Posted February 15 2024
On a recent rehoming I was taken down some dusty tracks; they wound this way and that, and as they did, my mind wandered with them. I was struck by the raw beauty that daily abounds as Louis Armstrong belted out “What a wonderful world” in my head.

Then I came upon a most glorious sight. A stand of around four of the most brilliant scarlet red flowering gum trees. Those in the know will readily identify them as Corymbia ficifolia. However, one look at my watch told I would have to better drink in their beauty on the way back. And that I most certainly did.

Edging to the side of the road, I got out and stood in awe at their magnificence that rose several metres high above the leaf-littered ground. I wondered by what circumstance they came to be planted there. Perhaps a bygone era had seen them a part of a grand property entrance; perhaps they had been a random planting by some “Johnny Appleseed” traveller; I will never know, but their brilliance I most certainly would.

Nature is such a joy, such a beauty, yet in our busy lives we so often pass it by

And then the thought came to me: I would grab a few branches and take them home so I could further enjoy their beauty. As my eyes sought to find the most brilliant of clusters, I inched closer, “Hmm, now which one should I take?” Then, stopping me in my tracks was the industrious hum of dozens and dozens of busy bees. Wings flapping nineteen to the dozen, they took no notice of me.

But I was most surely taken by them.

Taking a step back, I rearranged my thoughts, and too my priorities. What if everyone who passed by these glorious trees was to do the same as I was about to do? Granted, on this dusty track there would probably be only a few. But then I thought about the bees, and how much those pollen-producing flowers meant to them. Humbled by the experience, I sat a while and just watched, training my eye between the flowers and bees.

And smiled.

Nature is such a joy, such a beauty, yet in our busy lives we so often pass it by. If you are in any doubt about this, step outside for moment, take a nature walk if you can, and even if you cannot, bend down on your knees and eye a patch of grass – I guarantee you will be incredibly surprised as to how much life and wonder you can see.

Granted, though, we humans too are a part of nature, albeit, our influence would have to be the most destructive. Pinning on that notion, I thought of the gentle animals I had just delivered to their loving forever home. Domesticated “farm” animal species, animals so manipulated by humans there now is no real place for them in nature, unlike their wild cousins they have been selectively bred from. For we humans have taken so much from the lives of animals, yet what have we given them in return?

We have bred these hapless animals, who have clearly drawn the shortest of straws in domesticated species, to have characteristics that our species desire. Yet characteristics that are so often detrimental, on a kaleidoscope of levels, to the animals themselves. Heartbreakingly cutting their lives short, even if they make it to sanctuary, where they will require a lifetime of loving care. And even for those animals whose lives are not so impacted, they have been reduced to commodities, production units and the status of “property”. Their wellbeing concerns and needs are often discounted, if even considered at all.

Jumping back into the vehicle, I headed off, “flowering gumless” and all, and then I realised I hadn’t even taken a photo. “I’ll have to turn back and grab one,” I thought. But then it struck me that some things in life are best captured by the heart. And this, I determined, shall be one of them.

In that moment, I was reminded: we humans are indeed kind by nature, yet we have somehow lost our way

Driving back along the narrow winding road, I got stuck behind a truck, and with my day now delayed by my sojourn with the flowering gums, a slight annoyance started to niggle at me. However, that quickly evaporated as the truck slowed and inched to the side of the road, the driver’s right arm popped out and ushered me ahead. As I passed by their window, our simultaneous nod of heads spoke a silent language of kindness that filled my heart to the brim with the beauty of our species.

And in that moment, I was reminded: we humans are indeed kind by nature, yet we have somehow lost our way. With the only path back to salvation coming from seeing ourselves in others, regardless of who the other may be, whether a fellow traveller on this planet, a busy little bee or a farmed animal who wants to live and feel the sunshine, just like you and me.

So please take with you this resolve: to tread lighter, live kinder and share your love wider. For there is no better time for us all to give and not take from this world and all of her inhabitants.