Pearls

I woke startled.  The clock flashed 3.27 am.  A freight train was going through the home.  The pressure within was intense.  It lasted no more than three minutes.  The wind, the rain, the hail.  It took that long to orient myself to the moment.  The cold front promised for the South West region had crossed further north.  I lay awake for the next few hours trying to visualise myself somewhere else.  Cygnet Bay, some 2300 plus kms north of Perth, on the Dampier Peninsular, came to mind.

Around 220 kms north of Broome, about half of the distance on unsealed, corrugated road, the trip to the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm is a must do.  And, in my opinion, more than once.  Privately owned for seventy years it is a mixture of the old and the new.  The passion of the previous generations, still palpable, in the current one.  The landscape is untouched.  Red (pindan) earth, grey green foliage and the bluest skies and seas.  The air is clean.  There is a serenity here that makes me want to return.  This morning, only in mind.

The drive into the pearl farm is flanked by mango trees.  The Bay is edged by mangroves.  Water, mangroves, the Kimberley Region, usually equate to crocodiles.  Caution is never over estimated.  I’ve been here twice with others.  I still feel like I missed too much.  I want to return to see detail.  Like seed pods on the beach.  Clear pools where mangroves take hold.  The infinity pool is relatively new and perhaps, one of the more modern additions, yet blends beautifully with the landscape.

I absolutely love pearls.  My mother always wore them.  I do too.  I’m aware they are created by discomfort, an irritant.  But then, isn’t life much like this?  It is from discomfort that we grow.

Until next time,

As always

a dawn bird

Experiencing Nature

I returned home last night from the Goldfields.  Predictably, the flight to Kalgoorlie departed an hour later than scheduled.  On arrival the airport seemed somewhat busier.  I hear European accents that I have not heard here before from men dressed in smart business clothing and beautiful shoes.  This is in stark contrast to the high viz clothing and steel capped boots that get removed when walking through Security.  The taxi driver asks me if I have arrived for the Diggers and Dealers Convention, a big event in the calendar around these parts that starts next week.  Suddenly, the unfamiliar makes sense and I return to what is my usual routine here.

Next day the morning goes quickly.  Too quickly.  I need a break.  I drive to the tree park in my lunch hour.  It is the only solitude I get in a busy day.  Shifting mental gears constantly is taxing.  Much to my surprise and disappointment the Arboretum is crowded.  Once into the small car park, I am stuck in a traffic jam of stationary cars.  There are scores of people around.  A closer examination of the crowd reveals they are not from out of town.  These are local teens and adults in their 20s and 30s.  These are Pokemon Go hunters.  I am annoyed!  This is MY park in lunch hour!  I am usually here on my own with just the birds and gum blossom.  To find people intent on looking at their phones instead of enjoying what Nature provides here, is a travesty.  I leave immediately after the drivers in front of me reluctantly look away from their phones and allow their cars to crawl to the left.  To soothe my annoyance I decide to visit again after work and, much to my disappointment, there were more people here!

There is an art and science to being alone and yet, with people, with community.  I recall a visit to Esperance.  Standing at dusk at the top of West Beach I noticed a sole surfer emerging from the sea.  He stood for a while looking at an object in his hands then headed to the small pool near him.  He climbed into it.  As the waves rolled in, childlike, he rolled with it.  Submerging himself and then sitting up, his back to me.  He did it several times.  I was curious.  Perhaps he was fishing or looking for molluscs.  Then, a tiny glow caught my eye.  He communicated in an unmistakable ‘rock on’ gesture either in a selfie or to someone on the screen.  His delight was contagious.  And, shared immediately.  He then rolled into another wave, disappearing for a few seconds, at one with the sea.

Perhaps I am from a different generation.  I use technology to see the world, not find the world in it.  It is heartening, there are others, who do too.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

Enchanted, in Esperance

After heavy rains, my anxiety of flying to Esperance in a small plane was heightened.  The airport was crowded with miners.  I thought either flights were cancelled or else I have caught a swing shift mid week.  With no logo identifying my airline on one of the three gates, for a fleeting moment I wondered if I had arrived at the wrong airport.  Then I saw a queue of people, young and old, in wheelchairs, on crutches or supported by walking sticks.  Folks who had come to the city for treatment, returning home.  It confirmed, the short queue was for Esperance!

On arrival it was surprising to see Esperance dimly lit in the afternoon.  Cresting the ridge at the highest point in town and under the canopy of dark clouds was the familiar panorama of Dempster Head at West Beach.  It never fails to take my breath away.  A favourite spot for young teen surfers who seem to brave any weather.  With barely an hour of sunlight I made the most of my time outdoors with camera, despite being bent in half by icy winds.  Next morning it was a quick drive to the other side of town, to Wylie Bay, another favourite spot for surfers.  Flanked by rural properties and scrub the birdlife here is prolific but unfortunately, due to weather, they remained sheltered.  So it was just the magnificent horse, standing still, a silhouette of perfection in the early morning sun.  Little did I know that was the last I would see of the sun until the weekend.  It rained and the winds howled in rage for two days.

After an extraordinarily busy two day schedule, I went to bed at 12:30 am after setting my alarm.  I was flying home next morning and the party of contracted road workers in my block, were not.  At 6:29 am, as is my habit, I woke a minute before my alarm went off.  Mindful of their hangovers, I rolled over quickly to switch it off.  The momentum carried me off the bed.  I landed with a resounding thud on the floor, my right calf now in the teeth of a vicious cramp.  Lying on the carpet, helpless with laughter and pain, I could only wish for a better day!  And, it was.  The sun was out and I had a window of a few minutes to walk down to Museum Park before check out.  The pond is always interesting but this morning I found solitude among the trees.

On this trip I saw Esperance as many other people see it with a shudder.  Wild, windy and cold.  It is my first experience of real winter here, despite visiting at least once a month, for several years.  It was a different space.  I realised Esperance has many seasons in a day, even in summer, but there are some familiar self-designated spaces where I am enchanted time and again.  I carried that perspective with me, determined to replicate this in my home.

So, with help from my young family yesterday, I am now in a study that faces East.  I have desk space of 12 feet.  Interestingly with more space, I have gone minimalist.  There is no clutter.  There is a place for everything and everything is in its place.  Overlooking the roses, the former study is now the library, a room where I can truly relax.  With these changes, not yet 24 hours old, my home is casting a spell.  I am enchanted with my home, my space, already.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

 

 

 

Winter in Bridgetown, Western Australia

Bridgetown, is some 250 km in the South West of Western Australia.  You head down to Bunbury, a two hour drive on a straight highway and then turn east.  Another hour or so of winding, undulating roads, flanked by orchards and farmland and you arrive at Bridgetown, a quiet, staid place known for its annual Jazz Festival.  I love this town.  It has historic architecture with many of the buildings on the main street being over 100 years old, rolling hills, excellent pub food, a renowned cidery and busy theatre.  It has an air of rural gentility that is palpable.

Winter in Bridgetown is cold but made warmer by splashes of sunshine yellow acacia that bloom on tall trees or hedges, wherever you look.  Quite stunning!  One of my favourite stops is near the river where a historic property, now a 5 acre bed and breakfast place.  The barn is a treasure trove of goodies and where you can always find Christmas ornaments.  The entrance is highlighted by the quirky pig statue.  The property eases down into the Blackwood River and where the geese are usually found.  I stopped here for respite from the storm on the way home, to find flower berries hung like a chandelier in the rain.  Then saw the geese.  For a split moment, their stillness, their perfection made me think they were garden ornaments!  The success of this historic place rests with the owners who have been excellent custodians of this property.  Their research has kept the history alive.  Sadly, the husband passed away two years ago.  I missed his presence.  It is a big business to manage single handedly and a responsibility that his wife has assumed with grace.  I felt a huge sense of empathy for her.

No sooner had I pulled away when the rain came down again and I sought refuge in another car park.  Thinking about my conversation a few minutes earlier about death and grief, I had time to think about my own mortality.  I’ve updated my will but had to decide what I wanted done with my ashes.  I always thought I’d like them scattered in the ocean.  But when talking to my children they reminded me I’m afraid of water!  My son then suggested, why not in the forest where one is always surrounded by birds.  How perceptive of him!  Yes, I am happy surrounded by birds.  I look for them.  I’m delighted by their behaviour.

As if in response to my thoughts, the sun had a ta da moment.  The rain stopped.  Glancing out the window I noticed a slight movement among the leaves and zooming in found it was a wren, but not blue.  Hopping nearby was a silvereye, eating insects that dropped off the acacia.  Exquisite!

My son is right.  When I pass, my spirit will always be free because I will be resting on the wings of birds.

As always,

a dawn bird

 

The Water Wheel

Cape Leeuwin is the most south western tip of the continent of Australia.  The coast is wild, rugged and beautiful.  Just over 50 kms from Margaret River, it is one of my favourite places to visit whenever I head this far south from Perth.

Yes, the Leeuwin Lighthouse is spectacular.  It sits at the point where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet.  Built in the late 1800s, the Lighthouse as well as the cottages inhabited by those who tended it, are a must see in this region.  I visit the Lighthouse almost out of a sense of duty, because the tourist brochure says I must.  But I am always more eager to visit the nearby Water Wheel.

Leaving the Lighthouse there is no sign to the Water Wheel.  The sign is visible only as you are entering it.  Dazzled by the coastline is it possible people forget to visit this little pocket of historical importance as they leave.  I know to take the first left off the sealed road and onto graded dirt track, a short distance to the small car park.  It is rare to find people here.  The first time I found this place I watched a seagull spa happily in the spring.  Then I found a pair of rubber thongs, neatly placed on the rocks.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  I never did find the fisherman.

The Water Wheel is fed by the fresh spring.  This is limestone country, so the wheel has calcified over the years.  It was life for the keepers of the Lighthouse.  The spring is audible even against the roar of giant surf.  I love this little area.  It is full of history.  In the stillness of thought, you can almost hear children’s laughter.

I visited a day when there was a break in winter storms.  Perhaps that is why I found no birds except for the solitary Sooty Oystercatcher, looking spectacular in black with vivid orange eyes and beak.  It ignored my presence as it continued with the forage on rocks.

Whenever I visit the Water Wheel I feel like I’m visiting a rich indulgent relative because there is something generous about a fresh spring.  Despite storm clouds above, it gurgles like laughter.  It has an energy.  A visual reminder.  Life.

With one last look and a deep breath, I reluctantly left the Water Wheel as I watched cars in my rear view mirror.  They drove away from the area without turning left.  Sadly, they don’t know what they missed.

Until next time

As always,

a dawn bird

 

Manjimup, tall timber country

I have returned home after less than two days in Manjimup.  This is tall timber country that hosts a cherry festival in summer and more recently, the area is becoming known for black truffles.  It is a small community.  People immediately recognise one from being out of town.  The talk is always light and friendly and ends with a warm, “have a safe journey home”.  This time, the farewell had special relevance.  The winds were strong, with constant rain.  Starting my return journey, I was exactly 333 kms from home.  The thought of driving along winding roads flanked by tall old timber in a storm, was daunting.  And, it was.

Despite the rain I found a few moments early morning to walk in the Timber Park while waiting for breakfast.  The only protea, just waiting to bloom, shone bright like a torch in the sombre day.  I had not noticed before, the colours of the native flowers, the pink gum blossoms, the delicate vine growing Flame pea flower, and yellow wattle which I will post later, were more vivid.  To match this, the wings of the New Holland honeyeater and the underbelly of the Red Western Wattlebird were a brighter shade of yellow.  The white breasted robin, shy, quiet and non-descript, was just as beautiful.  It stayed with me in the deep shrub, watching me with curiosity, but just out of reach of my lens, to get that perfect picture.  They are shy, co-operative birds that help each other.  I am always surprised and delighted when I see one.  They are so silent in the scrub and I find them by movement alone.  By that I mean, the slightest movement of leaves, signals their presence.  In contrast, the wattlebirds and honeyeaters are noisy and are always in company.  While eating breakfast I noticed a honeyeater clinging to the edge of the canvas canopy, waiting for the insects to roll towards its beak!  In a garden of plenty, it found a different way, an ingenious way, to feed.

It was an interesting thing to observe the honeyeater on the anniversary of the day when I resigned from secure government employment, to venture into the unknown world of small business.  In the last few years, like the honeyeater, in a garden of plenty, there are times I have to be creative.  There are times when I just have to hold on.  But, at all times, I know, I have a strong backup plan.  My faith gives me wings.

May your day be blessed by what you see and experience.

As always,

a dawn bird

 

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Meelup Beach

Mention Meelup Beach and you’ll get a predictable, “Oh! it’s beautiful!” response from those who have visited this region.  Located some 250+ kms in the southwest region of Western Australia, it is a small beach that spills off parklands of gum trees.  There have been times we have seen kangaroos nibbling on grass nearby.  While my daughter and her boyfriend scoured the beach, I was, of course, chasing birds when I saw something starkly white in a tree.  I zoomed in and was delighted to see a kookaburra sitting silently.

Kookaburras are large but squat looking birds.  They are fluffy and have a huge beak.  They have an intelligent look in their eyes.  They are master hunters and target food with great accuracy.  Their flight is surprising silent.  Like unrequited love.

We left Meelup Beach and headed towards Castlerock, shimmering in the distance.  I had never been to that area before.  But as I had company for part of this holiday and young people adventurous to explore new places, I’ve found another ‘must visit again’ place.

This region of Western Australia has a charm of its own.  There is a gentility and grace that comes from a combination of tall timber and bluest water.  Living in Eagle Bay is for millionaires, I’m sure.  We came across fabulous homes tucked away in bushland, yet, just across from the water.  But give me a tent under those peppermint gum trees so I can wake to the laughter of kookaburras, and I would be the richest girl in the world.

I’m off to taller timber country today in the south west, but this time, further away from the coast and headed east.  It will be cold there!  It is cherry country in summer, and in winter, well known for the much sought after truffles.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird