SUMMERS END

Summers END

Notes from Stradbroke Island

*

I am standing knee-deep in the Sea. The shallow surf

is breaking & sucking & swirling about my legs,

as I shade my eyes and look back

at the long, low line of the Land

rising like grey-green banks of clouds

beyond the scrubby, khaki foliage

and shaggy, matchstick trunks

of the dense stringy-bark swamp

lining the lazy curve of Flinders Beach.

It is a landscape much unchanged,

from how it looked 200 years ago.

It occurs to me then

that there’s not a lot of places

on the East Coast of Australia

in the year of 2020CE

that you can say that about,

and for that reason alone

this Place should be considered

Sacred and Sacrosanct.

FIVE THINGS I LIKE

ABOUT STRADBROKE ISLAND

THAT IT DOESN’T HAVE:

1. A Bridge

2. A “Vibrant Night Life” or thriving

“Entertainment Precinct” (ugh!)

3. Sand-mining (finally!)

4. Traffic Lights

5. Skyscrapers.

Yes, it’s deadly dull, and difficult & expensive to get to. You people really wouldn’t like it.

The kids would be bored, plugged into their iphone

or forever whining for ice-cream. Why don’t you all go

to somewhere else more fashionable like Bali or Fiji

or some other third-world Paradise

whored out as a First-World Tourist Trap

and trash their island instead?

A BLACK TIDE

The morning after the first good rains,

the rains that ended the Drought,

all the rock pools turned black.

Peering into the water I saw

that the usually pristine, white sand

was banded and blotched by dark deposits

of Charcoal and Ash washed out of the sky

by the rain

& brought in by the Tides

to be left as a layer of carbon

for future Geological Maps.

A token of Australia’s burning

these past summer months,

and a black mark on our Permanent Record.

DISTRACTING THE AUTHOR BRIEFLY;

A slender girl sails blithely by

with a spine arched like the Bow of Artemis,

the Virgin Huntress, drawn and poised.

That spine a weapon tensed & trembling

with the terrible power

stored in those curves, a Potential Energy

ever-ready to unleash an arrow in flight

to pierce some unsuspecting

young man’s heart.

Indeed, there’s a lot of it about.

Disregarding dire warnings from Health Authorities

re; the dangers of not covering up in the Sun,

Schools of young girls clad in micro-bikini’s

and chattering like parrots

swarm past my cabin at regular intervals,

displaying pert brown buttocks & breasts

like Apples ripening in the Sun.

Out to sea, flashes of Peaches and Apricots

and Plums presented on a platter,

as the Surfer Girls in G-strings,

bronzed bellies to board,

bob up and down on the billowing swell.

The boys, meanwhile, for the most part,

keep the fruit of their loins

decently veiled in baggy board shorts,

rather reminiscent of the way Farmers

will cover a bunch of bananas

with a hessian sack

to keep the Fruit Bats at bay.

WILDLIFE

Finally, after living in this country for sixty years,

I actually get to see a Koala in the wild!

(That statement is a sad reflection

on the reduced numbers of this iconic species.)

Technically, I guess, he wasn’t so much “in the Wild

as “in the camping ground” but he was a Free Agent,

nonetheless, and it was a big moment for me

when he strolled past my cabin

and clambered up a convenient gum-tree,

as I sat on the steps drinking gin & tonic

in the soft and gentle twilight.

I had another “First” a few hours later at Midnight,

still sitting on the same steps sipping Gin & Tonics,

when what I first assumed was a Fruit Bat, zoomed past my face and landed with a WHAP! on the trunk of a large gum a few feet away. Wait a minute, I thought, bats don’t have long tails! As it started scrambling upwards I realised excitedly that it was a flying possum or Sugar Glider,

another species I’d never seen before.

Actually the healthy numbers of Wild-life I spotted this year on my annual pilgrimage to sacred Minjerribah

proved to be thankfully therapeutic for my weary Soul,

after the distressing & depressing preceding weeks

watching my country burn and knowing in my heart how many hundreds of thousands of our unique native species perished in the flames.

But on Stradbroke Island this Summer, Life flourished.

The Noisy Friars grackle-cackled unseen in the trees above, the Wallabies lazed on the green grass,

the Goannas lumbered through the undergrowth swaggering like hung-over gunslingers,

standing in the shallows, a sparkling cloud

of tiny, silver fish erupted out of the water

in rainbows all around me, brief

ephemeral tinsel shower in the air.

The Curlew Chorus standing

stilt-legged, knock-kneed in the grass,

shrieking their mad Midnight Madrigals.

After the rain, the Frogs in the swamp deliver a slooow, considered, creaking Cantata

in full stereophonic Sensaround;

“CREEEAAAAKKKK! CRREEEAAAKKKK!

The next morning, beneath fresh washed skies

that lift the Heart, there is a mad outpouring

of blossoming in the Eucalypts,

radiant, creamy outbursts of sugar and pollen

that sets swarms of “Corroroboree Beetles”,

caparisoned in black enamel armour etched

with fluorescent green geometric designs,

hovering and humming like helicopters.

Settling down for a clumsy landing, they

immediately set to work, industriously burrowing

amongst the profusion of pistils & stigma & stamens

harvesting the pollen with quick, precise movements.

Stradbroke had it’s own fierce fires some years ago,

the burnt, black trunks standing stark against the sand,

but the Island has healed itself remarkably

and few signs now remain of that terrible Summer.

The thriving Wildlife I saw this Summer on sacred Minjerribah Island has given me some much needed Hope. Minjerribah reminds us that Life is Strong,

Life is Resiliant

that Life can repair & replenish itself once more,

even now on the edge of the Precipice,

if we will only give it a chance.

***

***

The Reverend Hellfire…

in his heart he’s still on holiday.

(You really wouldn’t like it here!)

***

~ by reverendhellfire on February 23, 2020.

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