This ancient rainforest is further east than all of Europe and most of Asia. It has faced – and withstood - the vast ocean that covers half of the globe for more than sixty million years. The huge convoluted trees, each a world and ecosystem in itself, support and protect many veils of canopy that hold back the fireball of the Sun, preserving the deep waters of the Earth residing undisturbed at their roots.
This forest first grew out of the bones of a massive volcano that was active when the last dinosaurs stalked on a slightly smaller Earth. For many millions of years, species have been born here, arising and spreading from this multiplex arcology of life forms – several thousand species of animals and plants detail each acre of soil.
This week avocados, raspberries, guavas, lilli pillis and feijoa and early lemonade fruit and limes are all ripe, in a century old clearing torn out of the forest for domesticated aurochs by enslaved native labourers working under domesticated primate squatters. Their horned beasts with horny hooves kept the forest from regenerating, compacting the soil and reducing a vast productive garden to a monoculture of meat, grass and thistles. The Earth responded with prickles and thorny vines in an attempt to bandage itself and hold off its assailants.
Into this sunny space eye began planting trees since my arrival decades ago, many of which are now bearing organic fruit and nuts and slowly recreating canopies. Tons. Replacing and diversifying the rainforest is a long rewarding process. The now shady riverbanks, held back by the bindings of a milliard strong roots vining through them no longer collapse into the ocean.
Eye leap into the water in a shallow dive, eyes wide to see twin tortoises darting away beneath me, eyes abulge as they’re taken unawares by my gliding shadow. Today while standing in the river, surrounded by a ticklish cloud of fearless fingerling fish, a young silver perch dives up out of the river, momentarily flying in air before falling back in a ballistic flight toward the Sun, six plashing leaps leaving seven circles spreading in its wake as it returns to the liquid crystal with a blue dragonfly quivering in its jaws. A large catfish lolls beneath a half submerged mossy log, sucking algae from the ancient wood with rubbery kisses. Hands cupped, eye drink deep the liquid crystal.
Today and yesterday eye make mulch, carry wood and stone, pick fruit (and eat it) and make plans for more plants while cleaning up the autumn detritus of a wet and fertile year.
A young goanna scampers up as the guinea fowl, chickens and peahen are fed, darting in expectantly to share the food with them. They stand back, complaining. Each sunset the house possum – born in the cobwebbed loft a few months ago -arrives for its customary meal of whatever’s been left on the table, bench or sink before greeting the night.
Eye test a found object – a car battery – by writing this, using it to power the computer. It works.
Paradise takes nothing but time – and a little care. There’s plenty for everyone – but the Garden has very little room for carnivores or banal, blind predation by large, destructive horned meat.
What once lived where you live now? Is it possible to truly know what you’ve lost when it’s gone?
And will it come back before or after you’re gone?
- R. Ayana
images - author's (fair use ok)
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