It’s early morning in the bush. My first job is to head down the hill below the house and photograph lichen rampaging over fallen casuarina branches. I take a low folding chair because everything is damp from evening mist. Below me in the gulley I can hear a lyre bird calling and every time I grab a tree for balance I’m showered with droplets. As the sun crests the roof of the house I begin photographing. I move around keeping close watch on my feet: mobility is very precious to me.
After my five minutes I crab my way along the slope to a small pile of firewood and heft an armful to the stairs cut out of the hillside and then onto the deck. When I download the photos I’m disappointed. The lichen luxuriance has posed the perennial problem (for me) of depth of field and the clumps are sharpshot in the foreground and a background blur.
This gallery turns into a slide show if you click on one image. It’s my contribution to DesleyJane’s RegularRandom, where this week she gets up close and personal with pens.
This post is for Jude. Happy birthday!
This week I went beach exploring with an old friend from my early days on the south coast. She was unfamiliar with the coastline north of here, so we headed out to Bingie Bingie Point where we were blown off our feet by a very brisk wind. We retreated to the sheltered Dreamtime Track behind Kelly’s Beach (also known as Bingie Beach North or Meringo Beach) heading for Grey Rocks. We could hear the roar of the sea on one side, and water glimmered through the trees on the other. When we reached Kelly’s Lake, the walking track signpost was up to its knees in tea-coloured water. We negotiated the steep cut-away sand drop, me barefooted for the first time this spring.
The beach was firm and the sun strong. Inviting rocks stood in the gleam of departed waves. Some were clothed in weed, delicate pink fan shapes white-dotted on the end of the fronds. In one of the deep fissures I spotted movement which resolved itself into a large crab, orange, purple, green and fierce-pincered. A shell, covered in garish green moss, drew attention to itself in a pool on top of a rock. In another rock pool were the delicate circles, almost submerged, of sand anemones. The sea had been busy creating its subtle sand patterns tracing its receding flow after full moon tides.
We rambled amongst the tumble of rocks: a tilted flat one like an ancient altar; a smooth vaguely phallus-shaped one; large rounded rectangular ones – tilted, separated by dark crevices and covered with orange lichen; smaller gibbous orbs; rocks with the waxy smoothness and mottled look of marble patched with obsidian-black; a thick band quartz-like band of pink, grey and browny-orange running through speckled grey rock. One day, I’ll know the all their names.
We left the beach pleasantly sun-warmed and rock-tired and reached the car in spitting rain.
Some more growing things from my neck of the woods, mostly tiny but not trifling. You’ll have seen a few before, so this is revision! I’ve also begun to pay a bit of attention to habit, so there are some photos that show what previously encountered flowers are attached to. Some of the photos (the male flower-spikes of the casuarina, the devils of the hakea, the berries of the boobialla) are different manifestations of plants I’ve already introduced you to.
The triumph of this collection, though, are the flowers of the mangrove. J spotted them between the road and the inlet, as we were returning home from time travel to the late Cambrian at Shelly Beach.
This post is for Tish Farrell who visited English orchids near the windmill at Much Wenlock and shared them with me
Each year we make a spring pilgrimage to Nerrigundah Ridge when the rock orchids are flowering. Armed with a stick and sturdy boots, we walk up a rocky ridge through spurts of flowering grass, past bright yellow guinea flowers, stepping on conglomerated and broken rocks, many covered with lichen and moss: doubly cautious because the rocks are loose and it’s the beginning of snake season. We find a clump of rocks with healthy-looking orchid leaves but no flowers. But the Ridge doesn’t disappoint us. There they are, three sprays of creamy-white orchids with their maroon striped and freckled throats, “white girls flowering out of stone / and leaning on the green air” as Douglas Stewart describes them.
Finally I have the study clear, and it's beginning to seem like a pleasant place to be, sun and light pouring in, and the faint sound of the sea. The living room? Now, that's a different story! Chaos is its title. So I escape into the morning to walk along my beach for the first time since the beginning of the year, and indulge in the soothing pastime of shell-collecting. I can't resist feather, lichen, rocky sand shelf, sand ripple and reflections in the creek either.
PS For a great whale shot click here.
The old dead tree near the ruined house en route to my iPad internet connection is covered in lichen. In the winds and snow of the last few weeks, twigs have been blown off and the ground is littered with the patterns of pistachio green lichen with deep brown innards, quite beautiful. In the afternoon sun, warm as long as the wind was still, I knelt down in the tussocky grass and paid photographic homage.