Na­ture’s sym­phony

Savour­ing na­ture’s slow, steady rhythms in the gar­den and be­yond helps MICHAEL McCOY main­tain his equi­lib­rium

Gardening Australia - - T HE BIG PICTURE -

Be­fore dawn this morn­ing I was sit­ting in si­lence in my home of­fice. Sud­denly, with­out warn­ing or con­scious in­tent, I tuned into the ex­ter­nal sound­scape. In a tree right out­side the win­dow, I could hear the twit­ter­ings and whis­tles of a gang of crim­son rosel­las in end­less gos­sipy chat­ter, putting me in mind of the clus­ters of lo­cal blokes in Ly­cra that clog up all the out­door seat­ing in lo­cal cafes.

A lot fur­ther away a cou­ple of mag­pies were let­ting rip with their de­li­ciously liq­uid car­olling. And in the far dis­tance was the mo­not­o­nous and in­sis­tent caw­ing of a sin­gle crow. The ef­fect was spec­tac­u­larly 3D, given that I was in an in­su­lated room with dou­ble glaz­ing. I could pick both the pre­cise di­rec­tion and a rough es­ti­mate of the dis­tance of the source of each of th­ese sounds. The frogs, who can rise to a roar, were yet to be­gin their cho­rus.

From the op­po­site di­rec­tion en­tirely came the hum of a free­way, a cou­ple of kilo­me­tres away. It’s not a sound

I love, but nei­ther do I mind it, as long as I can re­main less aware of it than the noises of na­ture around me.

In a sense, that’s the rea­son I gar­den. There’s no es­cap­ing the world of man and mech­a­ni­sa­tion, and I wouldn’t es­cape it even if I could. I just need to keep it in its place. I want to live more aware of na­ture and its sys­tems than of hu­mans and theirs.

I like na­ture’s slow­ness. I love its an­cient, eter­nal rhythms, whether that’s the move­ment of the sun through­out a sin­gle day, the cy­cle of birth, growth and de­cay with each grow­ing sea­son, or the re­as­sur­ing an­nual re­turn of, say, the lil­i­ums, which are bud­ding right now.

I love that I go out­side to get from my bed­room to the rest of the house. Every day starts and ends with an un­avoid­able check-in with the weather and con­di­tions that are pre­vail­ing in this huge, re­as­sur­ing, ter­ri­fy­ing, glo­ri­ously var­ied and in­fin­itely in­ter­est­ing sys­tem that I get to part­ner with for my ‘three score years and ten’.

I don’t know why we’re in the habit of think­ing that our crazy, time-poor lives con­sti­tute the ‘real’ world. I can say with the con­fi­dence of years of in­sis­tent ex­pe­ri­ence that it’s no more real than the slower, qui­eter, stead­ier world of the gar­den right out­side my door.

Michael blogs at the­gar­

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