Oeuvre 2/2

To continue with Nature’s oeuvre at this time of the year …

There is no other way to describe finding wild orchids in the bush, except pure delight.  They are delicate and grow in harsh conditions.



DSCN9693.jpgThe donkey orchid is prolific.  This was was crusted with frost.DSCN9698.jpgThe shy cowslips that bloom in shady places.DSCN9723.jpgTo find a clump of them is special.DSCN9786.jpgThe clubbed spider orchid looks like a marionette.DSCN9817.jpgThe hooded jug orchids are beautiful in their own special way.DSCN9800.jpgThe tiny, tiny pink fairy orchid is in a class of its own.

Australia may have the big iconic landmarks of the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House.  I’m here to tell you there’s more to see…

If you ever visit Western Australia, be sure you come in our spring.  If you love flowers, there is no where else on earth quite like it.

I’m off now to share more of Nature’s oeuvre … I’ll be home soon.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



Nature’s oeuvre 1/2

Focused on getting to my destination in failing light and blinding rain I failed to see the world around me.  How often do we do this?  I know I did this more than I should have in the past two days.  Had I not reminded myself to live more mindfully, I would have missed a lot more.

It is officially spring in the Southern Hemisphere, in two days.  There’s so much to look forward to especially after I discovered the joys of wildflowers.  How did I live in ‘The Wildflower State’ for decades and not notice the beauty that recurs each year, unfailingly?

The ebb and flow of Nature’s oeuvre, is to be enjoyed moment to moment and not season to season.  I have learnt to put brakes on, slow down and live in the here and now.  Foxes Lair has taught me, flowers bloom, when it is their time.  DSCN9641.jpgFifty kilometers from town, I noticed the sun was setting to my left and a huge moon rose from behind a grove of trees on my right.  Startled by the silent luminosity, I had to stop to take a picture.  The presence of it in the sky calmed my spirit.  There was benevolence in the light.  The only motorist on the road, I slowed down, no longer alone in poor weather.DSCN9855.jpgNext morning I walked around the reserve.  I’m usually alone here so I claim this as mine each time I visit!  Winter has left it lush with bright yellow daubes of acacia everywhere.DSCN9680.jpgA closer look at the spikes of flowers is worth the moment of quiet.DSCN9763.jpgI stood in a ‘forest’ of banksia.  These ones are quite different to anything I’ve seen elsewhere.DSCN9764.jpgThey are a beautiful tumeric colour with the tip, dipped in white.  A ‘ta da’ moment comes to mind!DSCN9813.jpgI’ve learned to look at my footsteps.  No longer afraid of snakes (although I’m still snake aware), I’ve learnt to read the footprints of others.  Parrots!  So I look up.DSCN9895This must have been a young one trying his best to make ‘parrot calls’, and not quite getting there.  Yet!DSCN9653.jpgThe clumps of hibbertia are everywhere.  They are bright in debris that gathers at the base of the gum trees.DSCN9881.jpgI love this hakea that grows like giant kebabs with flowers blooming intermittently between spiky, sharp leaves.

I’m time poor today and will try and complete this before I head out again.

Until then

As always

a dawn bird


Lessons from a sundew

I’ve driven through shocking weather in the past two days.  To add to my dismay while I was away I missed seeing the massive meteorite that lit up suburbs in Perth.  (The hunt is on to see where it landed).

On my return home I looked through my photographs.  To be honest, I can’t complain.  Mother Nature had been fair.  (I’m sure some of you will agree!).


It was cold in Narrogin.  I set my alarm for half an hour before day break to turn the heater on.  I waited for warmth before getting rugged up, a splash of cold water on my face and I was gone.  I waited in Foxes Lair for first light.  It had rained steadily all night but I managed to get about an hour of sunlight before work.

I found myself entranced by the sundew that grows wild in these parts.  Here are some of the lessons I learned that morning.

DSCN9872.jpgSometimes when fragile, we all need something strong and steady to lean on.DSCN9891.jpgEven flowers unfurl in the faintest sunlight, so be generous with yours.DSCN9901.jpgWe all bloom at different times.DSCN9908.jpgSimplicity is best.

I’ve taken hundreds of photographs that I’ll keep sharing with you.  But …

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The dancer


The words voluminous, ethereal, clouds remind me of her.  She was my father’s youngest sister, her memory, forever synonymous with ballroom dancing.  My earliest memories are of a black and white photograph with her seated on the floor leaning on a chair, a cloud of dress around her, her profile framed in the hairstyle of the late 1940s.  Rita Hayworth comes to mind.

My father always danced across the room in ballroom strides with an invisible partner, when he talked about her.  How light she was in step.  How beautifully she moved.  Grace on air, he would say.  He admired her dancing with unabashed pride.  She and her husband were the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of their day.  They toured dancing tournaments in Asia and won numerous prizes.  I believe they also owned a dancing studio.

I met her only a few times in my lifetime.  She was petite, birdlike.  A champion ballroom dancer.  I know little else about her.

What I do know from my father is that she was a living cloud, who floated across our family horizon with brio.

I did not inherit her agility, her grace, or her posture, so I keep my two left feet firmly on the floor, and let my fingers tap to the music of her memory.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The godfather

Before I logged off for the night, I scrolled through my recent photographs, partly because it is raining hard in short bursts and I wanted some memories of warmth.

The photographs I looked at have a special place in my heart.  The landscape is as close as the landscape of childhood.

This is Cockatoo Creek.  It lies below the highway between Broome and Derby.  Bridges in this region often allow one way traffic only.  Cars have to stop to let oncoming vehicles pass.  This is especially daunting when halfway across the bridge, one sees a road train approach!

The Kimberley region had record rainfall last monsoon, so there was plenty of water and billabongs to see.  I have never seen this creek so flooded as I did this trip.  It was brimming with bird life and wildlife, too.

DSCN8892.jpgThis is cattle country in the Kimberley region.  Huge landscape, bigger cattle stations and dangerous roads where cattle roam freely.  At 110 km/hour speed limit, they are a hazard for the novice driver.DSCN9458.jpgA friendly “take care” from the car hire people is usually a good natured warning, “watch out for cattle”.DSCN9462.jpgI particularly love the Brahman cattle.  This picture speaks of home to me.DSCN9466.jpgJuxtaposed with the bird life of the Kimberley, cormorants, glossy ibis and the gorgeous brolga, there’s a certain incongruity here.  I always feel like I’m straddling two cultures.  Ask me which one I love more and I’d never be able to give you an answer.DSCN8894The brolga is one of my favourite birds.  They are large and elegant in movement and flight.  To see them dance is unforgettable.  Oh! the elegance of each stride!DSCN8906.jpgThis time there was even a freshie (freshwater crocodile) or two.  The excitement this caused!  We nearly stepped backwards on to the highway, much to the annoyance of passing traffic who tooted at us impatiently.

Where does my love for all this come from?  It had to be from my godfather, my mother’s older brother.  He was one of five sons.  I’ve written about my mother’s family previously so I won’t repeat the family history again but I will share more about my godfather.  He was our hero in more ways than one.

My godfather never worked in a paid job as far as I’m aware!  He managed to live life on his terms supported by a legacy.  The only job he had in his youth was being called by the government to shoot and kill marauding tigers and panthers that terrorised villagers.  At Christmas my mother’s extended family would meet in the sprawling ancestral home.  At night we, the multitude of cousins, would sleep dormitory style in the great lounge room that we called The Hall.  He would turn off the lights and start telling us stories of his youth.  The murmur of aunts and uncles in the adjacent room added to the tension of trying to hear him.  He would start by speaking softly, as he stalked that tiger or panther until he had it in his sights.  We would wait to hear the sound effects of his loaded gun as he took aim. He would shush us, oh so softly.  We dared not breathe.  Then BANG!  We screamed in unison and sheer terror.  We drowned out the protests and reprimands of the other adults, while he laughed heartily with us as we pleaded, “tell us another story, pleeeeze!”

My godfather married very late in life.  In his 60s I think.  When younger he had a mad crush on a nun.  I can’t remember her name but can see her face so clearly.  She was Anglo Indian.  Her modest habit covered her blond hair but heightened the blue of her eyes.  She ran a local clinic.  My godfather, of course, found himself suffering from every ailment known and unknown to mankind!  But, she was committed to her vocation.  He never had a prayer.

Family memories are precious.  Like all good things, they are meant to be shared.  So I thought I’d share my yarn with you.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




A tender memory


I woke this morning feeling dehydrated and before my coffee, reached for the carton of coconut water.  It flooded me with memories.

It is impossible for me to see a beach or palm and not think of my childhood holidays in Bombay (now Mumbai).  Every summer we would look forward to the 19 hour train trip from the heart of India to the coast.  My parents had siblings living there.  We looked forward to being with aunts and uncles and cousins.  I had one favourite aunt who remains vivid in memory.  Still vibrant, she died young in her early 60s.

She was my mother’s younger sister.  The two were very close in a sibship of ten.  My mother often regaled us with her memories of childhood with great affection.  It was always my aunt leading the charge.  Like the time, as a pre-teen, she rolled up straw in a newspaper and attempted to smoke the giant cigarette she made.  Coughing and spluttering, she insisted my mother do the same.  She was the life of any party, the first to sing and dance without inhibition.  She was an athlete, an Olympian.  Her hair was thick and glossy, dark as a raven’s wing in flight.  She brushed it off her face with impatience in one hand and, in the days before it was acceptable in that society for a woman to smoke, a cigarette in the other.  She looked at propriety in the face, threw her head back and laughed at it.  I was mesmerised by her presence.  The world is a quieter place, by her absence.

I remember so much about her but it is the smaller details I remember more vividly.  She was a walking contradiction.  An elegant tomboy is the best description I can come up with.  Her home was styled so beautifully.  I think I developed a love for sculptures from her.  Her sense of fashion was amazing.  She wore bright colours with dare.  Silk saris in turquoise, hot pinks, emerald greens, draped effortlessly.  Despite being a mother of four, she was slender as a reed.

She lived on the first floor of a large, period house right on the beach.  In the monsoon season, the high tide reached the back door, bringing with it coconuts that fell from the palms in the backyard.

This morning I recalled the memory of tucking into the soft, sweet and gelatinous flesh of tender coconuts, still green on the outside.  There is nothing similar to describe it in taste and texture.  One experiences it.

Although she passed away many years ago, her loss is so intense, we rarely speak of it.  When we do, we smile through tears because she is forever young.  Forever irreverent.  Forever fun.  Forever loved.  Forever missed.

Now that’s one memorable legacy to leave behind.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




Here comes spring … maybe

I’ve just returned from Moora, a small Wheatbelt town about 200 kms from home.

The Wheatbelt area is renowned for wildflowers.  They have started to bloom.  There’s a small bush reserve just outside Moora, Candy Bush Reserve, that I’ve always wanted to visit.  I’ve never been brave enough to walk through on my own as it is on the outskirts of town and isolated.  But today I did.  I saw a group of people walking through and I saw my chance.  I parked my car and changed into my bush walking shoes and trailed behind them.

In spring there are carpets of paper everlastings in this area.  People come from far and wide to see this.DSCN9602.jpgBut I love to find the solitary one, like this one, pale ice cream pink.DSCN9612Some so tiny, they make sand and pebbles seem large.DSCN9603.jpgI love the incongruity of delicate flowers growing among thicket.DSCN9613.jpgWhile huge sprawling bushes have prongs of flowers that reach out.DSCN9616.jpgI’m not sure what these were, but they were striking among the greenery.


DSCN9617.jpgThere were swatches of these yellow flowers but it’s easy to see why these two caught my eye.DSCN9623.jpgI stopped my car on the way home for one last picture of the fields of fluro yellow canola that splashed colour, as far as the eye could see.

I’ve been home for a couple of hours.  All these images seem so far away.  They were taken today!

It’s night as I write this.  Thunder is rumbling above me.  The rain is thumping as it hits the roof of the shed.

So you can see why I’m reticent to say, here comes spring.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird