A walk in the green room

posted in: Writing 6

Binna Burra, September 2021

The forest always gives so much. But I need to slow down, to observe, to open myself to its abundance, for this to happen.

As I walk into the forest I see the different layers, shapes, colours of green that are the leaves, foliage, breathing apparatus, solar panels, clothing, breath, life and body of the plants. Food for insect, food for possum and pademelon. Foil for light shining down from above. Light-trapper, sun-drinker, casting a gentle green light over me.

Green, the colour of calming and soothing, I am in the green room now. The ancestral green room of all humans on earth. How I have strayed from this green room, my immediate ancestors tilling the alluvial soil in a cold country with wide-open watery skies and no forests at all. Perhaps only stands of pines, planted by people.

But this forest, seeds scattered by bird, bat, and wind. Seeds planted by birds scratching and animals digging, covered by showers of pattering dropped leaves from above. Watered in by misty clouds that gently soak the mountains, or wild summer downpours of driving, drenching rain.

Wild forest, perhaps some special plants carefully carried here and planted by people. The first people here, what did they think of this wild jungle, this endless green room? Perhaps not so much a thinking, but a being, a living with, a breathing of the same air, imbibing water from the same rains, so the forest becomes part of the person, the person is part of the forest.

Do I feel that way too?

This forest makes sense to me in a way that human-built places do not. Something in the way the trees branch. Something in the bird calls, never intrusive or jarring. Hinting at other stories than mine, feathery warm agendas stirring the spring air, gently.

But making this place larger, expanding my grasp on the reality of this place. And partly because the sounds come from high and low, near and far. Some calling and responding to each other, some seemingly calling to no-one. But a thousand, no perhaps a million beings are listening, if I count all living things in this place, this space immediately around me, plus all of the ancestors whose spirits live on. And perhaps also the spirits of those other people who have visited this place, and been changed forever.

A human’s relationship with nature is a two-way thing. Nature provides, it suggests, it shakes us up, it surprises us, delights us, scares us, comforts us. It cares for us. If we are open to it. What is this if not a conversation, a relationship, a kinship with a beloved other?

6 Responses

  1. Melanie Venz

    Beautifully evocative, Paula – thank you.

    • Paula Peeters

      Thankyou Mel for reading 🙂

  2. Peter

    I am looking forward to walking in the Binna Burra green room… when the border opens again.

    • Paula Peeters

      It’s certainly looking very green and leafy, including the areas that were burnt 2 years ago 🙂

  3. Frances Grindlay

    How thoroughly you have cottoned on to and described what my relationship with my 2 acres does for me. The big trees, the bushes, the plants, the grasses, the water, the weather, the ancient history, the recent history, the changes, the microscopic animals and the two legged and 4 legged ones- who hang about here. Last week i saw the black ‘art’ boxes- a bird for each one -drawn in neon light with movements of pecking the ground outside the NGV. I saw a giant sugar glider dominate it and swoop us on a giant screen on Swanston St . This week I know my sugar gliders are huddled up in the white gums and I’m looking out my window at two ducks and a magpie on the grass walking about and being as they do. Thanks for your writings

    • Paula Peeters

      Hey Frances, lovely to hear from you, and I am really glad that my writing speaks to you. All the best, Paula