All posts tagged: nature

Of things unknown and longed for still

Every morning I watch the seagulls fly over the canal from the deck of my new home, a houseboat in the centre of Amsterdam. They are experts at catching an updraft, familiar with every twist and turn of the waterways, expending energy only when needed. Unlike the seagulls though, I am bewildered by my new surroundings. I feel like a fledgling pulsing between fascination and a desperate need to return to the nest. Moving countries can do that to you, especially if you’ve spent the last 6 years living in the Australian wilderness with only forest for company. When I was young, I dreamt I could fly too. I soared high above mountains and through valleys. I wasn’t a bird in my dreams. I was me, flying. It felt completely natural and it was exhilarating. I haven’t experienced anything quite like it since. It coincided with a childhood exploring the woods surrounding my home, boundless and free of self-doubt.

What does not bend, breaks

Now that we’ve set a departure date, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how much living in this wild place, often alone, has changed me. In particular, and inspired by a grove of bamboo that I’ve only just learned to love, how much stronger I’ve become. Backwoods living has tested my strength physically and emotionally and I’ve discovered a depth of resourcefulness I never knew I had. I am proud of my strong arms and that I’m no longer afraid when I hear wild dogs howling at the moon or when I wake up to the smell of bushfires in the forest at night. What’s absent now though is the stubborn, white knuckled and rigid view of strength I came here with. A softer more intelligent strength has taken its place. A strength that is not afraid of bowing humbly before adversity knowing just like the bamboo, it will bend and not break. I lost a lot of metaphorical stems along the way though before I realised my un natural view of strength no longer …

Why am I leaving this!

Dear Hearts, while I wait for a departure date to drop into my lap, I’ve been musing about some last lingering doubts and about Nature, my harshest and wisest teacher. ‘Why am I leaving this!” I’ve been asking myself this question nearly every morning for weeks now as I sit, often uncomfortably, in the uncertainty of not knowing where to from here. A trigger for all of the lingering doubts about our decision to leave to come back and torment me. It’s winter here in Australia, and along with Autumn, it’s my favourite time of year. Full of cold nights with the fire on, blue sky days and lovely walks safe in the knowledge that all of the the creatures that can kill me are sleeping! There’s a gentleness to the wilderness now that allows me to exhale after the intensity of summer. To fully relax into myself and into nature.

Living the dream

I’ve been trying to write this post since March, the five year anniversary of our move from the city to the bush. I could say that life got in the way, that I was too busy but that would only be partly true. The real truth is that I’ve been procrastinating, making excuses because I knew writing it would be hard. Hard because after 5 years of ‘living the dream’ we’ve decided to follow our hearts back to the city. How do you celebrate something and leave it at the same time without feeling like somehow you’ve failed? I realised as much as wanted to, I couldn’t let this milestone pass because an anniversary is more than a celebration of the start of something it is also an opportunity to take stock of where you are now and how far you’ve come. To reflect on all of the things you didn’t know then but do now. That day back in the beginning, I burst into tears as the removal truck made it’s way up our …

After the flood

Finally last weekend, after months of extreme heat and little rain, we got our first summer flood. And it was a proper flood, isolating many small communities along the waterways that weave their way through the local river valleys. I realised that of all the things that I cherish about living here, it’s these flood days that I love the most. That might sound strange but floods are part of life here and, most of the time, they are an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the serenity. I think they’re also a rite of passage. You haven’t truly lived here until you’ve experienced a flood. I still remember the excitement of our first one. We couldn’t wait to get down to the river and watch the bridge disappear. We had three that first summer, one isolating us for 5 days and leaving us with out power for longer. Since that time we’ve had many more with each one a time for rich connection with family, neighbours and neighbours we never knew we had. Even hermits come out to …

Rose is a rose…loveliness extreme

We’ve been back from the cooler climes of the Northern Hemisphere for a month now and the summer we’ve returned to has been brutal. Two days ago we reached a record breaking temperature of 48.9 degrees celsius, the hottest place on earth according to some news reports. Extreme heat like that silences and suffocates everything in its wake. It might sound dramatic, but it feels like we’ve been in survival mode for weeks. Another valuable lesson in surrendering to the dictation of nature and a frightening glimpse into our global warming future. But thankfully today I’m exhaling deeply and breathing in the sweet smell of rain. The forest is alive again with the sounds of the animal world. After nearly 5 years living in this wild and sometimes extreme landscape, I remain in awe of the power of the natural world. I’ve come to realise that to flourish in this wild place, I must also be fierce and irrepressible. To stand steady amid the chaos and boldly express my own true nature. That’s when the magic …

Not drowning, waving…

Today I woke up to the smell of smoke, not unusual for this time of year, but today it was close enough to see the flumes lapping over the ridge line 5 kms away. Our valley usually floods at this time of year and the local saying is that someone only has to pee upstream and we’re under. In this age of climate change, it seems not even Bellingen is drought proof. Earlier this week we moved to level 3 water restrictions and at this rate, with no rain forecast, we’ll be at level 4 very soon, the first time in nearly 30 years. Despite her resilience, it’s clear nature does not have an endless supply of resources and when the balance is out, she’s vulnerable just like us.

(What’s so funny ’bout) peace, love and understanding

Lately I’ve felt very grateful for the isolation of my hilltop perch far removed from the chaos of global affairs. Has the world really become an uncertain, turbulent and unharmonious place to be right now?  The lyrics of Elvis Costello’s “what’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding” couldn’t be more relevant. As is my bent, I started thinking about what we can learn from nature and her wisdoms to help us make sense of it all.

Where ever you go you take yourself with you

I was keenly anticipating the super moon this week, excited to bath in her once in a lifetime luminescence. Even from our hillside perch overlooking the east coast, she remained mostly hidden behind a veil of cloud, showing us only fleeting glimpses. I read that this Taurus super moon was a time to reflect on what really matters and to assess whether we are living in alignment with our true values and purpose. A perfect opportunity to connect deeply with our authentic selves. Like most journeys of personal growth and recalibration, this moon was a slow reveal, gathering in momentum and culminating in a sublime showing when the conditions were right. This is not unlike my journey of transformation since arriving in the country. Sometimes propelled along by a desperate need to make sense of challenging circumstances but mostly in response to a growing desire to reconnect with my higher self and true purpose. In the process of managing life, multitasking and trying to prove myself, I lost touch with what really ignited my spirit and what …

My life with spiders

Lately I’ve felt that familiar anxious feeling, the one that comes each year with the onset of spring. To hurry up and get on top of things before summer hits and you’re under siege again. The cicadas are back, baby ants are hatching and spiders are busy making their webs with increased vigour. The natural world is stirring from its winter hibernation. My home, like the forests and river valley that surround me, has its own tiny ecosystem with its own seasonal ebbs and flows. I’ve come to realise that the arrival of these little creatures is a reminder to surrender to the things I can’t control. To accept that by choosing to live within nature I must adapt to my surroundings and not the other way around. I am the introduced species here after all. I’m resisting the urge to fight this invasion because like most things in life, its about balance, finding that elusive sweet spot.