I’ve been ‘home’ for a couple of weeks now and still not quite settled. Hard to tell if this is an ongoing state of ‘homelessness’ or a reaction against the cold spring and my weatherworn fell, still nowhere near green.
One of my new Sydney friends, Katie, gave me an exquisite pair of curtains she’d made, incorporating screenprints of the patterns on Scribbly Gums. I hung them at my sitting room window last week so now my view (of a landscape so unlike anything I’ve seen in the past three months I sometimes think it must all have been a dream – or this is…) is framed by a reminder of those wonderful trees on the other side of the world.
The Scribbly Gum Moth lays its eggs in the layers between the old and new bark and, when they hatch, the larvae tunnel their way along, eating the wood as they go. They loop back the way they came before falling to the ground to pupate. When the old bark drops off, their tracks are revealed, with the scribbly appearance that gives both moth and tree their name.
Native to New South Wales, the Scribbly Gum is just one of over 700 species of Eucalypt. Many of them are hard to identify but its distinctive markings make it easy to spot. The sense that something is written there – a secret, in code, some mysterious script – is tantalizing. So much of my journey seemed to involve making translations from the world of nature, reading what wasn’t written. Strange now to be back at my desk and starting a process of making translations of my own translations, tunnelling between the old and the new – even my curtains asking to be deciphered!
The cold spring falls from the stone.
I passed and heard
the mountain, palm and fern
spoken in one strange word.
The gum-tree stands by the spring.
I peeled its splitting bark
and found the written track
of a life I could not read.