To paraphrase Paul McCartney:
‘When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Nature comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…..’
I see him most mornings at first light.
A middle-sized Eastern Water-Dragon sitting on one of the rocks at the far end of the pool.
He is about 40 centimetres long and quite handsome.
Over the course of the morning he comes and goes. I watch him while I’m eating my breakfast. He disappears for a while and then my attention is drawn to some other – very young – dragons. Some so tiny, their body no thicker than a skewer.
Each year, between about October and May, some of these delightful dragons make our place their home. They come in sizes from about 12 centimetres and ‘thin as a whip’ to almost a metre long, strong and stripy.
The tail of a dragon takes up two-thirds of his size; baby dragons’ tails are mere threads at their end.
A couple of hours after breakfast, when I am having a cup of tea, a little dragon almost always runs out of the nearby creeper. He is quick at catching insects, mainly ants and I watch his tiny throat muscles move as he chews and swallows his prey.
He is often joined by another, slightly larger, dragon. They do not socialize but eye each other off from a safe distance.
One morning the tiniest dragon caught a garden worm. It was almost as big as him. ‘He’ll never eat that’, was my thought as I watched for some minutes as he began to manipulate his tiny mouth and jaw, swallowing hard. At one stage there was a piece of worm protruding from his mouth, looking as if a tongue, far too big for such a small creature, was poking out as a rude insult. It took minutes, but the worm was eventually down inside the little dragon, who then ran off (not as quickly as usual) – no doubt to have a big rest.
These are part of my outdoor observations, while house-bound during this terrible pandemic.
It’s not only dragons who keep me amused and uplifted.
There is a magpie who sits on the back fence and warbles his beautiful song most mornings. After a few minutes of singing, he glides down to the grass, eyes (and ears?) cocked, watching and listening. Silently he stalks invisible creatures before plunging his sharp beak into the ground, to emerge with a quickly eaten insect or grub.
The magpie is but one of the bird visitors. There are several currawongs who fly in and around - and a kookaburra who makes an occasional visit on a tree branch or fence top.
His laughter is a welcome sound - never long enough.
If the currawongs’ call joins the kookaburra’s, we know there’s a good possibility of rain.
We have small flocks of colourful lorikeets forever crowding the grevilleas, joining the noisy miners and blue-faced honey-eaters.
Lately butterflies of all colours and sizes have filled our backyard air, as well as dragonflies, big and small; blue, silver, black and red.
All these creatures are my companions every day.
They make days of isolation bearable.
Of course, we read books, we listen to music and catch up with podcasts and Twitter, Face Book, Face Time and News bulletins.
But it is the natural world and its wonder that is the saving force of ‘Lockdown’.
Our grass is green and the garden with all its current flowering glory helps greatly, as does the view from our back deck over to a small area of parkland that adjoins a treed golf course.
As I look through our palm trees and frangipani, I see clumps of tall eucalypts no further than a few hundred metres away. The koalas seem to have left but we never stop hoping for a re-visit.
I miss my (past) rural living but am grateful for the fact that we are not cooped up in a concrete city block with no view of nature.
I feel for city folk with no means of escape into the bush - or visits to the seaside. I especially feel for children who have no green grass to run on or trees to climb.
It is now that we have a great need for the benefits of the natural world.
Whether it’s water dragons, birds, butterflies or merely gardens and trees, we need these parts of nature to help us through the isolation forced on us by this dreadful Covid19 pandemic.
Stay well during this stressful time and try and find peace in nature and its surrounds, wherever you can.
Some interesting quotes:
From ‘MensLine’, Australia:
“…science and research is only just beginning to understand – that the healing power of nature can have a marked effect on mental wellbeing…”
Dr. Vicki Harber (US): “…when researchers compare children who play outdoors with those who play indoors, they find that the outdoor children have less stress, reduced aggression, and more happiness”.
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.”
The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (US): “…people who live within 1 kilometre of a park or a wooded area experience less anxiety and depression than those who live farther away from green space.”
From a report by the University of Minnesota:
“Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones…”
For anyone ‘upset’ by my referral to dragons and birds as ‘he’ and not ‘it’ (or ‘she’), I cannot bear to think of these beautiful creatures as mere ‘its’, and he/she is so clumsy, it just has to be ‘he’.