Posts Tagged ‘Nature writing’

In the tree tops 2

When we were children, we may have had a special tree.  My own tree was located in our Southside Park, a block away from our home. Many times I climbed to its second fork, there to dream and gaze at the sky through its lace-like canopy of leaves. This tree became my refuge, and in its branches I experienced my first connection to nature and to all of life.

Great bark shot

Our park was planted with an abundance of old, established trees. These became our playground where we freely skylarked in this perfect place for hide and seek—ducking in, out, and around their broad trunks. I loved to study the shapes and textures of tree bark, letting my fingers travel over imagined roadways and discovering pictures of funny faces hiding in the rough surface. I was always happy when I spent time among the trees, and when something made me sad I cried into their trunks.

Queen's Park 1

Over the years I have studied and photographed trees, watched them grow, be felled, chipped and burned. We plant saplings to create green corridors, and embed new trees to mark the memory of someone we loved. Trees shelter us from sun and storm, their timber is used in a hundred different ways, and their beauty and strength always inspires. Trees will always remain and everything must be done to protect them and ensure their healthy living. After all – we depend on the trees breathing in sunlight and breathing out life giving oxygen to sustain our very own lives.



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Japanese Lake

Whew—it has been so hot for so long now. Some time ago we promised ourselves a visit to Toowoomba, our garden city, where we could cool down in its high altitude setting. Here we discovered a gorgeous Japanese themed garden, a treasure that became the perfect place in which to relax in comfort.

A formal ‘sister city’ agreement between Toowoomba and the Japanese city of Tokatsuki was officially established on the 13th November, 1991. A signed Declaration of Friendship agreed to deepen this relationship through mutually beneficial exchanges in educational, sporting, cultural, and commercial areas.

Japanese Pagoda

As Toowoomba is also the central campus for the University of Southern Queensland, its Japanese walled garden has paid a magnificent tribute to its sister city. The garden’s 3 hectare site includes elements of a mountain stream and waterfall, a dry stone garden, a central lake, azalea covered hills, and 3 kilometres of paved pathways. Many species of Japanese and Australian native trees and plants combine in seamless and restful harmony. Its name, Ju Raku En, means, ‘to enjoy peace and longevity in a public place.’

Japanese Bridge 1

Several small pagodas and wooden bench seating add spaces for rest and contemplation. Splashes of colour will also greet you in this stunning haven. While other Japanese gardens have appeared Australia wide, Ju Raku En is the largest and most developed.

In closing, I was attracted to a red Japanese gate I couldn’t resist photographing. I discovered it some time ago in the Cable Beach Resort Garden at Broome, in the Australian Kimberly Region. Its distinctive architectural form and blaze of colour cried out to me, ‘I am proudly Japanese.’ As it seemed to belong here I have included it.

Red Gate


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Misty sunrise 1

a rising sun
bathes the summer landscape
in soft mist

the community barbeque
a mass gathering
of mosquitoes

one whining mosquito
patrols our quiet bedroom –
no sleep tonight

Bush Fire, 1

sudden lightning strike
tinder dry bushland

summer solstice
a new tube of sun screen
and wide brimmed hat

in burning sun
mid day becomes

summer moon
captive in a cage
of branches



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When I introduced my blog in 2011, I hoped to publish 50 posts before I ran out of ideas. What has carried me far past that goal is the development of a sketch book: crammed today with new ideas, topics, websites, scraps of poetry, and nature photos galore. It has helped me reach post 200 which features the art of photo/poetry.

The Japanese art form of Haiga, is one in which a short poem is accompanied by an image. The art lies in the relationship between the two. The image is not an illustration of the poem, nor is the poem a caption for the image. Each should stand alone, yet in juxtaposition the two must resonate to create a deeper and more complex meaning.

Traditionally haiga included two parts: an ink brush image (sumi-e), and a haiku, hand-lettered on the same paper. Today the development of digital imagery and the internet have allowed haiga to expand into new realms. Drawings or paintings are now scanned and presented with little or no adjustment, or they are manipulated in Photoshop and other software until the original is nearly unrecognizable. Photographs are often used as a starting point, or a purely digital image is created from scratch. The poem can be hand-lettered, scanned and pasted on the image, or applied directly over the image using the software’s font capability.

Below is a gallery of  my new and old selected haiga images. You may even decide to play with photo/poetry yourself, and I’d enjoy receiving samples of your work. Send your images to:  km3highnote@bigpond.com 

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The hills are alive with the sight of blossoms. Our early summer presented us with an abundance of flowering trees, dressed in clusters of gorgeous colour. Is this the result of all those recent summer storms that gave everything a good drenching? I suspect it is.

First to blossom are the Jacarandas, Jacaranda mimosifolia. These stately trees produce exquisite clusters of lavender blooms. Each individual bell shaped floret combines into groups of similar flowers that smother the branches. Delicate fern-like green leaves surround the blossoms. Not only do these stately trees create a superb display when they are mass planted, but Jacarandas also look stunning on their own.

We mistakenly think that Jacarandas are natives, as they adapt and grow profusely in all tropical and warm temperate zones. Originally found only in Brazil, these trees are deciduous. They briefly drop their leaves at the end of the dry winter season, then bloom and leaf up again when the warm spring rains return.

As the Jacaranda flowers fade and fall the Tabebuia trees burst into bloom. They decorate themselves in clusters of frilly, bell shaped flowerets—similar to the Jacaranda blossoms. Their colour and profusion creates a jaw-dropping spectacle, through the rich pink of the Tabebuia rosea, to the vibrant yellow gold of the Tabebuia aurea. These beauties are a genus of flowering plants in the family, Bignoniacae.

Tabebuia trees are native to tropical Central and South America and they flourish from Mexico and Cuba to Argentina. In summer their flowers burst into dazzing pink or yellow, with small green leaves following the blooms later. Everyone loves them.

Now that a new year is upon us, all these trees have left their glorious colour behind. When they do bloom again we must savour their beauty, as each flowering season is so brief. Jacarandas and Tabebuias are marvellously photogenic, and once their blossom time is over, it is a long wait for the next breathtaking display.


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Tired? Stressed? Too much work, shopping, and time spent tethered to a screen? Perhaps a break is needed in which to do some quiet forest bathing.

Forest bathing first originated in Japan where it is known as shinrin-yoku. There are no fluffy towels, soy candles, or scented soaps involved because shinrin-yoku is a slow and tranquil walk through a pristine wilderness. It can become an uplifting experience – one with many well documented health benefits.

Alone or in a small group, select a forest with shrubs, ferns and a good density of old established trees. Stand among them for several moments, breathing slowly to release your mental chatter. When you feel a sense of inner quiet, place your attention on the natural world and begin a deliberately slow walk.

Try to engage all your senses by touching the textures of plants and tree trunks, listening to the quiet murmur of the forest environment and the occasional ring of birdsong. Focus your eyes on the surrounding scenery as you inhale and taste the aromas of the foliage. Essential oils are emitted from plants and trees to protect them from insects and predators, and this phenomenon has been described as, ‘natural aromatherapy.’ Through the stillness and your sense of immersion in nature, an experience of inner peace will grow within you.

The Japanese have a word, karoshi, which means death by overwork. There is so much stress among ordinary Japanese people, they were the first to recognize this problem and develop a way to deal with it. Studies have been conducted in Japan by Dr Quing Li, an Associate Professor at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School. His scientific data has proven that forest bathing can lead to a boost in one’s immune function and mood. A forest walk has also been hailed as a legitimate therapy for preventing hyper tension, depression and stress.

Here in Australia another initiative that aims to connect people with nature is found in the organization, Healthy Parks – Healthy People. Check out its website, one that is both interesting and information rich, at www.hphpcentral.com

To gain maximum benefit from a forest walk, rest when you feel tired and drink water if you are thirsty. Take plenty of time to sit and engage with the scenery, or read a book. Forest bathing is freely available for everyone to enjoy. Shinrin-Yoku’s central idea is to allow nature the quiet time and space in which to work its magic on you.


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Surprises can arrive out of the blue at any time. Several days ago a letter arrived in my inbox with a message that my blog has been awarded a place in the top 100 Nature Writing blogs on the web. I was amazed and delighted, particularly as I share this list with National Geographic, BBC Earth, the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy. What an honour!

I began writing my blog in 2012 by publishing a weekly post. I selected this particular theme as I wanted to explore descriptive prose writing in the essay form, while combining it with my photography. To date I have published 193 posts and will continue to contribute monthly. This blog has become my joy and a labour of love.


Back Roads and Byways

A wide strip of winding road disappears into the hinterland behind us. Like some primordial serpent, it glides over hills and slips down embankments, all the while grasping every contour of the land in its close embrace.

Nearby a towering tallowwood captures our attention. Its strong trunk, covered in rough shards of orange and brown coloured bark, gives way to multitudes of smaller branches. These continue their climb toward the light, diminishing in size until each bough ends in a branchlet, then in a twig.

The roadways also mirror this pattern. Side roads branch away from the centre, morphing from bitumen into gravel and onward into sand. Many of these roadways end in a narrow dirt track overgrown with grasses and scrub.

The hinterland: all those places back, beyond, and further out, calls to the traveller.
“Come follow me as we explore the back roads and byways. My scenery—remote, beautiful, and untouched—will heal and inspire you. In these wondrous places you will learn to appreciate my stillness, nature’s intense colours, and the open sky ringing with birdsong. Enjoy your discovery of secret highlights and beauty spots along these ways.  You will be forever enriched by them.”

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
I took the one less travelled by.”

Robert Frost


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