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Archive for January, 2013

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It’s been growing for nearly a hundred years—this magnificent Eucalyptus mellidora tree, down at the entrance of our property near the post box. For a brief time it bursts into flower, swathed in garlands of tiny white blooms, bristling with brush-like stamens. It may of interest to note that eucalyptus flowers have no petals. Instead they decorate themselves with multitudes of white, cream, yellow, pink or red stamens in different shapes and sizes. Long slender leaves, growing in pairs from opposite sides of the stem, frame the flowers. This creates a stunning effect that cries out to be photographed.

Australia has 2800 species of eucalypts—gum trees as we call them. These hardy trees grow in all areas from sub-alpine to wet coastal forests, all through the temperate woodlands and into the dry inland semi-desert areas. Nearly all eucalypts are evergreens. As with other members of the myrtle family, their leaves are covered with oil glands that exude abundant sap from breaks occurring in their bark or leaves. Eucalyptus flowers also produce a profusion of nectar providing the perfect food source for birds, insects, bats, koala bears and possums.

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Particular gum trees have attracted the attention of environmentalists and global development researchers because of their desirable traits: fast-growing sources of timber for building, firewood and pulpwood, producing medicinal and cleaning products and used as an insecticide. Eucalyptus oil is steam distilled from leaves and can be found as a food additive in sweets, in cough drops and deodorants.

The bark of the Eucalyptus mellidora, is amazingly beautiful. Coarse, rough-hewn sheets of old bark are continually breaking open as they shed themselves in an effort to regenerate the new growth appearing underneath. It’s not uncommon to view a bush landscape clad in its austere, muted grey-green colours, also being covered in shards of hanging bark.

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Eucalypts were first introduced from Australia to the rest of the world by Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist aboard the Captain Cook expedition of 1770. Here in Australia, the distinctive scent of eucalypts prevails everywhere and the sight of these remarkable trees fills us with delight. I take special pleasure in observing our Eucalyptus mellidora, seeing it as a part of this land that never ceases to inspire me.

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Ouch!

the family reunion barbeque
a massed gathering
of mosquitoes

**

one whining mosquito
patrols our quiet bedroom
no sleep tonight

**

broadcasting fortissimo
that darned frog again
‘eat some mosquitoes instead’

**

two more from a favourite Japanese haiku poet
Kobayashi Issa (1763 – 1827)

mosquito at my ear
does it think
I’m deaf?

**

all the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
killing mosquitoes

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Look all about you
as far as the eye can see,
how long has it been
since any rain has fallen
on this vast, drought ridden land?

Baked mounds of earth
cross hatched up and down,
cracks deep and wide
always brown, never green
aching for the smell of rain.

Dust is in the air
swirling gold and red
wherever we step,
blowing, scattering, shifting
with every breath of wind.

Call forth a rain dance
rend the heavens with prayers,
conjure up blackened clouds
and shout aloud to all who see
our pain and despair.
Australia is on its knees again
thirsting for life giving rain.

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ImageMetaphor and beautifully expressive language rests in the heart of poetry, and where better than in nature, can we search for images that reflect our deepest thoughts and desires.

Vanquished

he reads to me
‘your presence is required
at the front line’
slowly the sun disappears
behind grey clouds

one more kiss
then your
last goodbye
under weeping willows
near the open road

tomorrow’s date
an empty square
in my wall calendar
I’ll colour in a heart
to mark it

a letter arrives
‘we regret to inform …
missing in action’
somewhere a bugler
tones The Last Post

fierce winds
strip the leaves
from their branches
shredded and scattered
all are carried away

 

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I’m bent over a bed of red, orange and gold crotons, pruning the dead leaves. There are no flashes of exotic flowers here, as all the colour is showcased by mass plantings of foliage. Variegated leaves of tall cannas and cordylines are offset by beds of soft white flannel flowers. Silver wattle occasionally breaks the spread of striped cream and green leaves. Further down, roses and snapdragons add a softer texture with their vibrant flashes of colour.

a perfect garden
stretches beyond
my front door

yet within me
rest empty heart spaces
I must also tend

loneliness
an old impacted root
I twist and pull at

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after the snow
a chilling silence –
nature’s painful reminder
of our last meeting

 

 

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