Diwali

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This week Indians around the world will celebrate the festival of Diwali.  A festival that celebrates good over evil, light over darkness through lighting decorations and spectacular fireworks.

As a child growing up in India, Diwali was anticipated with delight.  Hundreds of earthenware saucers would be bought and the children would sit with adults in circles and roll wickers of cotton wool between their palms.  The saucers would be placed in decorative fashion around home, the wickers placed in them, and oil poured carefully to fill the saucers.  At dusk the wickers would be lit.  It cast a soft glow.  It was fairyland.  Then came the fireworks.  Huge explosions in the sky and the triangles that shot spouts of fire from ground level.  The strings of red ‘crackers’ that skidded around or leapt in the air.  The ‘bees’, tiny curled fireworks that buzzed unpredictably from the ground and into the sky.  (How did that ever pass the safety inspection!).  The nervous and raucous laughter of teens who loved the dance of danger.  People would be dressed in new clothing.  Homes would be thoroughly spring cleaned.  Strangers were welcomed by genteel hospitality.  Trays of sweets and goodies would be sent around the neighbourhood as a gesture of celebration and good will.  The premise being, the more you give, the more blessings you receive in return.  So largesse, was the order of the day.

Although my birth country may have changed now from when I left it, the memories remain and have shaped who I am today.

I believe in the bond of true friendship.  The kind that gives, more than it takes.  I believe when we engage with others this way, we celebrate life.  We celebrate being alive.

I have no fireworks or earthenware sauces to light today except the fireworks that Mother Nature has provided and the wish that your heart, home and life be lit with love, light and prosperity at Diwali.

I will light a tea light at dusk scented with essential oils of ‘Peace’.  When I do, I will think of you.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

 

 

 

Big Swamp, Bunbury, Western Australia

 

How often has one heard someone suggest, “You should …” and never follow up on the suggestion?  Of course, when the place being suggested is called, quite simply, “Big Swamp” and does not even have ‘The’ to distinguish it, one can be fooled into thinking it is an ordinary place.

With an early start back to Perth I knew I had a full day’s work ahead of me.  Decision making has been weighing me down lately.  Even the several hours of solitary driving, on other trips, would have been a welcomed space to reflect and plan.  But, not this morning.  I felt swamped.  Utterly swamped.

I drove out of the hotel at 4.30 am to clear my head.  A lone dolphin broke the surface intermittently at Koombana Bay.  Two fishermen, launching their boat at Leschenault Inlet, were surprised to see me up so early and in typically Australian vernacular, say, “You’re up early mate!”  “I keep fishermen and farmers’ hours”, I tell them.  Their laughter rises above the throttle of the engine.

Still restless, and with the sun now fully crested, I drove down Ocean Drive looking for coffee.  Then I remembered ‘Big Swamp’.  I turned left and found it with ease.  I circuited Prince Philip Drive and Tuart Street a couple of times.  My attempt at recon, this being unfamiliar territory.

I park my car and watch a man with a boxer and a smaller dog stop and let a duck and six ducklings cross in front of them.  Within striking distance, the dogs are still and silent. People and animals live in harmony here.  I step out of my car to air that is alive with the sound of birds and “Good morning”.  I am home.

The peppermint gum tree, an ordinary looking tree, has tendrils of beautiful delicate flowers.  The grove of paperbark trees is an enchanted forest.  The honeyeaters, loud.  The bottlebrush, much like me, is bursting to bloom.  The New Holland honeyeater is bold, flies past my nose and clutches a flower less than six inches away from me, tilting his head with curiosity.  So close, my camera is difficult to focus, so I move away.  He stays.  This is his territory.  I see native wildflowers entwined in embrace.

By now, like a wild child, I know no boundaries because none were imposed.  I stop for a moment, confused, and try to find my bearings, when suddenly, and perfectly, the Splendid Blue Wren, dropped from the tree on the ground before me, like a bright blue leaf.

I left Big Swamp reluctantly, making a silent promise.  I will return.  It is no longer unfamiliar territory.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

Love, Broome

In a coastal town deep in the south west, the surf was pounding at my feet below while I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of buttered toast and Vegemite.  A movement caught my eye and I glanced up.

She is seated near by, almost within arm’s reach.  The skin on her face moves like a concertina accordion in motion.  She is playing the music of smiles between strangers.  Hesitant, unsure.  We hold each other gaze a moment longer, and the moment sets her face aglow.  Her smile comes from a place where she keeps good memories.  Encouraged she says, with utter delight, “You’re a Vegemite kid!”  We both laugh at the incongruity of this observation.

We start talking and she tells me she is from Broome.  “I’ve just returned from there!” I respond, the comment invigorates a new friendship.  “I lived there from the war years until 1954”.  An only daughter among several sons, she lived free among the mangroves.  “Of course, there were snakes, but no crocodiles”, she tells me in a hushed voice of caution.  “There was only Chinatown.  Now …” her voice fades wistfully.

I tell her about Crab Creek where I watched birds live in harmony and the red earth bleed into the sea, my attempts at photographing the lesser sand plover at Cable Beach, the pindan cliffs of Roebuck Bay at dawn, the Shinju Matsuri Festival where art finds a home on shore.  Our smiles find a resting place here too.  Soon, her elderly husband helps her up on her crutches.  She limps to the door way, stops and turns around to look one last time.  Nostalgia is reflected in her eyes as blue as the sea she frolicked in, and as warm as the sun above it.  She is not looking at me, but at her beloved Broome.

Little did she know, so was I.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” Theodore Roethke


It’s a beautiful Sunday.  Spring has arrived late.  Overwhelmed by the demands and deadlines I have to meet, I impulsively dressed and escaped by driving 70 kms to visit Araluen Botanic Gardens.  I went to see the tulips.  They bloom beautifully, all 100,000 or so in spring.  But, I was two weeks too late.

The gardens are undulating.  The eye candy helped me stop and catch my breath.  Among thousands of flowers, the ones that caught my eye were the ones that shone in the light.  The light, it seemed, came from within.

What comes from within is important.  It is nurtured there by self, and adjusted by others, throughout one’s lifespan.  Nature and nurture.  If the combination is right.  If the influences are right.  You get an optimum result.

Every so often I come across people where this calibration has gone wrong.  When it does, it is quite tragic.  What doesn’t shine, shows.  It is visible to all except self.  And, therein lies the tragedy.

May you find the right light to guide you today.

Until next time,

As always

a dawn bird

@ dawn

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“If life had a second edition, how would I correct the proofs”, so said John Clare.

For me, every day is a second edition.

We are always given a chance to ‘correct’, modify, clarify, consolidate, reflect, edit, amend, add.  For me, this process starts at dawn.

Reflection can be uncomfortable for some but, over time, it can become a place of sanctuary.  A place of renewal. When we practice this consciously, mindfully, we enrich our life and of those who cross our path.

May you find a few minutes of renewal in your sanctuary, today.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

Stella Maris (sea star)

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For those who look, there is guidance in stars.  Travellers on land and sailors on sea scan the skies to find their bearings.  Some look to stars of media, from whom they model their behaviour.  There are stars in cyber space (Instagram, Pinterest, come to mind).  There are stars within family systems, as bright, or brighter, that guide future generations, than those found in astronomy.  Then, there are stars that guide others, who seek them, in astrology.

For some, Our Lady, Star of the Sea, is a prayer.  A symbol of guidance, of hope, of safety, of protection.

So to find a sea star at my feet, alive, at Cable Beach, Broome, was fortuitous.  Yes, I believe there is guidance in stars.

I’ve been focusing on living mindfully.  I’ve been attempting to appreciate the experience of the moment, and I’m finding this to be larger than the sum of all others.  Early one morning while walking mindfully, step by step, it was no curious thing for me to find a sea star at my feet.  It is an interesting creature.  The sea star is not a fish.  It has no brain.  It uses nerve endings that travels the length of the limbs.  It senses.  It survives by using this strategy.  It can regenerate a limb, when one is lost, to be whole again.  How can a creature without a brain, be so powerful? (Wannabe ‘leader of the free world’ excepted!).

Being busy, one loses the capacity to sense.  One dances to the rhythm of demands.  And, when one can hear and one can feel a bum note, one ignores it.  Rhythm takes over.  Because.  One.  Is.  Busy.  Then the bum note reaches a crescendo.  It is unmistakable.  It demands one heeds.  It demands one responds.  It demands one stops, looks and listens.  It is all about savouring the moment.  Living the moment.  Pleasant or unpleasant.

I heard the bum note.  I stopped.  I looked.  I saw.  And, I listened.  My life has been enriched because I did.

Yes, I’ve learned to renew my life through new experiences.  Through my senses.

My wish for you today is that your footsteps be mindful.   And may your path, too, be guided by a star today.

As always,

a dawn bird

Home is where roses bloom

After a whirlwind of trips, walking up to the front door, flanked by dozens of roses is a welcome like no other.

Waking to the sounds of birds in the garden, the beep of the garbage truck, the whistle of the kettle in the kitchen, the churning of clothes in the washing machine, may be mundane to some, but music to my ears.

I am home.

Briefly.

But home … and, where I am rested and happy.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird