As we approach the two-year mark, I want to document some of the ‘mind shifting’ moments that have occurred since we moved in. I think I am substantially a different woman from the one who lived in the centre of the city two years ago. The topic I have selected for this first post is Ecosystem because it reflects the core focus of my blog.
When I first moved in, I knew we had some natural bushland, and I knew there would be some interesting birds. Beyond that, to me the landscape looked like a whole lot of scrubby trees with bracken growing beneath them. I valued the peace and the privacy they would afford me, and I hoped they might shelter a kangaroo. However I didn’t really see them. I would walk around without even noticing the wide variety of plant species, tell-tale marks left by wildlife, and even most of the birds.
Almost all of our visitors do the same thing. They walk at a fast pace, as if the objective is to move through the bush as quickly as possible. They seem uncomfortable. They look past it rather than at it. Only very rarely do they use their senses to notice something. Mostly they see the bush as a mess of shed bark, fallen leaves and animal droppings. One visitor even commented “Why don’t you cut down all of these trees and plant some nice ones?”
The moment I came to see beyond the bracken and bark was on a late Winter weekend a month or two after we’d settled in. A friend came to visit, having offered to do an orchid survey. I remember thinking that she would not find anything, as we didn’t have any flowers on our property. Following her finger to the tiny round leaves covering the ground, coming to the realisation that each tiny leaf was a separate terrestrial orchid plant, and not being able to take a step forward nor backward without standing on a bunch of them was the beginning of a journey for me.
Each time I research a species of plant, bird, animal, insect or fungi for a post, I learn something new about how each of these elements work together as an ecosystem. The terrestrial orchids often grow in the same location as fungi – there is a connection between the two. Beautiful butterflies rely on fallen bark and leaves to shelter the larvae which in turn feed the birds and smaller mammals. It’s all connected and it matters.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve come to look for beauty in small details. The colour of bark when it rains, the sculptural shape of ant hills, the glint of light from the back of an iridescent insect, the curl of an unfurling bracken frond, the hint of pink on tea-tree buds… and come Spring, tiny dots of pink, yellow and blue scattered everywhere. I can see animal tracks which run up tree trunks, tiny eyelash fungi growing in wallaby droppings, spot the different shades of green on tiny orchid leaves and locate the damp patches of ground which shelter different species. I look beyond the leaves to see what else is on the ground – moss, lichen, fungi and seed cases of various shapes and sizes. Looking at scats, I note where the mammals have been throughout the night. Even in these cold Winter months, there is beauty to behold. The recent rain has refreshed the moss, and new tiny green leaves give a hint of the flowers to come.
It’s no longer a mass of anything, but a myriad of very different species all coexisting on our land.