Nature's Place

On The Wild Side

Today I went into the nature reserve for a walk. The entrance is about one kilometer from where I live. I looked again at the two big pine trees. They really stand out where they are, there’s nothing else like them in the immediate area. They stand alone together towering above all the other smaller trees and bush. (RIMG0761.JPG)

Standing there for the second time I noticed a few things I didn’t see the first time. For instance, the stag fern are primarily on only one of the trees, the one with the most branches, in fact the healthier looking one. And under the other tree there was a lot of huge mushrooms, some as big as 7 or 8 inches in diameter and about the same tall. I have never seen them before. And they are nowhere else in such concentrations in the bush here. (RIMG0903.JPG)

These pine trees have the look and feel of an ancient species and I suspect the stag fern may be too because of the obvious relationship. The only other stag fern in the reserve are scattered in ones and are relatively very few. Maybe being from the same geologic era gives them an affinity. Perhaps there is some symbiosis in the relationship. Maybe this pine tree is the stag fern nursery, from where the fern populates the forest? Clearly the stag fern favours the pine wood to grow on. Here’s a real beauty. (RIMG0884)

I went from there up a trail which led to a road where a few houses are and after a while I noticed an old track behind a gate with no fence to the side of it. So I went in to have a look. As is often the case with these old tracks it quickly became overgrown the further in I went, but I kept going since they usually go somewhere. I only found such dense growth I would need a machete to cut my way through. Maybe I’ll do that sometime.

On the way back I took a little detour, exploring, and I came upon a very old structure. It was only a base of a building made of a pebble and concrete mix and with walls in places only 12 inches high and no roof or glass about. But with here and there a metal bolt sticking up from the ‘wall’. There was no sign at all to suggest what it may once have been. I didn’t know what to make of it at all.

On the way out of this place I found a square concrete water tank that hadn’t been used for some time. A curious thing, on two corners up top there were what looked like the knobs from the top of an old iron bed end embedded in the concrete.

I left this place and took the old quarry trail back down into the reserve and came to an intersection of four trails. To the right was Optus trail and I went down that for a while. A short way in I came across a bush wallaby, dark reddish brown fur about three feet tall when it stood straight. It didn’t notice me for a while so I was able just to watch it as it went about its business, probably looking for food of some kind.

As soon as I made a noise or move it stopped dead still and looked in my direction. I suspect their eyesight is not very good because it took for me to move again for it to register my presence and run off into the bush. I didn’t go down this trail very far as it was going off in the opposite direction to my place and I was already getting tired, especially my knees and hips. It’s a while since I did so much walking as I’ve been doing the last week.

I turned back to the intersection and recognized a trail I had been on recently but there was another trail that would also take me where I wanted to go, at least not in the opposite direction. I went down this trail for a while before I came to another big old pine tree. Scattered around the base of this tree there were recently fallen branches, blown down in recent winds I bet, with stag fern attached and still in good condition.

I looked up to see where it all came from and I noticed there was a fig tree growing out of a stag fern growing on a branch of the pine tree. Amazing eh? (RIMG0795.JPG) It looked like a fig tree to me, they are known as opportunists. This might look like a tenuous opportunity at best but I suspect the fig has a few tricks up its sleeve. I’ve seen one, about two feet tall, in a similar situation ten feet off the ground and already it had a root system that had made its way down a branch and had tendrils hanging just a few feet off the ground. It was intent on surviving, no question.

I picked up one little branch with a stag fern on it about four inches in diameter, and took it with me on down the trail. I recognized this trail from a few years ago when I passed through this area. But then it was so wet the trail was impassable. I don’t know how I found this place then though, it is so out of the way.

A little further on I came to a creek running across the trail and as I got close I could hear what sounded like the gunfire on the news bulletins of the fight for Bagdad. Crack, crack, crack, crack. It was some kind of frog I couldn’t see, but I have seen and heard so many since coming back to Australia they are unmistakable in the situation, wet, swampy, tall reeds and they went quiet when I got up close.

This was the creek I couldn’t cross those few years ago. I noticed some insole leather as I came up to the creek, just the ball of the foot. And when I got to the creek I saw the other shoe stuck in the mud and mostly under water now. I thought someone didn’t make it, not with their shoes anyway.

The mud is like the emotion that sticks and pulls you down when you are attached to something that doesn’t fit the situation. You either let go the attachment, the shoe, or get stuck in the mud, of emotion. Then I came across the rest of the other shoe, looks like someone tried to hold on to at least one of them. (RIMG0908 + 909)

I could hear the roar of the ocean beating on the shore not far ahead so I knew where I was now. As I was walking and looking where I put my feet, at least peripherally, I saw a bright green caterpillar squirming in the worn compacted part of the trail. I stopped to have a closer look since caterpillars don’t usually move so vigorously and out in the open like that where they are in full view of any predator.

I bring my reading glasses with me these days when I go walking in the bush so I can see clearly anything I want to see close up. When I got close to this creature I could see the cause of its vigorous wriggling. There were ants on it, little black ants. And unless you are fast, armoured and big, or some combination of these characteristics, you are doomed if the ants get a hold of you. I’ve seen it before with other more capable creatures than the caterpillar.

Occasionally I am moved to release a creature I find trapped by another creatures snare, such as a flying insect from a spiders web, but I wasn’t moved to do anything here. The ants have to eat and the caterpillar was doomed. Simple as that. I walked on.

A little further on I came out at the beach and it was good to see the waves breaking on the sand. The sea is wild along this stretch of coast with nothing to interrupt the tide as it worked its way up and down the seven mile long beach. Part of the wildness comes from the shifting sands that are always changing the currents and rips at the shore.

I turned back down the trail to go home and on the way, just as I was about to put my foot down, I noticed out of the lower edge of my sight a small fast moving light green insect disappear under my shoe. I walked the next step and stopped to turn and have a look at what it was. When I got down to it I could see it was a small green spider and it was very still. It didn’t look crushed as it would have been if I had actually stepped on it, so I blew on it and to my surprise it darted away. Lucky little fellow.

I made my way home after that without more adventure. I was very tired when I got home and just sat for a while. Sitting back in the recliner, so relaxing. Feeling the sensation of rest.

Then I did some mowing. As long as it rains there’s mowing to be done. And it always rains, it’s just a matter of time.

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