I was walking between South Yarra and Prahran railway stations the other day - Melbourne's just had its warmest winter July on record - when the light and the new growth of native plantings, the freshness of it all made me want to record what I saw before me.
So I came back today - with a camera - on a greyer, windy day, more typical of the time of year here. Above is one of a number of new plantings of a Hakea species I don't know and haven't seen before. I love its curling leaves.
Here it is again, looking ghostly, as so many of our natives do, they who have populated this continent in their legions.
Walking a railway line is a bit like reading between the lines, with bits of a past and a bit of a present hinting at what might be a future.
For some, "natives" are just another design element. For me, stuck in suburbia most of my life, they sing across space and time to a place I'd rather be in than here, in amongst the fences. We wave our arms because we are being moved to grow we do.
So the trains choof tirelessly in inner Melbourne, and the commuters commute. But just to the side, the real world - so I call it - reaches out.
A paper-bark and another Hakea climbing to the sky together. It doesn't matter to them that a train screeches every few minutes beneath them...
...although the event may hold the interest of a raven, Corvus coronoides, he whose echoing lament, I'm happy to say, haunts our suburbs still.
Gungurru, Eucalyptus caesia, native amongst granite outcrops in Western Australia, is exquisite, here on the other side of the continent. What I love about our natives, especially when I come across them in the city, is their ability to evoke another place and age altogether. I am not walking on concrete.
I am out instead among the thriving branches ( Kennedia prostrata, above ), facing the sky, taking whatever falls...
...bells, perhaps. Fuchsia Gum, Eucalyptus forrestiana, dangling ahead. Who'd know they were only minutes away from the Central Business District ( who'd want to know )?
I hope the world doesn't become so full of us conquesting humans every last bit of the past is sanitised or dumped. Here, a Victorian cottage rooftop, mercifully rusting.
Are we brave enough? Do we know what we're doing with our chemicals and politics and publicity? No. We believe, by and large, we don't need the world any more. It isn't Earth any more if we believe we're indestructible.
It could be, above, a hilltop seen before Western settlement - apart from the train tracks just visible on the right. I do not want pretty little gardens of pretty little flowers, but I hope spaces - margins - such as this, left over from the world's demands, grow wider.
I love Australia for its rawness. Some may flinch to see a world so undisguised. For me, it speaks of fighting back, of perseverance, of a sort of humming in the presence of threat.
The crippled shall walk, the meek shall inherit the earth, they who are last will be first...
...ah. Here on this track, between two train stations, it's not only strength and and indefatigability I see, but a quiet and unassuming gentleness.
I have a train to catch. But I never forget that the life I'm blessed to have been given contains forms and presences more beautiful than any gardener could have sculpted. And these accompany me. They are not to be railroaded.