs them. Kudos to His Royal Highness.

Back in the room Sjha’ra smiles touching Madonna’s leaves to encourage a response. ‘Maybe Madonna’s shy?’ she muses.

Madonna beeps once, pauses, then plays a delightful riff of experimental music. Goosebumps explode while I listen transfixed to the melody.

While Sjha’ra enlightens us with the music’s history, I mentally promise to become a better caretaker of my plants and shower them with love. I suspect there are others in the room thinking much the same.

A young agave Sjha’ra hasn’t worked with before is the last performer. Shy at first the plant takes a few moments to warm up. We send it more love. Sjha’ra jumps in surprise at its first note and smiles at the plant. Another beep, followed by a longer tone. Tentatively Agave plays several notes, picks up the pace before slowing down again. I’m unable to shake the feeling that this agave’s communication style is much like a two-year old, and subsequently fall in love with it.

After the concert I ask Sjha’ra about people’s reactions to this experience. She tells me there are many, recalling an older woman who at 65-year-old had never owned an indoor plant. “She always had plastic plants because she didn’t like messing around with plants, and didn’t want the responsibility of caring for them. Underneath all that was the fear of killing the plants.”

After her plant music experience, she bought her first indoor plant – one is truly never too old to begin something new.

It’s no secret that plants and music have healing qualities, and from a personal point of view found the combination of both to be profound and a reminder to become a better guardian of the surrounding plant life.

[i] http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/05/20/4236600.htm – Do trees communicate with each other
[ii] http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38727/title/Plant-Talk/
[iii] http://www.medicaldaily.com/scientists-confirm-plants-talk-and-listen-each-other-communication-crucial-survival-240775
[iv] http://www.damanhur.org/en/research-and-experimentation/the-plant-world

Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre

On the other side of my hill and a little up the road is the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre, tucked away in the leafy Brisbane suburb The Gap. The discovery centre is only 12 kilometres from Brisbane’s Central Business District, a fabulous greenspace (part of the D’Aguilar National Park) for people to enjoy without having to travel out of town – lucky me, I live on the other side of the hill 🙂

Walking along one of the many pathways I found this lovely wedding dais overlooking the picturesque Enoggera Reservoir and made a mental note to return and explore this area further with bathers and towel (there’s a little beach along the water’s edge).

Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre

Heading towards the Enoggera Reservoir from Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre

Lovers arch

What’s not to love

Wedding Dais

The wedding dais overlooks Enoggera Reservoir

Side of wedding dais

From the wedding dais looking down to Enoggera Reservoir

I’ve always enjoyed photography but this year I began snapping away more than usual. The four week photography course with daily assignments followed by a 7-Day Nature Challenge probably had something to do with it.

So during the course of honing my photographic skills and hunting for the perfect shot, I discovered greenspaces and things to do closer to home, something that satisfies my inner tourist and my urge to photograph things 🙂