Letter to Mother Nature

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you. To be honest, after your behaviour in what was known as the Black Summer of 2019 and 2020, I was ready to turn my back on you forever. That you could be so coldly cruel, so indiscriminately destructive.  I know you’re just doing what comes naturally, but the fury and the willfulness you showed during those devastating bushfires was heartbreaking. We’re still hurting.

Then along came COVID 19. The less said about this the better. Suffice to say, we’re all doing our best to combat it.

Now here we are in October and I have to say, you’ve really outdone yourself. It’s those beautiful splashes of colour that have magically appeared all across Brisbane that have prompted me to write – the proliferation of nasturtiums, the bougainvilleas, flame trees and of course the jacarandas. If this is your attempt to apologise I guess it’s a start.

The jacarandas are especially beautiful this year. I’m Brisbane born and bred, but those exquisite, fragile blooms take me by surprise every year. When I was a student they were November’s quiet admonishment to step up the study, your way of telling me each year that exams were just around the corner.

Now though, with no overdue assignments to sully their arrival, this year in particular, and a little early, they simply take my breath away. As I look across the valley from my hill, I wonder at their delicate lilac exhalations appearing like puffs of purple clouds, violet smudges on a green canvas.

Occasionally, for a special treat, you will nestle a silky oak in the embrace of a jacaranda’s spreading arms, the gold orange sprays of the oak complementing the mauve of its companion more cunningly than Monet or Matisse ever could.

Thank you for the soothing grace of these majestic trees. Simply resting under the quiet purple hush of the jacaranda is a miracle of calm in this year’s hectic sea of uncertainty and anxiety – a Mahler symphony, all soft edges and blurred tones. It’s hard to imagine there could be anything bad in a world where there are jacarandas.

And oh, the bougainvilleas! How they flourish along the foreshore of the now benign Brisbane River at Southbank, where your fierce strength has cut a swathe of destruction more than once. These extravagant trees swagger row upon row, effusive in their impossibly brilliant fuchsias, pinks and reds. If jacarandas conjure up Mahler, then these brassy explosions of colour are a Mariachi band, clamouring for our attention.

I am in awe of you, Mother Nature, in all your marvelous contradiction. One day you break our hearts with your terrible power, reminding us how vulnerable we mere humans are in the face of such might. Yet you enthrall us every day with a million small miracles – the perfectly formed petal, the bright green tree frog, the fragile strength of a spider’s web.  

In the bushfires, you showed us how your brute force can change lives, leaving ash and sorrow in its wake. Now you proffer the sight of a humble posse of cheerfully nodding nasturtiums, springing up unbidden to festoon desolate building sites and footpaths. And those wonderful jacarandas.

In this subtropical, seasonless city, where harsh, endless summers suck the life from our parks and gardens, and parch our souls, we yearn for these glimpses, these gifts you give of fleeting beauty.

So Mother Nature, I want to thank you for this  incredible show. You really have outdone yourself.

And with summer coming on, I’m begging you to stay your mighty hand. Will you please be kind this year?

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