Eucalypts – the Phoenix Trees

February 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature | 5 Comments
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It is wonderful how species adapt to local conditions as they change over time.

Australia, the driest continent, was not always that way. It was once a tropical paradise (with volcanoes and the rest of the earth-building) when it separated from Gondwanaland. Over many millions of years, as the land mass moved to its current position relative to the rest of what had been a super-continent, conditions changed. It had been aeons since there had been the inland sea that the early European explorers expected to see.

Present-day Australia is a mixture of tropical rainforests in the northern coastal regions, temperate rainforests in the eastern and southern regions, dry forests inland, and deserts in the huge Red Centre. The climate is one of extremes. The Australian poet Dorothea McKellar wrote of her love for this land in the poem My Country. In it are these descriptive lines:

… a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains…

When there has been no rain for months, the countryside becomes dry. The greatest fear then is of fire. And when it comes, it is truly ferocious.

Fire Flinders Ranges Feb.2014

Fire Flinders Ranges Feb.2014

Nords Wharf fire

Nords Wharf fire

On Sunday, we drove through part of the large area of bushland that was burnt out only four months ago, during the widespread fire emergency in New South Wales.

We found that many of the trees, mostly eucalypts, that were burned in the fire have sprouted new growth.

New growth sprouts from a badly burned eucalypt.

New growth sprouts from a badly burned eucalypt.

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Even young saplings are recovering, though quite a few succumbed to the intensity of the flames. Soon though, new seedlings will emerge.

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Eucalypts are an integral part of the Australian bush (‘the bush’ covers a multitude of meanings in Australia, but here I am using the meaning ‘forest’), Although the volatile oil in their leaves is very flammable, making the bush subject to frequent fire episodes, most species are able to recover from the effects of fire.

That is because their seeds are protected inside woody nodules, and also because many species are able to regrow from nodules under the bark after all foliage and even much of the bark has been burned off.

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The bush regenerates after the fires.

Eucalypts, each a little miracle – a phoenix growing from the ashes.

 

(c) Linda Visman

 

Stories Don’t End Where the Book Does

February 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Reading, Writing and Life | 13 Comments
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There's no real ending

Have you ever finished a short story or a novel and couldn’t get the characters out of your head?

Have you imagined what might have happened after the story finished?

With a good story and well-realised characters, I think it happens quite often. I know it has to me.

I suppose that is why there is so much fan fiction written, and why readers love book series.

They don’t want to lose those characters, that world, that reality created by the author. They want the story to go on.

 

Harry Potter books

Think Harry Potter. To many of her readers, J.K. Rowlings’ imaginary character has become just as real as their own family and friends. He is someone they may know even better than those real people. It just happens that Harry, together with his own friends and foes, lives somewhere else.

They dwell in a different reality. It is a reality that has a door from our own that we can enter at will, or which can spill for a time into our own reality through the magic key of reading.

Why do some characters and their worlds become so real, when others do not? Why do we want to stay with some when we can’t even get to know others – or want to?

That to me is another magic. The magic created by a sensitive, observant and creative writer. Such writers do not necessarily create great works of literature (as defined by high-brow literary critics).

What they do create are real worlds occupied by real people, with real feelings and desires, hopes and dreams, challenges and triumphs. Characters with whom the reader develops empathy, a feeling of one-ness.

It’s no wonder we don’t want to leave the book – in a way it is our own life we have been reading, or that of people we have become close to. We want to know more.

Book hug

 

Do you ever identify with or become close to characters in the books you read?

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