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The Scrivener: Seeming Cycles

ÖToday, noisy squabbles constantly broke out among the chestnut teal. The black ducks (which are brown) were pursuing each other across the surface with anything but placidity. A wood-duck hissed menacingly at me as I walked past. It was a male, and his companion was his newly selected female. Looking rather silly with both a walking stick and a furled umbrella, I was perceived as a threatÖ

That wonderful wordsmith Brian Barratt, who can paint a picture in words that is clearer and more enduring than any image produced by a camera, casts a keen eye on life in his beloved Melbourne wetlands.

For more of Brianís columns please click on The Scrivener in the menu on his page.

And if you are in the mood for mental gymnastics, as I am sure you are, please visit his Web site The The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

Late this afternoon, while I was walking along the shared footpath cycle-track in the wetlands, three boys cycled past me. One pre-adolescent, one adolescent, and one post-adolescent. At least, thatís what their size and the tone of their voices told me. All pedalling like mad while chattering and laughing. The strange thing is that none of them had a bicycle.

Things are not always as they seem. For instance, let me tell you that the maximum temperature today has been 11į, and itís about 9į (outside) while Iím typing these words (indoors). Some readers overseas might think brrrrr, thatís well below freezing, have you had snow? But it wasnít and it isnít and thereís no snow in sight. Itís merely fairly cold.

We use the Celsius scale in this country. Our 11į is eleven degrees above freezing point, not twenty-one degrees below it. How strange.

In all weathers, our wonderful wetland area ó which is actually a flood easement basin ó is a place of peace and refreshment for the soul. The ducks wander around so peacefully on the placid lakes. The magpies carol so melodiously in the eucalypts. The mudlarks potter around and peck around so quietly in the mud-flats. Peaceful? Well, things are not always as they seem.

Today, noisy squabbles constantly broke out among the chestnut teal. The black ducks (which are brown) were pursuing each other across the surface with anything but placidity. A wood-duck hissed menacingly at me as I walked past. It was a male, and his companion was his newly selected female. Looking rather silly with both a walking stick and a furled umbrella, I was perceived as a threat. Magpies were swooping down to attack a pair of white-faced herons who had unwittingly entered magpie territory. In the cycle of seasons, the birds are getting ready for the nesting time which is to come.

Down behind the dam embankment and concrete spillway, where the footpath turns abruptly to follow the heavily tree-lined creek, a mudlark was busily attacking one of its kind. Over and over again, its wings ruffled and whirred, its beak clattered and clashed. It cared not that I was standing there, a mere human, watching the fight. Nor did it realise that it was attacking its own reflection in a mirror, mounted at the top of a tall pole, designed to show humans that someone else might be coming round the invisible bend.

I passed the cathedral-like tree which looks like a eucalypt but isnít. Its great spreading limbs arch up magnificently to the heavens. The texture and thickness of its bark changes with the seasons, but its colours are always enhanced when there is rain. When it is wet, the north-western side of the trunk looks as if itís been painted by Pissarro. The south-eastern side is Cezanne. If it is indeed a cathedral, it is a glorious sanctuary of Gaia, the goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus, the god of time.

Thereís a strange thing about gods and God. During my theological studies, over 50 years ago, I came to understand that the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same God under different names. However, like the mudlark, many of these people go through cycles of attacking their own reflections for the sake of three different Gods. Humans create God in their own image. Evidently, when the mudlark mentality flies in, charity and compassion fly out and joy departs.

But what of those three boys, pedalling joyously without a bicycle in sight? Each of them was precariously but skilfully mounted on his monocycle. You see, things arenít always as they seem.
© Copyright Brian Barratt

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