Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2013

Image

 

drying seeds
from autumn’s harvest –
will our love flower again
if you return
in the spring?

 

From my poetry collection: ‘Aspects of Love’

Read Full Post »

Image

Norfolk Island seems to appear from nowhere, as this tiny speck of a volcanic island—6 by 4 and a bit miles in size—is almost invisible in the great surging blue of the Pacific Ocean. It appears to be a natural prison: nearly harbourless, ringed with steeply rugged cliffs and girded with reefs.

Captain James Cook first discovered the island in 1774. Going ashore he noted that it was uninhabited and blest with abundant soil and water. Large flax plants and towering spruce trees grew everywhere. In his journal Cook wrote, ‘tall, straight and strong pine trees found here are ideal for ships’ masts and yard arms.’ He claimed the tiny island naming it in honour of the Dutchess of Norfolk, and after cutting several of the tallest pines Cook left the island—which he now referred to as Paradise—and sailed on.

Image

The Norfolk Island pine, (Araucaria heterophylla) is a distinctive conifer endemic to Norfolk Island. The near French island possession of New Caledonia also hosts large forests of these majestic trees. They grow to a height of 50 – 60 metres with straight vertical trunks and symmetrical branches. The pines have a huge root system able to withstand the cold salt spray and incessant onshore winds that would contort most other species. These uniquely beautiful pine trees have been carried throughout the South Pacific to serve as street trees and decorative plantings required for large open public spaces. The Norfolk Pine also thrives along ocean fronts and rings many beaches.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, pine trees held naval importance as masts and spars. Only conifers made the best masts because of their natural straightness. Pine resin cut down friction between the fibres in the grain, enabling masts and spars to withstand the relentless pounding of the ocean’s winds. Over time the Norfolk Pine proved to be non-resilient and could not serve as a mast. Its wood was short-grained, thus wanting in resin, and when stressed it would snap neatly into pieces like a raw carrot.

Image

Norfolk Island, with its beautiful murmuring pines, remains one of the most interesting places for tourists to visit. The island is steeped in history, serving first as an old Polynesian settlement, then until 1855 as England’s most brutal prison colony.  The new inhabitants who moved in after the convicts left were the descendants of Fletcher Christian, the remaining mutineers from Captain Bligh’s ship, The Bounty, their Tahitian wives and children.

Today Norfolk Island is both quirky and fascinating. Its Creole language—Norfuk—is derived from 18th century Cockney English seasoned with elements of the Tahitian language. It must be the only place on earth where the nicknames of families fill the phone book. Here one can step back in time to experience a genuine 19th century agrarian lifestyle, while enjoying its great natural beauty and deep sense of stillness. If you ever find yourself in the South Pacific head to Norfolk Island and to a destination that will never disappoint.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Photo/Poetry Reflections

Image

For you –
I wear lovely clothes
with light make-up, scent, and
colour in my hair

Yet the splendid peacock
arrayed in those glorious feathers
ever guides and  guards
his plain brown hen

 From my poetry collection: ‘Aspects of Love’

Read Full Post »

Image

a brochure arrives
from Great Keppel Island
underwater scenery
never experienced before
confirms our vacation

We take our place along the side of a glass bottom boat. Everyone aboard is chatting with excitement as we move out to sea. Our tour guide, a young marine biologist, begins his commentary. ‘Look below, at the great variety of life beneath you. Its rich, vibrant colours and multitude of marine life make this reef one of Australia’s major tourist attractions.’

we exclaim over
bright tropical fish
exotic coral formations and
the sheer abundance of
this underwater kaleidoscope

Image

As we continue to move forward the seabed slowly loses its colour. Everyone grows silent as our guide continues. ‘The first signs of ocean acidity have appeared. You are all aware now that our increased carbon pollution has caused global warming. Because of the run-off of poisons and harmful chemicals from heavy industry, mining and agriculture, the corals are becoming badly affected.’

Stretching below for many kilometres ahead, we see only the bleached skeletal remains of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. One of the seven wonders of the natural world is dying. A shocked and hushed silence continues for the remainder of our trip.

Image

Images: courtesy of the Australian Geographic

Read Full Post »