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?