Home » FLAIR – A Didactic Day

FLAIR – A Didactic Day

The Lake News    February 24, 2024    5 min read   

To the dying strains of Auld Lang Syne and the explosive sounds of fireworks, it was goodbye to the old and welcome to the New Year. Everyone on the verandah expressed their hopes for an improved year. I just needed the comfort of my bed before the break of dawn.

After many days of rain the weather cleared, family left, and it was a beautiful  day enveloped in sunshine, perfect as only found in Brisbane, Queensland. Enjoying my breakfast with the proverbial cup of Twinings on the backyard patio, armed with pen and notebook, it was time to take stock and “refurbish” my life. Stepping across the threshold of another year, what are my goals and how was I to plan for success? I have learnt that life is a journey into which nothing seems to be too permanent. 

Friends and loved ones move through our lives leaving a sense of sadness when we part but to counteract that it is important to remain busy and occupied with special interests for self-survival.  

I have decided to make a new garden. As the saying goes “He/she who makes a garden is to believe in tomorrow”.

In the bottom right hand corner of my back garden grows my Birdsnest fern that I planted 25 years ago. It forms the foundation and focal point of the garden and it’s symbolic of stability. 

Ferns have had a long association with this earth. During the Mesozoic  Era, 225 million years ago, fern families were well established. Fossil records of this time show their existence. Today ferns have become smaller and more complex but their method of reproduction has not changed. Water and wind still carry the spores many kilometres from the parent plant. 

It was King George lll’s mother who started a small personal royal garden that later fell under the patronage of Joseph Banks. He persuaded ship commanders to bring back plants to England. In 1808 the first ferns to arrive in England from Australia were sent by George Caley, a horse-doctor pressured by Joseph Banks then in New South Wales to collect plants. The first ferns sent were Staghorns (Platycerium).

My Birdsnest fern fronds are nearly two metres in length and close to their maximum length. I regard the fronds as the roadways of my life. These indicate the places I have been and where I would like to have gone.  The central nest that catches the leaf litter that provides nourishment to the plant is like my returning home to settle and be motivated by all that is familiar. 

Planted simultaneously with my Birdsnest is my Staghorn fern (Platycerium).  Unfortunately its beauty and structure today, appears very different to the original specimen because of a raging storm that ripped through my suburb many years ago. It has been the only time since that the suburb was peppered with large hailstones. 

A dear friend helped me to try and put together sections of the crown that was damaged. Over the years some healing took place but the fronds remained scarred. The Staghorn too is so reminiscent of my own life but what to do about the scars? It required years of patience for the Staghorn to show improvement and has now produced a new set of fronds. It is a lesson I have learnt from my garden – patience, and never to give up!

I was shaken out of my reverie by the droning of lawn mowers, screaming of chainsaws and the grinding up of trees where they fell during that storm. The high pitch of whippersnappers heralded that the great clean up was in full swing. By midday all the deafening sounds had abated and the inhabitants of my street, mission accomplished, were off to lunch.

I then moved to my front garden where there is little solitude to be found, but only birdsong fills the air. My avian friends visit daily and perform virtuoso solos  on the enormous rock that serves as my mailbox. The special triumvirate of magpies actually warble at my front door waiting as my bodyguards to escort me to ensure I will serve them their snack of raw oats.  

I feel like skipping down the street with them, if only I could.  Looking up at the flowering Eucalypt and Euboa, I retreat to the garden bench below my bedroom window to observe other visitors.  Three crows had just used the birdbath and two of them were preening each other’s heads.  They reminded me of a happy matrimonial couple and my thoughts drifted  to my own 30 years of happiness.  I do miss my true soul mate and remember the many remarks of how well we were suited and complemented each other, but that life was yesterday and today the world keeps turning.  

The crows retreat from the Frangipani tree and I await the arrival of the jazz band with the chorus line of backup singers – the rainbow lorikeets. Their flamboyant plumage and their squawky songs make me realise how fortunate I am being surrounded by the beauty of nature. 

The antics of these birds are like watching aerial gymnasts as they chirp and swing, often upside down scuttling from branch to branch feeding on the nectar of the Eucalypt and the Euboa. I even giggle at them and my entire melancholy mood flies off with them.

It was a didactic day where nature put me on notice to appreciate it and get on with life. Where’s my notebook and pen? Planning has to start now!

The Lake News

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