Exposed yet protected 

On Thursday afternoon, Rohan asked to go for a walk to escape the noisy toddlers in the tent beside ours, which is hypocritical because he’s the noisiest person I know.

Yes, that is the way to O’Reilly’s, but it’s too far to walk this afternoon.

It was 4pm, too late to walk far, but we set out south-ish on the Border Track, where the forest’s greens were filtered into afternoon yellow, beige and brown.

In the distance the wind wound up like fairy floss, gaining momentum, bellowing with a sound between a roar and a hiss, massive, coming, coming, coming.

A gust arrived above us, fracturing the canopy from a united cradle of shade and microclimate into infinite warring blades and arrows thrashing against each other, every leaf and twig an enemy vying to maintain position in the sky, every branch a clashing elbow, beating the others down.

Amazed and unnerved by the canopy now at war, I could see how people found god in that awe inspiring power, but I was more concerned with our immediate safety, and we left the forest to its fight.

We returned to the campground where barely a breeze stirred the bushes. The only hint of the trees’ combat, just a hundred metres away, was the wind’s whispered threat that it would arrive.

A view to afternoon light through a fig.

The sun sank until only our lanterns and the moon lit the campsite—no flames with the total fire ban. Later, in the darkness, we lay on slippery airbeds watching the stars shine like sharp white glitter, scattered across the sky.

Sleeping Rohan, not quite. I wished.

The wind still stalked the mountain, whipping the trees into frenzied battle, threatening from afar that it was coming, coming, coming, to cast our tent down the steep side of the mountain. I held my breath, listening, waiting; turning on my airbed, unable to sleep.

But the wind never arrived.

So, I wondered if the campground was protected by the shape of the landscape, and how long this place had been used as a camp. Perhaps for thousands of years, just as Australian main roads were used by Aboriginals, long before the British invasion. I wondered about the battles over land that we don’t hear about when we visit these mountains.

It was only one gusty night that the wind didn’t touch our tent. I’m certain that some nights the wind must blow through that sanctuary, billow tent walls, rattle ties, capture flies and toss them towards the stars like kites.

I woke under a calm blue sky, with grey tree trunks and branches towering on the edge of my circle of view, showing their green leaves to the light.

We’d slept face to face with the sky, exposed yet protected. I wondered, how many people had slept in that bedroom, over how many thousands of years?


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