foraging and slow

Saturday 17 March 2018

This morning, I went for my regular walk around the neighbourhood. I often take nature photos as I walk, but things are decidedly dowdy at the moment. It's too early for the autumn blaze here in Canberra. Summer still clings. We've had .002mm of rain (almost literally) since January 1, and only the trees with whopper roots and natives that thrive on three drips of water are eking out an existence.

Mostly, things are shrivelling up and dying, and this isn't really the ultimate state in which to find treasure.

Unless you really look.

One thing I've promised myself this year, is to stop and look. Observe and really see. I'm always in much of a rush, and I'm pretty jack of it. I want to slow down and do slow things. Walk slowly, eat slowly, breathe slowly, move my eyes slowly. Pause. Scour. Take in. Pluck.

Most of the treasures in these photos were simply plucked from a tangle of leaves and sticks on the ground, some snapped from a dying bush. Some were pinched from a tree with more than enough to spare. Many are dying, some already dead. Some with fruit and flowers crisped and stubborn on tiny stems.

All beautiful.

Placing these finds on a board to photograph them may seem mundane to some, but it was one of the most happy-making things I've done in a long time. As I arranged each piece, microscopic spiders and other bugs scurried out and scuttled from piece to piece.

I was really struck by the autumnal gum leaves, below. I've never seen them this amber. How beautiful are they? And that bark--also from a gum--the red of Uluru. And that pine cone, cracked and benevolent and so perfectly imperfect.

I'm a bit botanica-obsessed right now, and I plan to draw these, especially the flowers, before they wobble and completely succumb.

Many of these grassy stems (below) are weeds. My favourite is the lacy stemmed grass in the centre. It resembles a tulip tree and yet it's a common grassy weed so easily passed by without a second glance. If only it wasn't so common, it would be celebrated on royal crests and national flags.

This has got me thinking about the word 'common'. It has such negative connotations, yet really, it's only a lack of perceived value that causes commonality. Just because something is in abundance doesn't mean it's not beautiful. Doesn't mean it's not important, vital, valuable.

Here is one of the little spiders who popped out of the bark.

I think I love him.

And now he's gone.

Go for a walk. See what treasures you can find, then photograph them and tag me (Instagram Facebook Twitter). I'd love to see what you come up with. Maybe a terrazzo of rocks and pebbles. A forest of sticks and twigs. A flutter of feathers or a branch full of mismatched leaves from some extraordinary, invented tree.

Here's to slow.


1 comment:

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Tania, I loved this post on being observant, of taking the world in as one takes those meandering track walks in many Canberra suburbs. Savouring it in sensory ways ... really seeing colour, shape, texture and small hidden gems; smelling that special scent I always notice in your city, the eucalyptus. Listening to birdsong, a distant lawn mower, breeze in the casuarinas and crunch of dry leaves underfoot. And the colour ... greys and greens, pale shale, autumnal collage, and the huge, intense, crisp blue-sky days.

Visiting Canberra in autumn is sublime. See you soon! :)

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