I’m riding my mountain bike beside a suburban train line in northern Melbourne. My purpose for getting on my bike today was purely for exercising my body and mind. I’ve been to the Yarra River and stopped by a section of fast-flowing water to feel the cool, moist air on my skin and to listen to the noises of birds and insects enjoying a healthy, active area of nature. Now, on my way home, I’m riding leisurely beside parks, cricket ovals, trees, and up ahead is the Melbourne Zoo.
I pull over because I’ve arrived at a public garden bed. It’s caught my attention because somebody has gone to a lot of effort to create this small garden and to choose unusual Australian plants that aren’t growing anywhere else nearby. Wooden palings have been placed on the ground to cordon it off from the rest of the trees and shrubs in the park, as if they wanted to see if these plants will fit in before letting them loose. Maybe a local school set it up to give students something to study.
I notice a young eucalypt tree with gumnuts that have stamen in shades of gold and yellow that I don’t often see. The insides of the nuts look firm and have a shiny finish almost like the surface of a granny-smith apple. In the centre of each one stands a long, curly stem.
Some of the gumnuts are bright with thick tufts of stamen while others have had their flowers plucked and are in a later stage of their life cycle. All will go through the same stages and are beautiful in different ways during each one, though the timing is different for all of them.
I focus on two. One is brighter and most would consider it the more beautiful one as it has more colour and energy. Right now, at a time when this peculiar year is ending and I know there will be a whole new beginning next year, I relate more to the second one that has less vibrance but more experience.