Mail Bag

Patrick’s egg

February 25, 2008


The “giant squid” egg on the beach didn’t actually arrive on the rising tide. That was just me having fun trying to get an interesting photo. Instead, it was sent in a padded box by young fourth grader Patrick Kammar from the Jemicy School near Baltimore, Maryland as part of a “migration project’ that is looking at the survival rate of those species that migrate through the seasons.

The teacher initially wrote: “We’ve had some trouble in the past getting our eggs through Australian Customs intact, but we thought we’d try.”


Well, the egg did make the 25,000 mile journey all in one piece. No Humpty Dumpty here. Not so lucky, though, (and this is what the school’s experiment is looking into) are the dead blue-bottle jelly fish and the never-to-hatch fish eggs seen in the photo alongside Patrick’s egg. Migration is a tricky business. Whether one is a bird, fish or human refugee, moving around the globe trying to survive is fraught with plenty of danger.

PS. For us surfers, seeing blue-bottle jellyfish is both good and bad. They have a nasty sting, but are an unfailing indication of warmer water as they come down to Tasmania on the warm currents from eastern Australia.


Pardon me

May 2, 2007

Still Another Day #VI

Pardon me, if when I want
to tell the story of my life
it’s the land I talk about.
This is the land.
It grows in your blood
and you grow.
If it dies in your blood
you die out.

Pablo Neruda

A bit worn at the edges and nearly camouflaged, the simple message is still there after two years. Tree took that human written word—once sharply white, crisp, handmade, newly formed—and transformed it into itself: into bark; into bleeding stains of growth and aged lichen-grey peels.

Four letters attached to tree make redundant what tree already knew. Still knows. It was always there, this love within the tree. Only us humans needed to have it spelt out. When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?

Yesterday… email from a friend who had just returned from Scotland:

meanwhile jet lag is keeping me awake – as are the log trucks now every fifteen minutes or so down the southern outlet – on this still night they are like a great roaring decelerating down the hill into town then rumbling down Macquarie Street – what a madness it all is – out there in Europe green is huge – what idiots run our govt down here.

Yesterday…..the editorial in the newspaper asked the question: “Should more Tasmanian forests be protected from logging?”  I replied:

The real tragedy is that the question is even asked. To continue putting to the axe aged forests thousands of years old, creates a wound in Tasmania’s psyche as great as the stain of its brutal convict days.

We keep denying the life sustaining power of nature; of its immense capacity to love us back into wholeness. Pardon me, but when the last of the ancient trees are cut down, what then?


Heartist Day

February 16, 2006

Like many other lucky people, I received Paulus Berensohn’s Valentine card this week. This year his drawing is, at once, more powerful and more pleading.


Opening up the card, Paulus writes on the inside:

the cry of the Heart
— to offer and give
— to need and receive
— to each other and our earth

For Paulus, the heart, in all its manifest shapes and sizes, is asking for help. In this time of global chaos, the cry of the heart is not specifically personal or solely human. Gaia also is hurting; anima mundi also is hurting; all creatures great and small are hurting. Love is needed everywhere.

pygmy_possum2On the morning of this Valentine’s Day, I found, half drowned in the bottom of a water jug, a Little Pygmy-possum desperately trying to stay alive. It had fallen in looking for something to drink, but due to its small size—two inches long, 60 mm—it was unable to climb or jump out of the jug. Boy, did it look miserable.

While resident artist, Sally, cuddled the little guy close to her belly to help lessen any hypothermic conditions, a hot-water bottle was prepared and positioned in the bottom of a box, followed by lots of soft clothing. Here, the pygmy-possum was gently placed in a warming hollow of clothes. Giving us what looked like a heartfelt “sweet thank you”, it then burrowed deep into the fabric and disappeared out of sight.

Nothing could be done now but wait until nightfall and see if this tiny nocturnal marsupial revived enough to climb out of the box and find its way beneath the oven where, I suppose, it feasted nightly on the bits of food and crumbs dropped by the messy chef.

When Sally and I returned late from a trip to Hobart for our own food gathering and a dinner out, we noticed that the box was empty. We went to bed sleepy in the contented knowledge that all had turned out okay.

pygmy_possom_babyBut, as in all matters of the heart, the doors of compassion, joy and pain keep opening and shutting. The “little guy” turned out to be a mother as, the next morning, I found two dead babies on the kitchen floor, most likely drowned while in the pouch of its mother and subsequently removed when she, herself, recovered. A third was later found by Sally.

All three are now buried under a stone at the base of the ancestral midden. May their little spirits rest in peace.


Circling yet again

December 21, 2005

Song (4)

Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,

each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone

into the darker circles of return.

Wendell Berry

Sally_HorneBy happy conincidence, I came across the above Wendell Berry poem a few days before Sally Horne set up in the studio to paint a series of four mandalas while in residence at Windgrove. With today being a “solstice” event, it only seems appropriate that she is painting circles within circles.

Myself……? I have come to accept the coming and going of Wingrove residents who leave me “changed, changing”; each resident a new cycle within the many cycles that we all turn in.

Also, in the mail this week, a copy of D.H. Lawrence’s version of the importance of recognizing, through ritual, that the solstice turnings are a necessary component of deepening our love for all and sundry.

“Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made personal—merely personal feeling—taken away from the rising and the setting of the sun, and cut off from the magical connection of the solstice and equinox. This is what is the matter with us, we are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth, the sun and the stars, and love is a grining mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of life and expected it to keep on blooming in our vase on the table…

…it is a question of relationship. We must get back into relation, vivid and nourishing relation to the cosmos, through daily ritual—the rituals of dawn and noon and sunset, the ritual of kindling the fire and pouring water…”

D.H. Lawrence


Win some/Lose some

July 28, 2005

I see the rainbow, but I also see the storm.

rainbow_stormThis week a 14 year old boy from Melbourne, who had recently visited Windgrove with his school mates, sent me a letter.

“You are definitely one of the most amazing people I have ever met! Your determination to save the environment is fantastic. The experiences that we had were nothing like anything we had experienced before.”

But I also received another email, part of which read: “……I take offence at your comments.”

In short, my determination to save the environment was fantastic for one person and an offence for another. The thing is, they were both correct.

The latter email came from someone whom I have known for around 15 years in the environment movement and who has even stayed at Windgrove a few times with his wife and child. He also works at the local Council and has a role to play in how the dirt bike noise issue gets resolved.

Earlier this week, when it seemed to us eleven property owners at Roaring Beach that our multiple letters of complaint about the dirt bikes were not being acted upon by our Council after the return of the dirt bikes on the weekend, well…… what can I say, but that I wrote a quite heated letter to the Council and castigated everyone, including my friend, for not being professional and upholding the law.

I even wrote the friend and said something along the line of: “If I have to choose between friendship or the environment, the environment will win.”.

I have since apologised, and my friend may or may not forgive me.

The point that I’m trying to make, however, is that doing a fantastic job for the environment is not ever easy. Friendships can be created, but friendships can as easily be lost.


The human form

February 10, 2005

My last blog stirred up a good deal of discussion.

Four extracted comments (from three women, one man):

“Your writing is defensive and aggressive. You say you want to praise the beauty and original blessing of the body, but the rage and defiance at the surface of your words is at odds with your stated intent.”

“I have just been onto your web site – so enjoyed your man in prayer.”

“Thank you Peter for spelling out and reminding me of the sacredness of our bodies.”

“It is a lovely photo of you and the marvellous tree… I am coming into a new practice and deep appreciation of my body lately. and entering my own inner wildness and uncharted cosmos within. All quite wonderful and I wish It had been sooner but I rejoice I am only in the early part of 2nd half of life. I have often thought of doing a nude photography class where we are all nude in nature- the “models” and the photographer and then we both switch…roles. It would be very beautiful, healing and respectful to do.”

I appreciate and value all four comments as there is something for me to consider within each of them.

Today, however, I want to avoid words and just share the photos I took yesterday of two sections of the sand stone cliffs at Roaring Beach that have elements of the human form in them.

cliff art 1

These ageless “torsos” are beyond beauty.

cliff art