Gumnuts cracking open

It’s September and I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt for the first time since maybe February. It’s not quite warm enough for it with a cool breeze cutting through the morning sunshine, but I didn’t dress for the weather. I just wanted to feel like I could get away with it because winter is over and warmer, sunny weather is here. 

As I walk I occasionally pass through the scents of blooming honeydew and lavender coming from front yards. There are more colours in all of the plants and that has attracted more bees. There are more people on the streets. There’s more energy in and around me. 

I’ve been taking regular walks through the neighbourhood over the last six months due to the Melbourne lockdowns. At first I liked the variety of exploring different streets, but lately I’ve been sticking to an established path that takes me past parts of the neighbourhood I find most interesting. I’ve realised not just in my walks but other aspects of my life, that I have routines and well-worn paths not because I’m afraid of exploring or being uncomfortable, but because I know what I like and where I want to be. 

In front of a house being built, so far not much more than a wooden skeleton, is a ‘silver princess’ gum tree. The tree stands out because everything else in the front yard has been removed or flattened. The owners of the property have gone to lengths to preserve it. 

Its bark is stark white and its branches are adorned with the pink and yellow bulbs of new gumnuts. Many have already opened into fierce gum flowers, but I spot a bunch that are caught in the action of breaking. I can see the stamens growing thick inside and shoving at the shell, urging it to set them free. This is a slow process, but it will end suddenly when the pressure becomes too much and it bursts open, the new flower reaching out as far and wide as it can with magenta and gold. 

Gumnuts cracking open
Oil on canvas. 30cm x 40cm.

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