Scarlet Robin in the mountains

I’m hiking over a scenic mountainside on a clear, crisp summer morning, and everything is perfectly relaxing: the grassy plains with occasional patches of small but bright alpine flowers; the countless, radiant white snow gums that have been bent and twisted by heavy snow dumped on them every winter; and the views of the valleys that flow between the mountains. My mind goes blank as I walk and take it in. 

The dominant colours are the greens in the grasses and leaves, whites in the bark of the eucalypts and the blue of the sky. Occasionally these are broken up by yellows and pinks of flowers. I think it’s these flowers that are adding the subtle sweetness to the air.  

A tiny but fierce flash of red takes my attention. It’s the breast of a scarlet robin. The bird, fifteen centimetres tall, is leaping between branches thirty meters away, perching for only a few seconds at a time as if something could dive down from the sky at any moment to try and take it (which may be true if eagles patrol the skies here). Among the surroundings, its red feathers stand out as bright and obvious as headlights on a dark road. 

I watch it for some time as I walk. I realise that despite all the beauty around me, all it took was a splash of unique colour to cut through and captivate me. It is another reminder that something small and silent can be beautiful and mesmerising if it is different from everything around it. 

Scarlet robin in the mountains. Oil on canvas. 50cm x 40cm.

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