Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Under the gums

Suddenly the sun was shining, the wind had dropped and the sky was clear. I knew this was the perfect day for my pilgrimage to Western Springs Road. Would the trees still be there after all these years?
I've been writing about the gum trees in a talk on 'The Sacred in Nature' that I'm preparing for a conference. Saving those trees was my first piece of environmental activism. I would often walk to sit under them during breaks from writing my thesis on Thomas Hardy, and listen to the sound of the wind in the leaves. Hardy taught me to listen carefully to the sounds of nature, and as I learned to listen to the gums, I grew to love them.
But the council wanted to fell the lot in order to revegetate the hillside with natives. I wrote letters, and got friends to do the same. When the council found out that people cared, the plan was changed to include the gums along with the new planting.
And there they still are, mature now, stretching high into the clouds. Their limbs are naked, silky and sinewy. I ate my lunch with my back against one of the tallest, and listened to their rustling leaves, just as I used to in my twenties.
The natives now form a bushy cover over the hillside, and the gums along the roadside rise high out of that foliage. They co-exist beautifully, as I knew they would.


Marilyn & Jeff said...

I love the silkiness of gums and the feel of their strength when I place my hands on them. Your photos are wonderful as they show both their
silkiness and strength.

Unknown said...

How wonderful to visit the trees you saved after all this time. There are big gum trees around the lake where I walk and I often stand in awe at their towering beauty. Their bark is white, smooth and wonderful.
I love your book A CUP OF SUNLIGHT.. I've had it in my library for some time. Thinking of the sacred in nature.

Anonymous said...

Tuis love to land in the branches of the gum trees behind our house, the gums and the natives do co-exist beautifully. There is something about the way gums become more naked as they mature, stripping away the bark - becoming more themselves - both restful and inspiring..


Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful post and lovely thoughts of the gum trees. I applaud your community, and you, for finding a away to mesh old plantings with new, native with transplanted. What a peaceful moment in time for you, and for us in your telling.

Juliet said...

Sue, thank you for mentioning the tuis, because I heard them singing yesterday and now realise they must have been perched in the gum trees. Maybe they like the view they get from being so high?
And yes, Penny, as in nature, so in life.
thank you Joan and Marilyn also for your comments. I'm so glad you are enjoying A Cup of Sunlight, Joan.

Anne said...

I have managed to join as a Follower, but I have been ever since your blog started, I just didn't show up on the list!

Gum trees are a great subject for close-up photography because they have such interesting bark. In a gardens near us (Hilliers Arboretum near Romsey) there are two magnificent gum trees. I must go and visit again because they also have Art in the Gardens. Different sculptures every year.

What a wonderful blue sky to show off the whiteness of the trunks. I shall make a note to go and see them on our next trip to the Antipodes.

Juliet said...

Yes, I'll take you there, and tell you the whole story, which is really very funny! I know you'll enjoy it.