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