Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Necklace, A Walk and Ronnie

On Sunday afternoon I walked through “my” bush for the first time in over a week. The bush where almost every day for 13 years I have walked first with Maggie and now with little Archer. It was as if I had stepped onto another planet, strange black moon like surfaces with craters and blackened rocks, strands of trees, and silence. Absolute silence. An acrid smell.
Then a flock of pelicans swooped over, their wings beating rhythmically, I took a breath, and another step, to my left was the bush I know and love.
The fire has stopped at a main walking path and been contained to a central strip of the bush. As we wandered along I felt my spirits sink, and rise in time with my steps. My mind whirling with thoughts of loss, the blessing that no human lives were lost here, and a few of those pointless “Why? Questions”. Actually it appears some boys wanted to see if they could copy the fires on the other side of our great country.
Towards the end of our walk we met Ronnie, an old aboriginal man with a shock of white hair, and a welcoming smile. Ronnie’s mixed use of English, Aboriginal English and Noongar combined with his lack of teeth made communication interesting. But we chatted for more than hour. Ronnie often explaining his stories with drawings in the sand.
When I offered the comment that it was a ‘shame about the fire’ a torrent of positive results was released. First Ronnie cheekily informed me cooking had been made easy as his family had gathered all the animals killed in the fire and taken them home for the weeks meat, and the freezer was full.
Then Ronnie showed me a plant which a week after the fire was splitting and releasing seeds, seeds which are apparently the food of echidnas (the Australian spiny ant eater, similar to a porcupine). It is a long time since I last saw an echidna in that bush but Ronnie showed me a couple of echidna homes. He told me with many gestures and pictures drawn in the sand that by this time next year I will see them regularly - and cheekily added, I would have to keep my eyes open and walk at the right time. As I have seen them before I guess I will again.

This necklace was begun a long time ago and finally it has sung, I pulled the old version apart and now the birds fly above fire coloured beads and rocks. A song of renewal.


lindacreates said...

Julie, your post was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your soul. It was wonderful hearing the view of the Aboriginal man. I saw the movie Australia and learned so much history about your country.

Jacky said...

Great post Julie and so lovely to hear Ronnies perspective of the fire and the positives for his family and the bushland. Such a shame though that fire was bought about those young boys trying to copycat the fires in Victoria. Very scary thought.
I love the post below too as there are so many animals injured and traumatised by the fires...Wonderful photo of the koala's in the boxes with their gumleaves and blankets being taken care of.

Janet said...

Love this post! Even out of devastation and sadness comes some good. Fire is so destructive but from it comes renewal of plants, and that's definitely a positive. Ronnie sounds like a wise man. How lucky you were to spend some time with him.

Steph said...

Woww Great post! Love the story and the necklace! Hope all your fur babies are fine!

Sam Marshall said...

Hi Julie,
What a lovely post. It amazing to look at a situation from a different view. Love your renewal necklace, too.

kelsey said...

Fire has always been a disaster/blessing intertwined here in Australia hasn't it Julie! Lots of the plants and trees wouldn't survive without the fires as they need them to regenerate but I too feel sad about the animals. I'm pretty sure that a lot of them have a sixth sense about that sort of thing. Their sense of smell is acute and I'm confident that a lot of them manage to get themselves out of danger before it strikes.

Betzie said...

Enjoyed reading your post must be so devastating for so many, and yet Ronnie surely was a good one to meet that day. Life is a msytery that's for sure. I love your necklace. Hugs, betzie

Genevieve said...

How lovely to chat to Ronnie and learn. I look forward to the orchids that will rise from the ashes after our control burn later this autumn.


Me said...

Thank you for sharing this painful but beautiful journey. I enjoyed Ronnie's sunny outlook too.

Thanks for the fun comment on my photo - it is good to be reminded that while for some it is work - for others like your Dad it is passion - the way it should be...

Holly Loves Art said...

Such a lovely story. When I first read "Ronnie".... I thought... is she writing about Dot's cat? ha ha!

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend.


Dot said...

Sorry I missed this post Julie. I felt very uplifted after I had read it.

And enjoyed Ronnie's perspective on the fires and the positive things it can bring. What a privilege to meet him!

Such a shame though that some silly boy's lit the fire as a copycat for our Victorian fires. I don't understand how some people think.

You are a beautiful writer and I always enjoy reading your words.

And that necklace is beautiful, just beautiful.

Laughed at Holly's comment about Ronnie - don't think my Ronnie is quite as wise as the Ronnie you met :)

See you SOON!

Dotee xoxo

Dot said...

P.S I adore those birds you used on this necklace. Are they metal?

Dawnie said...

Beautifully written my friend .