“The breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.” ― Kahlil Gibran
A strong north-easterly wind was blowing when I headed up to the forest, curious to find out how it would feel to be among the trees, as the wild wind coursed through them. I found a place to sit, and felt the earth beneath me, warm to the touch where the long arms of the sun had reached.
All around me, Blackwood trees rose steadily up to the sky, and occasionally, the thick, rough trunk of a Messmate could be seen among them. The wind was rising and falling in a great crescendo upstairs in the tree-canopy, as though a giant was breathing outwards in a monumentally long and unwavering breath. I pictured its’ face, big and round, with a furrowed brow and two rosy cheeks, like the character Moonface, in Enid Blyton’s children’s classic, The Magic Faraway Tree.
Branches were flailing wildly in all directions, and leaves were thrashing together like paper streamers, glinting green and silver in the sunlight. As the trees heaved and swayed, and creaked and groaned, light tumbled through the branches and onto the forest floor in a kaleidoscope of intricate patterns. And all around, the swishing of leaves with a hundred different textures filled the empty spaces in the forest with a restless energy, which seemed to charge the very air that I was breathing.
I could hear the wind in the distance, building up momentum from behind the ridge-line, and imagined I could see it as a whirling mass of current, surging through the trees on route towards me, a solitary human, crèched in the heart of the forest.
I sat there awhile, soaking it all up, and guessing the moments that the wind would stop between bursts, to create temporary hollows of stillness. Occasionally I could hear the sounds of bird-call, both amplified and muted, depending on which way the wind was blowing when it reached my ears. A brave Grey Fantail clung tenaciously to a tree branch, and look at me, its’ tiny eyes wide with curiosity.
Eventually, I left the thickly treed forest and headed out into the open, skirting the side of a small valley where the wind was now roaring up from the north-east. It was open here, the sky naked and blue with no cloud cover at all. I felt exposed here, to the heat and the wind, and in front of me, centrifugal currents of air created small eddies on the track, throwing dirt into my face and eyes.
I began to get hot, and I could feel a flush spreading across my cheeks, while sweat began to trickle down my back along the line of my pack. My mouth was dry despite my having plenty of water, and my nose and eyes began to itch from all the pollen in the air. Globules of Wattle-flowers were surfing the winds’ currents, rising and falling erratically all around me. Occasionally, small twigs catapulted through the air, landing with an unexpected ping on the track in front of me.
Above me, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo screeched in protest as it was pummelled by the gusting wind, its’ flight-path thrown into disarray. The whole forest seemed to be in upheaval as the wind took delight in the chaos it was causing. It was wild and elemental in a way that only the forces of nature could contrive, but though I was in the midst of it all, I felt somewhat estranged.
The ferocity of the wind had changed the forest to the extent that I was no longer familiar with it. The forces of Nature had lent new expression to the landscape, as though reminding me who, exactly, was in control. In its’ very act of upheaving the placidity of the forest, Nature was delivering the powerful message that as humans, we are only bystanders in its path. Despite our relentless pursuit to tame all aspects of the landscape, to ‘humanise’ it and control it, it will forever remain beyond our capacity to tame the wild, elemental aspect of Nature. And that, in itself, was hugely comforting to me.