When I was a child thinking that the bushland and the seascapes were infinite, we used to go with our buckets and bring home what we found in the rock pools, and collect all the wildflowers we could pick from the bush.
Now the fish and other creatures and the living shellfish are gone from the pools. The rare and beautiful flowers are gone from what remains of the bush – the orchids, greenhood, tiger lily and the delicate spider orchids are gone. The sky-blue pincushions, the early nancies, the trigger flowers, the milkmaids, the egg-and=bacon, the chocolate flowers – all gone. Only occasionally a century flower appears in my garden.
We used to collect all the tadpoles we could find from the creek. Frogs are rare nowadays.
Boys – and men too – collected eggs from birds’ nest for their collections. Lots of folk collected butterflies – blue, brown, white, and every sort of patterned wings.
If only we had collected photographs, if only we had been bird-twitchers watching for a sight of them.
We did not know.
Today we still do not know much. Our cars, four-wheel drives especially, do not take photographs of what they leave behind us, on creek banks, on rutted earth. The photographs in the ads show them plunging through creeks and standing amid low grasses, not the aftermath.
The beaches that were once so white and soft, and edged with marram grass and ti-tree – now cleaned by tractors from the litter people leave behind on the grey sand. These beaches were close to home. Now people go further and further seeking more unspoiled beaches – to spoil.
We build our houses where the bushland creatures and flowers once flourished.
Today we need to think of pleasures as enjoyments that are watched rather than touched and collected. We need to look behind us we leave