Being Authentic Is Hard Work

It’s official, ladies and gentlemen, I am now a landcarer. I join over 100,000 volunteers across Australia working on landcare projects that are focused on sustainable land management practices and environmental conservation. I’m also a newbie Canberra nature mapper. Better late than never, I guess. Over the last six months, I’ve teamed up with some of my neighbours to form a registered group to look after our community park. It is lucky that we had our own resident ecologist because, with his assistance, we identified something that needed protection. Even our ecologist was surprised.

My family has known for years that areas of the park had some lovely native grass – spear grasses (Austrostipa sp.) and kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) – as well as some native grassland plants, clinging to the edges, or under, trees. We also had an inkling that if the native grasses were allowed to grow rather than be mown, they might out compete some of the weedy, exotic grasses. But who would believe us? Nothing to see here, right?

When the drought broke, the resident ecologist discovered more and more native woodland and grassland plants at the park, and I started to incorporate these plants into my verge garden. My neighbour had also seen many interesting looking plants popping up down the park and she talked to me about starting a park care group. So our little adventure began and soon we were joined on this journey by some other enthusiastic neighbours. We embarked on months of self-initiated environmental assessments, community engagement and government liaison.

It is fair to say that not everyone is on the same page. Myths of snakes in long grass, experience of devastating bushfires and differences in aesthetics, beget many different reactions. I certainly get it because that was me. Of course, I am “passionate” about conservation, as was pointed out to me, but it is knowledge, not passion, that motivates me, ladies and gentlemen. As a team, we did our homework (ie. the biodiversity surveys, etc) and the park woodland did the rest.

And the result? A small patch of the park has now been officially recognised as critically endangered box-gum grassy woodland. This is both horrifying and exciting. It is horrifying because there is so little box-gum grassy woodland left in eastern Australia due to urban development and unsympathetic agricultural practices. It is exciting because we now have the chance to work together – both government and local landcare volunteers – to ensure that this precious ecological community is cared for appropriately. Well, that’s my view anyway. I can’t speak for the government or the broader community.

So we’ve planted a few plants, not many, to shelter the small birds. We have also been weeding, weeding, weeding. It’s been wet so there are many weeds. Weeding has been a learning exercise in itself because we are no experts on what is and isn’t a weed. Thankfully there are a lot of resources, including the resident ecologist, to help us make those distinctions.

I haven’t had time to swan around taking photos. I tried to combine my photography and land care interests at one point but I ended up leaving my camera in the grass when I got distracted by some weeds. Don’t worry, it was still there when I realised my error. I do, however, encourage swanning around with a camera because images (plus the expert narrative that goes along with them) tell a story and the story can lead to understanding, and understanding can lead to action. So I haven’t completely given up.

Because the conservation patch is a grassy woodland, it has delivered, once left unmown, an outpouring of beautiful native grasses the likes of which I have never seen in our park. Let me show you.

Like the rest of Australia, Canberra has a growing multicultural population. Although my ancestors arrived here in 18th century, I include myself in that multicultural group. This multiculturalism extends to our weeds, gardens and pastures. Our nature reserves, and the indigenous species that depend on them, cannot withstand the onslaught of these “threatening processes” unless we do nature differently.

Exotic wild oats, St John’s Wort and Yorkshire Fog grass in Kama Nature Reserve

I’ve got lots of ideas about “ecologically sustainable development” and probably not very original ones. Improved community education about environmental conservation needs to reflect where we are as a community, so tailoring nature “education” to Australia’s increasingly multicultural population, through programs and materials in languages other than English, could be really helpful. I would also love to see even more community and government initiatives to re-wild and connect our urban green spaces. Canberrans, the latter is already happening and you can join in now. Contact Landcare or the ACT government to find out how you can get involved. The work is intellectual; it is physical; it is communal and I love it. Don’t wait until you are over 50, like me, before you get your A into G. There’s a job that suits all abilities.

In closing, I offer my best wishes to all who celebrate the coming festive season and to those of you who do not. My hope for the new year is that you too may have access to a resident ecologist and/or team up with likeminded friends to turn your dreams into reality.

Take care, everyone. Don’t be too naughty. Maybe I’ll stop for photos.

Kind Regards.
Tracy

Having A Field Day

During the week about a dozen yellow-tailed black cockatoos visited our park. They were having a field day, chewing on branches and pulling out borers. My True Love snapped these photos. One of the young ones got caught up in a branch that it was chewing and it tumbled to the ground when the branch finally gave way. The youngster was unfazed by this. Check ’em out.

Take care, everyone, and carry on.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Late Bloomer

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been waiting with bated breath for the murnong (Microseris lanceolata) on my verge to bloom. I have been waiting much longer for a closed loop insulin delivery system that adjusts my insulin dose based on real time changes in my blood glucose level. Both have finally arrived.


I have only been using the new tech for one week but already I feel that I am living life less on the edge. The tech suffers from a few technical glitches, but I can envisage a day in the near future when I can free my mind from the hundreds of decisions that normally go into the day to day management of my Type 1 diabetes. It may even change my temperament – perhaps I’ll be less cranky. Life too may offer a few more possibilities, just like this murnong seedhead.


Take care, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

For information on the revival of the Murnong see
https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2021/07/01/native-superfood-8-times-nutritious-potato-and-tastes-sweet-coconut

RDP Rest

Macro Monday

A photo and a poem about grass. Somehow it got a bit dark but it’s no metaphor.

En Garde
If I drive my finger onto your thorns,
would I fall asleep,
supine forevermore?
Or would I draw bonded blood in awe?
Nurse my pain in living thrall, paying my
dues to your magnificence.

Possibly the spectacular Lomandra longifolia, but I’m only guessing.

Kind Regards
Tracy.

Just A Little Bite

This is what a cockatoo looks like after face ploughing my new garden and snipping off those nice, new spring shoots.

And if that wasn’t enough, it thought it would eat my phone.

More please.

It’s been a long, wet winter in Canberra and yummy new shoots are yummy.

Keep well, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy

RDP Capricious
Lens-Artists Favourite Finds

Three is A Trend

I recently reported on the deaths of two of the park birds, a magpie and a cockatoo. I always keep an open mind as to the probable cause when the manner of death is uncertain but I have my suspicions. Another bird has had a close escape. Occasionally I feed the crested pigeons. I used to give them leftover canary seed so they are regular visitors. Now there is no longer a canary so I am gradually phasing out their seed because to stop abruptly would be incredibly unfair. Plus, it is winter and seed is scarce. I took a photo of one of my favourite pigeons on its most recent visit.

Something has had a go at it. Crested pigeons, cockatoos and magpies all have one thing in common. They are ground foraging birds. If I see another dead bird, I will borrow a cat trap. Having said that, my dogs are pure evil when it comes to birds (and bees) but their technique to bark birds to death is thankfully rather inept. The bees are not so lucky.

Speaking of inept, I have upgraded photography software. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it is not very intuitive so I am keeping a low profile.

Stay well, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Lens-Artists: Summer Vibes

It’s July so you know what that means. July is when the dedicated, hard-working hosts of the incredibly popular Lens-Artists Photo Challenge take a well earned break from their hosting duties and co-opt five guest hosts to take on this important responsibility. This week, Andre from My Blog – solaner is hosting the challenge and he has invited us to feel the summer vibe. It’s winter here in the Southern Hemisphere but I will try.

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The Stories They Tell

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

It’s already Saturday here and I haven’t published my Friday Song yet. Better late than never, eh? This week I could tell you about all the stupid spending that went on under the last government, and that we now have nothing “nation building” to show for it. I could also tell you how this has left the new national government in a pretty pickle having to cancel important programs that ensure people sick with Covid don’t have to go into work in order to keep a roof over their heads. Yeah, tricky. It is especially tricky when you have inherited a huge budget deficit due to a lot of expenditure that hasn’t exactly been the best value for money for the country, and now have a huge budget deficit/ big credit card bill, at the same time as interest rates are going through the roof (lotta roofs in this thought bubble). And if you are not collecting enough taxes to pay that debt down because everybody, including the rich people, must have a tax cut – and in order for prospective governing parties to win an election – then those debt levels are only going to increase, adding to the burden on existing and future taxpayers, those few that are still remaining that is (including those casual but essential workers sick with Covid), and I’m not talking about the rich people here. I could tell you about all of that, but I won’t.

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Public Menace?

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

Yesterday I was as mad as hell when workers down the road parked on my new garden. So I spent a good five minutes looking for some lipstick to write on their windscreen. But I decided against that and instead stormed down to where they were working and asked them to move their, ahem, vehicle off my, um, garden, or words to that effect. No really, I was very polite. Unfortunately, there was a fatality.

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