~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

In Memory of the Big River Gums

Posted by carolom on March 16, 2007

Many years ago I worked in a beautiful old homestead that had been renovated to become a shelter for homeless teenagers…The House was set in several acres on land that was adjacent to a river and lushly populated with the magnificent Big River Gums that have huge green lungs for breathing the air clean along busy Waterloo Corner Road…..
This kind of setting was often the traditional gathering place in less complex times when the Land was still in the hands and hearts of the rightful custodians.

This is The House…

I left The House in the early 90’s and over the years it has undergone several incarnations…always remaining a place of service and community.
A few years ago I heard that ‘they cut down the Big River Gums’ and I decided I did not want to go back there to see the land bare of those magnificent trees that I loved for so many years…at night time I would hear them breathe in the wind, in the mornings their branches full of birds would wake up the residents with the calls of magpies and galahs and rainbow lorikeets…sometimes you could smell the euclayptus in the air and many a restless teenager found quiet time sitting under the huge branches that covered the front of the grounds.

I was in the region today and after many years of habitually ignoring the old road where The House is based…I decided to go back to the place that holds so many fond memories and images of Big Trees watching over the shelters everyday life…
I pulled into the property and realised that the tree culling had not been as extensive as I had envisioned…there is definitely a gaping gap in the area closest to The House but many of the trees on the peripheral remain…like this one….

I strolled around the property and was taken aback when I came upon the felled- bodies of the Big River Gums laying in a greying pile by the old olive grove….
It felt like I had come upon an elephants grave yard where the large bones were discarded to the elements and my sadness over the loss of these magnificent, story-laden Big River Gums was felt at a place hundreds of years back in time…

This is what I came across….

I sat for awhile and remembered the seasons and wind storms, the thunder and rains and long hot desert summers that these magnificent trees had grown through together. I remembered how I used to park my old volkswagon under the largest tree…ignoring the ‘careful of falling branches’ speak in favour or the shade and sense of always-protected-never-harmed by the Big Trees…
I wondered about the dozens of birds nests that appeared every spring and the possums habitat that disappeared in an instant…I wondered where all those restless teenagers are almost 20 years later….

Although I have never known the stories of the local Aboriginal people, I felt sure that the land by the river would have been a part of the life of the traditional owners because even amongst the car fumes and roads and buildings and traffic, the land retains a special vibration that is palpable.

As I sat reflecting on time and loss and death and rebirth and happy times and sad times, I noticed one of the remaining Trees watching me….listening to my thoughts and sharing in my loss….I felt the presence of the big River Gum, alive and vibrant, surrounded by the amputated trunks on the ground.

So clear was the presence of the Spirit of the Tree that his heavy brow, thick lips and bearded face can be clearly seen at the base of the trunk on the right hand side…

Can you see what I saw? …look at his big heavy brow and beard touching the ground as he wathces over the bodies of the “Standing People” now fallen to the ground…

I always talked to those Big River Gums ….they were a part of my life for such a long time…and today I heard them speak back to me as I sat there at the graveside of some very dear old friends…….

Sometimes it is good to go back to places we swore we would never visit again because even amongst the sadness and memories there is beauty to be found if our eyes are open……

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4 Responses to “In Memory of the Big River Gums”

  1. Beautiful post. These are wonderful trees. I would have spoken with them, sat beneath them, enjoyed them, too. Going back anywhere is difficult, for the changes don’t match the memories whether it’s missing trees or missing people. Yet there’s closure in going back, perhaps to learn that the place remains special in spite of the changes.

    –Malcolm

  2. Beautiful photographs. These are trees that I, too, love, and I have delighted in them in many places in Australia. It’s always sad to lose great, old trees.

  3. Grace said

    Oh, what a beautiful and honoring tribute to the Grandfathers, Carol! The Spirit of the Tree that you captured in your photograph is amazing. Truly the Grandfather was with you! 🙂

  4. maugny said

    What wonderful photos Carol, nearly as beautiful as my long ago and far away may tree! I stand in awe of your talent with words,art and understanding. Truly “the child becomes the teacher of the parent’. From a very proud Mam.

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