Today is the first day of spring!  I woke early and savoured the moment.

The word ‘spring’ is joyous in any context.  Flowers have appeared in thousands where ever one looks.  For the last two weeks the park down the street has been overrun by the birds.  The Wood Ducks are guarding a patch of grass from animals, birds, and people.  I suspect their family is hidden there.  Across to the pond, the other Wood Duck family have hatched.  Fluffy and gorgeous!   They have kept a smile on my face long after I encounter them on my walk.  The Black Swan is stunning.  Seeing me approach the lake he swims off regally to his mate.  Together they guard their cygnets.  I’m surprised to see they are born white!  There is so much I don’t know.  The Little Corella look splendid as they saunter along the grass.  They are fearless.  I walk under canopies of them.

In my garden the jonquils are blooming in clusters like a mop of curls on a child’s head.  The honeysuckle catches the morning light.  The jasmine is budding.  The giant mulberry tree is a tangle of limbs.  A tiny green speck signals growth, and gives hope.

That’s what spring means to me.  Hope.  It is a generous gift from Nature in an annual reminder.  What is buried deep in the darkest of winter, will push through, will rise, will bloom, will be beautiful again.

I want to bottle the quiet moment I experienced this morning so I can open it anytime in the future, like an unexpected gift.  With curiosity, with happiness, with hope.  It is where the child in me lives.  It is a place worth revisiting.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


Curiosity and Wisdom

What makes us wiser?  Curiosity or wisdom?  Perhaps, this reflection is a chicken or egg question.

I have returned home to a park that is alive.  The birds have taken over.  (More pictures to come).  The wood duck has nine ducklings, hatched last week.  Out of the nine, two are constantly by each other’s side.  For ease of reference, I identify them as ‘The Twins’.  Then, there is one.  Solo.  Adventurous, curious, brave.  Always out doing her own thing.  I can relate to this little one!

After a recent storm I could not find the duck family.  I scanned the edge of the pond without success.  Then, mother shifted her weight and I saw eight ducks were tucked safe under her wings.  And, there was Solo.  Looking around at the world as it unfolded before her.  The Little Corellas were scrambling noisily for best position among the tree tops.  Bravely, she stood and watched the commotion.  A moment so precious!  At the other end of the spectrum was an old Corella.  The Sage.  Silently watching life as it was for him, in another time, in another space.  Right now, content to watch, he had no issues with the other birds.  And, they let him alone.  Broken beak, and all.

Life for me is like that.  A curious child, long before the internet, I poured over books.  I wanted to know what, when, why, and how.  But, there are times I sit back and watch.  Silently.  I watch life unfolding as it is meant to be.  And, I’m not disappointed.

Has the curious child learned there is value in this?  I’m not sure whether this is wisdom.  But if I were to answer the question in a word, it is a resounding, “Yes”!

I’m off again.  Life has been busy.  But, not too busy to share Solo and the Sage, with you.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The Mindful Observer

My work promotes objective observation.  From that perspective, there is value in this.

But I have found, the value gained from observation, is also subjectively immeasurable.  Nature has taught me this.  Unexpected value.  And, delight.  Delight in those still moments between movements.  Between sounds.  Between words.  Between people.  Fleeting stillness.  A moment so silent, it captures all senses in one scoop.

I found this on one of my trips to the southwest region of Western Australia.

While enjoying the activity around me I noticed some birds take time out.  Mindfully.  They observe.  Sometimes, for a nanosecond.  And, when I’m trying to capture the moment, they take time to observe my fumbling attempts!  Zooming in on a New Holland honeyeater I found they have a slender tube like structure at the end of their beak.  Exquisitely slender and delicate, no doubt functional for dipping deep into flowers for nectar.  Always dazzled by their striking plumage, I had never noticed this before.  Panning around me I saw a bird, larger than a silver eye and somewhat similar to the honeyeater.  Unusual.  Almost hybrid-like.  Alone it darted about anxiously among flocks of other species.  It finally flew down briefly before me.  A white naped honeyeater!  Beautiful!  I’ve been to this garden cafe a few times before.  What else did I miss?  The old ‘dunny’ (outdoor toilet of a bygone era) listing along with trees that suggested, the winds from the ocean blows strong.  Within the crumpled paper white petals of the poppy, bees dusting themselves in yolk yellow pollen.  They seem to know, spring is nearly here.  And, there were diamonds strewn across the humble nasturtiums leaves, seen by only those who rise early, before sun, the thief.

There is a difference between looking and observing.  A gap as wide as talking and listening.  There is power in observation, as there is in silence.  But, only if it is practiced mindfully.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

Dawn in Kooljaman (Cape Leveque)

The first time I visited Kooljaman a friend drove me up from Broome, and we stayed for sunset.  I knew immediately I also wanted to experience waking up at Kooljaman (Cape Leveque) one day.

Kooljaman is the Aboriginal name.  A remote wilderness camp it is run by Aboriginal people and tourism is seasonal here due to the weather.  We checked in when it was already dark after a rough ride on dirt tracks with no lighting or directions.  Silence kept us company for the best part of the drive and in retrospect, reflected our concern about getting bogged.  Once at camp we soon realised the sliding door lock was broken in the cabin.  We were expected to sleep in an unlocked room where there is no phone service.  Reassured by management we were perfectly safe, it was an uneasy night.  We put a broken broom in the door for some semblance of safety.  We are city folks after all!  My anxiety heightened every time I heard rustling outdoors, knowing it was something that slithered.  I sat up in bed well before dawn and waited for light.  My excitement to see the first rays over the northern most part of the Dampier Peninsular overcame all fears.  Soon I dressed in semi darkness, ignored the rustling outdoors and headed out with camera in hand.

I was surprised to see how basic the camp was, but thrilled to be outdoors.  The only human out at that hour as far as I could tell.  But, I was not alone.  I followed a wallaby’s prints into the bush but could not spot it.  I then headed to the beach, the markings of bird and snake, unmistakable in the dirt.  The land here is red.  Against an azure sea, it is stunning.  The cliffs have been stroked by the sea, leaving tell tale striation that is beautiful.  The first light over Western Beach was breathtaking.  Soon the air was alive with birdsong.  Almost impossible to see in the canopy, they went about their business of dipping into flowers for nectar.  The double barred finches were at my feet, finding breakfast in the scrub.  A tiny honeyeater, and I mean tiny, sat and watched the world wake.  A magnificent, huge wedge tail eagle glided above like an airliner.  The warmth of the day brought out the Gilbert’s Dragon, the rocks providing a perfect backdrop.  And, against the harsh beauty of the Kimberley, one of my favourite flowers found in this region, the boab flower, bloomed.

This is a place where whales come to calf in the pristine waters.  It is rich in history.  It is rich in spirit.  It enriches one’s spirit.  It is a place where one wants to see the footprints of Nature, but reluctant to leave anything else but one’s heart behind.

I will return.  Next time, for longer.

As always

a dawn bird


Travelling companions

I have been to Kooljaman (Cape Leveque) twice in the last three years.  And, will return to this remote, incredibly beautiful part of Western Australia, about 220 kms north of Broome.  It leads to beautiful Cygnet Bay and the pearl farm I wrote about earlier.  Along the way are small Aboriginal communities of Lombadina, Beagle Bay, Middle Lagoon, and One Arm Point.  I will post photographs of these places later.

The road out of Broome is sealed and then there is approximately 90 kms of unsealed road.  We went in the wet season after the area received heavy rains a couple of weeks before our trip.  In the wet season the road often closes for obvious reasons.  With only seaplane or light aircraft or boat to take people to Broome, the area becomes inaccessible by road.  Not wanting to get cut off, my travelling companion and I kept a wary eye on the latest weather reports.

In December the heat was intense but it dried up the rain soaked roads for the best part of the journey.  The road was powder sand in some areas, in others, it was like chocolate mousse.  My travelling companion’s driving skills in our hired 4WD were tested, but we made it out the other end and back again without drama.  At times, a solitary car in the opposite direction made its presence known by a cloud of dust.  The road shared by both cars climbing the ridged edges to find firmer ground was a carnival ride.  Our bones rattling in heavily corrugated earth kept us silent for short bursts while we noted tombstones of cars at eye level.  I would never travel this road unless I had utmost confidence in my companion’s driving skills.

Travelling as a colleague, as I do with a range of people to these far and remote areas, I follow an interesting routine.  If nominated to go here, I tell management who I want to travel with.  I want someone who is resourceful, who is dependable, who thinks on their feet and is trustworthy.  Someone who is resilient.  I also enjoy travelling with someone who enjoys a good glass of wine and meal but equally is comfortable with water and a muesli bar if there is nothing edible available.  Someone who is not twee and will see the journey as an adventure.

This leads me to reflect …

If life is a journey, who do we choose as our travelling companion?  Do we choose someone we can trust?  Someone we can feel emotional, physically, intellectually and psychologically safe with?  Someone who is good company and a good conversationalist? Someone who is able to communicate in silence as comfortably as with language?  Strikingly, money, physical appearance, age nor status are part of the selection criteria.  At the core of this concept is friendship and companionship.  I regret not knowing this earlier in life.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


A snowdrop bloomed today …


The first of August is always a difficult day for me.  It is the anniversary of my father’s death.  He was with me in spirit all day and I was relieved when work ended so I could have some solitude with my thoughts.  As I walked up the driveway I noticed a solitary snowdrop.  The first early sign of spring, in winter.

There are many symbolisms associated with the snowdrop.  Blooming at the end of winter and signalling spring, naturally, they are thought to represent hope and rebirth.  On the other extreme, some say, even death.  Seeing the first bloom today on the anniversary of my father’s death, I rejoiced.  The flowers were planted by the previous owner and each year I eagerly wait for them to appear.  Today, it felt like a gift from him, to me.  I love these flowers.  Now, even more.

My father was an intelligent man who enjoyed reading.  Books or a cryptic crossword puzzle were telltale signs he was close by.  Legs crossed at the knees, pen in hand, he would peer over his glasses briefly at the world around him.  Deeply interested in politics he hated systemic corruption with a passion.  His best advice to me was to be honest with my taxes.  It would help me sleep well at night!  I follow his advice, and do!  He adored my mother to the end.  She was well loved and respected in the community.  He was more reserved but equally respected.  When he died, as the hearse went through the main street, the shop owners stood outside like a guard of honour.  For a man who was humble, the memory of their show of respect is something that does not fade with time.

During my last year of high school he would wake with me at dawn, make us a cup of tea and while I nested in a bundle of blankets to study for my exams, he would quietly complete a crossword.  When he found I had fallen asleep, he would wake me gently.  He was a pharmaceutical salesman for a major company and travelled extensively in my early childhood.  He would always return with a small gift or biscuits for me.  I would wait every day for his return.  Sometimes, it was months.

My father never got to see my children or enjoy the fruits of my success.  It is something I yearn to share with him.  The little girl in me still waits for him.

I’ve come to realise, when you love someone, waiting is not a difficult thing to do.

As always,

a dawn bird