To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.


I am not a “dweller in a wood”, but I am a walker in the bush, and to me too every tree has its voice and its feature. Casuarinas speak in the wind, almost like the murmur of human voices. The trunks of eucalypts creak against each other. Wattles choose to converse in heady perfume; bottlebrush in the multitudinous voices of parrots and honeyeaters.


Trunks split to reveal creams, russets, browns and blue, especially under the influence of rain


bulge out in intricate carbuncles

break into diagonal fissures, orange and grey

create patterns of sublime subtlety over their musculature


present designs like subdued Matisse cut outs


and tesselate.


Their roots break pavements and gather sun-mottles.


Their bark peels in rich strips


and they blush as they excoriate.


Brown, they lean over green foliage and water


Tall and silvery-skinned, they reach for the sky in the morning light.


They tell their history, not only in their precisely accurate rings of bark which record the quality of seasons as well as the passing of years, but also in fire scars


and the only-recently-deciphered tracks of moth larvae.



Moth larvae postscript: I mentioned these tracks in a previous post, unscientifically hidden in a haiku. My indefatigable friend, Prue, sent me links to some remarkable research by Dr Max Day, recently turned 100, and a number of other retired scientists. Dr Day's most recent paper was published when he was 97. The articles are well worth reading.




The quote at the beginning of this post is from Thomas Hardy's “Under the greenwood tree”