In the sixties, Crispian St Peters sang, ‘When I woke up this morning, you were on my mind.’ Well, when I woke up this morning a drive to the place of my childhood was on my mind. Despite the inclement weather, I set forth with too eager young children to drive about an hour up into the hills to seek out the birds of the forest.
We stopped on the way to buy some parrot seed. Later we drove past my childhood home and school. I pointed out places where I went fishing as a boy, and the picnic grounds beside the Sassafras Creek where we enjoyed family outings. The children played the game and asked polite questions. I pointed out the sporting fields where I spent hours kicking a football and playing cricket. I drew attention to the tracks through the forest where I used to run. They were keen to know what animals I saw.
All this time the rain persisted so I suggested to the children that we take a diversion and stop for a break at the legendary Kallista Tea Rooms. The children enjoyed hot chocolate while I revived on a welcome coffee. We sat at a table with a window view of sulphur crested cockatoos, blue wrens and crimson rosellas which obligingly came to nestle in the branches of the trees adjacent to the window. More delights in the form of freshly baked scones with jam and cream duly arrived at our table and the conversation slowed as we savoured these tasty pleasures.
The rain had slowed by now, so we returned to forest armed with the parrot seed. The forest is shrouded in fog and oozes moisture from the continuous winter rain we have been experiencing. The sky is a heavy, grey blanket. The leaves of massive eucalypts hang limply as water slips and drips from their shiny surfaces. The ground under our feet squelches. The surrounding air is dank and heavy. We are dwarfed by giants in this ancient place.
The children burst from the car and in the process hurried me out as well. We were greeted by the immediate beauty of the somewhat nervous crimson rosellas. Their vivid blues and red feathers made a strong statement against the forest backdrop. They wandered about on the forest floor, searching for seeds. Within no time, they were eating seed from the children’s hands.
Then the hideous screeching of a large flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos announced that they had descended from distant trees and burst upon the scene. They seemed to be everywhere- on tables, in trees, clinging to our arms, on our shoulders. Their manners were appalling. They demanded food. They demanded attention. The rosellas were pushed aside in the raucous rush of the big white birds for the precious seed. All the time, the children doled out the seed and I made the most of this wonderful experience with my camera. By now, all the seed was scattered. The children however, were full of the joy that comes with experiencing simple pleasures. I thought how fortunate we are to have such abundant bird life to witness in the wild. It should not be taken for granted.
It began to rain again, so we returned to the car and prepared to journey home for lunch. ‘That was so much fun.’ I hear from the back seat. Those simple words made the entire morning so worthwhile. ‘Next time, we’ll look for lyrebirds, right Papa?’
This place holds special memories for me in so many ways. I lived here from the age of ten, until I moved away from home when I got married. It was a joy to share a small part of this memory rich place with another generation.