We have this tree at the bottom of our long driveway. I pass it at least once a day when I check the mailbox and I’ve noticed it had some deep pink/crimson flowers on it from time to time and that it was evergreen. And that was it.
Not long ago Moozle was looking around the garden and cut off a small section from it to draw in her nature notebook. She asked me if I knew what it was but I didn’t have a clue. That wasn’t good enough so I went searching and to cut a long story short, I found out that it was a Port Wine Magnolia. I was a bit disgusted with myself because I’d seen this plant before and should have recognised it. Its position on our driveway obscures it a little and keeps it in shade but it has flowers that I didn’t think to smell. Port Wine Magnolia flowers smell like a fruity chewing gum or banana paddle pops. So there are many different ways to help identify plants if you’re not always hurrying past them.
Moozle’s drawing of a Wedge-tailed Eagle. We saw one standing by the edge of the road on a trip we did inland a few years ago. I think the word ‘awesome’ is so often misused but it fits the description of this Australian bird. It certainly takes your breath away to see it in real life in the open. It has such iconic legs but Moozle decided to concentrate on the head with this drawing…
Grevillea – Australian native as is the yellow grevillea below but I think both are cultivars
My neglected nature notebook… I decided after looking through some student’s work at the Armitt Museum last month that I’d make a regular effort to journal my nature sightings and thoughts but leave drawing/painting until I get the opportunity and time. Today I drew the brown cuckoo dove that flew up to our verandah a couple of weeks ago to visit me when I was having a quiet moment all on my ownsome.
A Superb Lyrebird next to our house – I’d heard what I thought was numerous birds carrying on in the bush but it was not until I caught sight of this one that I realised I’d been duped. I’m not sure if this is a female lyrebird because we saw it later (unless there’s another one) displaying its long filmy tail and dancing around so presumed it was the male. I wish we’d caught it on video!
In Nature Studies in Australia, William Gillies gives us this advice: ‘To enable the student who has been absorbed with the investigation of a corner of Nature to bring his pet subjects into relation with other parts of Nature, and all the parts into relation with the whole, the poets who deal with nature should be read and re-read.’
He uses an example from Botany where a student might study the details of a dandelion. He suggests that afterwards the student reads a poem such as James Russell Lowell’s To the Dandelion. Here is the last verse of the poem, which I think contains a powerful image:
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart,
Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,
Did we but pay the love we owe,
And with a child’s undoubting wisdom look
On all these living pages of God’s book.