The Wattle

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The wattles are back and blooming on our bushland block. Although the wattle can apparently bloom at any time of the year, its blossoms are usually associated with the coming of spring.

The wattle blossoms in our back yard have definitely arrived earlier than last year. The fires of 2001 savagely destroyed most of the bushland behind our home. Although all of the wattles on our block disappeared, they have quietly fought their way back through the regeneration of their seeds. Since the fires, the long periods of dry weather obviously slowed their return. It is great to see that they are again establishing themselves in abundance and in a variety of types. The subtle, unique fragrance of the wattle blossom definitely invigorates the soul.

The golden wattle is Australia’s national floral emblem. The many different varieties of wattle have inspired many a poet to wax lyrical. I have been reading John Mathew’s 1902 collection of poems entitled Australian Echoes. He included a poem on the wattle. For him, their springtime arrival inspired not only hope and happiness but brought a welcome beauty to the landscape.

“Thy downy pellets bursting out
Begirt with filigree,
With golden velvet wrap about
And glorify the tree.”

(Now why does the second line of this verse remind me of our national anthem? Oh, yes … “girt by sea”!)

Around thirty years ago I wrote a song about the wattle. During the years I was teaching, I often taught it to my students with the coming of the warmer months.
When I work in my garden I often find myself singing it.

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MAGPIE AT LAKE BOLAC

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Voice of the morning
You bounced from the grass
And once on the table
Your marble eye cast
Over our picnic,
As if to say:
“I’ve come dressed to dine
So let’s not delay!”

Black and white bird
With a shimmer of green
Such confident gatecrashing
I haven’t seen.
Your throaty vocal
Warbles away:
“I said, let’s eat without delay!”

So you joined us for lunch
And we ate very well
You praised with your thanks:
“The meal was just swell.”
Perhaps we shall see you<
One of these days
Continued success
With your gatecrashing ways.

© Jim Low

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