Inhabitant

February 16, 2017 § 5 Comments

Other people’s words about … noticing

Over the last year I have discovered a passion for birds and wildflowers in particular, along with the ever-present kangaroos. I love the texture of bark, the colour of leaves and mosses, I’m utterly fascinated with the fact that I can walk around our small patch of natural bushland each day and find something I’ve never noticed before. Or find something I have noticed before, but it catches my eye for a different reason.

from ‘Fifteen Acres: A Small Slice of Paradise‘ blog
by Lisa from Central Victoria, Australia

I came across Lisa’s blog only recently and instantly realised she is a kindred blogger. Her blog documents her growing understanding of, knowledge about, and love for all the species of native flora and fauna that live on her block of land in rural Central Victoria. I get the feeling that Lisa has learned about her patch of land in the same way I’ve learned about Aldinga Scrub — by walking through it day after day and simply observing.

Like Lisa, I didn’t expect to become fascinated by the plants and creatures living on my doorstep. It just happened. I didn’t even know about Aldinga Scrub until after we moved to Aldinga Beach: it was the beach — with its beautiful cliffs, its blue waters, its fish-inhabited and bird-dotted reef, its wide sands — which initially attracted me.

The first time I walked through the Scrub, I was just curious. I had heard that it was the last remnant of original coastal bushland in South Australia, and so I wanted to see what it was like. A year later, going through another phase of feeling inexplicably agitated and uncomfortable in my own skin, I decided to try walking through the Scrub more often. I thought that, if I made the effort to look outwards at the world around me instead of looking inwards into my own seething internal landscape, I might find solace.

And I did.

A small kind of miracle happened as I walked through the Scrub over and over. As I wandered, I began to wonder. As I wondered, I stopped. As I stopped, I observed. As I observed, I noticed, as Lisa puts it. And then, at last, I started to see and to learn.

Something else happened, too. I began to inhabit the world around me during those walks. Inhabitation — it’s a powerful word. Maybe it’s pretentious. Maybe it’s corny? And yet that’s how it feels.

It never stops, this seeing, learning, wondering, inhabiting. That’s another kind of miracle.

The pictures in this post are photographs I’ve taken over the years on my walks through the Scrub. Here you can see it in its many moods, its many seasons, its many tempers. I don’t know if my photographs can convey the wonder I felt as I took them, or the remembered sense of discovery I feel now when I return to them, but I hope that they convey, at least, the deep joy that my wandering has brought me.

That’s the thing, you see — noticing is both a humble and a joyful process. It’s a privilege to inhabit this kind of joy.

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§ 5 Responses to Inhabitant

  • fifteenacres says:

    Thank you Rebecca – Inhabitation is a great way to describe it. I also found peace in my daily walks. Before we moved to the bush I was an inside person, content with books and writing. Now I get fidgety if I can’t get out for my walk. It calms my mind and was a solace through an extended illness (now passed, thankfully). As you say, it brings joy too. Our place is small enough that I check on individual plants – to see if the wallaby has chewed off the top, to check when it will flower, or to mourn that it has disappeared. There is an intimacy in this.

    I enjoyed reading ‘Inhabit’ and smile with recognition at the Chocolate Lilies and Guinea Flowers. Some of the other flowers are new to me, so I am tempted to look them up too! 🙂

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks for your lovely message, Lisa. I’m so glad that, like me, your walks through the bush have brought you solace and good health. I will continue to read and enjoy your blog(s) :).

  • Eliza Waters says:

    It isn’t easy to describe the connection one feels to a place, but you’ve done well here, Rebecca. I’ve been walking our plot of land for over 26 years and I do believe my energy, breathing in and out, is intertwined with all the living things here, like a giant interconnected web. It may sound strange to one who has never experienced it, but many native cultures who honored this bond, had words to describe it. We are not separate from earth, but a part of it. I wish more people recognized this!

  • […] has been learning to spend my days looking outward rather than inward (about which, more here and, in a funny way, […]

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