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Seeing the details

By R. McKenry

Recently I have become increasingly aware that our lives are temporary. In 2017, eight people I valued were diagnosed with cancer. Six died. Dementia is now the focus because it seems my beloved is at the beginning stages of this disease.

This month I want to write about making the most of each moment.

Bribie Island is as close to heaven as any place I know. There is so much to see. We have a habit of walking along one of the beaches each morning. What a choice! My favourite is Red Beach with its natural timber sculptures, the patterns in the sand drawn by wind and water, the raptors that nest in the tallest trees and the abundance of shells, small sea creatures and seaweed.

We also delight in seeing the dogs on the Woorim Beach, watching some brave the waves while others timidly wait on the water’s edge. All sorts of colours, shapes and sizes—dogs and their owners too.

At the Buckley’s Hole bird hide we watch the black swans prepare for a family. After the cygnets are hatched their parents teach them to swim, at first in the shallows then deeper water. Swallows that once nested in the hide each year were another example of impressive parenting. While chicks waited in the nest, the parents broke all speed records as they swooped in and out of the hide’s window, delivering insects caught in mid-air. Sadly, these nesting niches no longer exist.

On our walks along Banksia Beach our attention is drawn to rainbow lorikeets and the crimson rosellas that compete for the best real estate in hollow trees. Magpies fill the air with their glorious songs. Water birds that have come to Bribie to rest after migrating from as far away as the Arctic fill us with awe. How could they fly so far?

I paint and my husband takes photos. Perhaps this is why we have grown to love looking at the trunks of trees. Every tree wears its individual skin of bark, and each has its own pattern. The beautiful soft sheoak bark greets us whenever we park our car at Woorim. Further inland the hard, tessellated patterns of pine bark surprise us by changing colour, depending on whether or not it has been raining. It glows dark red when wet.

I should not omit mention of the Bongaree foreshore. Cyclists, walkers (often with walking frames), families with children, small dogs on leads pulling their doting owners along—all these people making the most of a scenic, comfortable place to enjoy. And I must not forget those fishing. And canoeing. Building sand castles, throwing balls, swimming and sunbathing. As we pass, most people smile and say hello. Older men often stop and chat with each other.

Look up and watch. The sky is forever changing. Sunsets, cloud formations, colours. Then, I suggest, look down and see the small things, and thank the stones, leaves and insects for their beauty.

I think what we look at and what we actually notice and see and appreciate in nature fits into the concept of mindfulness. Those of us who live on Bribie are fortunate. If we go out each day determined to see and hear the details of our surroundings, we make the most of the precious time and place we have.

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