The other morning I was in King’s Park. There was a grey sky with a warm, soft breeze passing over the heathland around me. I stood there amongst the light navy greens of the plants, studded with the vivid reds and yellows of blooming flowers. My eye took in the spiky leaf of a hakea, and then moved right and outwards to notice kangaroo paws and acacia flowers and macrozamias and other lives. I crouched down and took the time to pause and look. I remembered where I’m from. I’m from this land, this sandy, spiky, colourful and warm part of the planet. If I don’t come here to a bit of real, natural Australia at least once a week and pause and look around myself and see the ancient and constantly renewed colours and shapes of my home, then I, slowly but surely, become a deracinated and spiritually empty dupe of technologically bolstered globalization.
And who wants that?
This light, navy green ground, splashed with colour each spring, is my frame. It is part of my identity. In some ways I’m a colonial fellow, speaking English, owning a ninth edition Brittanica, a bespoken linen suit, appreciating the farming methodology of the Duke of Cornwall, drinking gin and tonic on the veranda in the heat of the southern hemisphere. But like other southern gentlemen, such as, Edward O. Wilson wandering through the forests of Alabama and northern Florida in the 1940s, I have a deep interest in understanding and loving the wilds of a new world. My cultural heritage comes from afar, but this land is my home.