Monday, December 13, 2010

Tree Wind Fish

 When the gums flare their danger red in Western Australia, salmon fly in feeding swathes through southern waters.
(Eucalyptus ... or perhaps these days Corymbia ficifolia)

When the gums flower wedding dress white, sea mullet come to gather up the wind-strewn nights into the estuaries.
(E. fasciculosa)


When the Christmas Trees shine all golden and bright, the flathead swarm through the channel and into the harbours.
(Nyutsia floribunda)

This week down the markets I saw the European connection with my seasonal, piscean bondage to trees and the wind. Two new arrivals. The Asparagus Lady turned up looking to swap her trade for my black bream. And the Berry Man gave me twenty five dollars and a punnet of black berries for flathead fillets. I haven't seen either of them for eleven months. They both work out in the back country, farming. Then the Christmas Tree flowers and the flathead run ... and all the other vendors return.


  1. Nice, I will keep these images and comments for my class as I have heard the local Aboriginals talk about the white flowers and the mullet. You also pre-empted my intention of posting a pic of a Nuytsia Floribunda - they are so gorgeous this year because of the rains I think.

  2. Yes, there is a few across the road from my place and they're going off!
    I find them such an intriguing tree and I guess you know the funerary stories about them.
    I like the connection between plants and fish too.

  3. Great observations here Sarah, such intimate insights and poetry running free... Those trees are special. The ficafolia looks like fire whereas the Nuytsia is something different altogether... Who can forget them when they see them. And, your Nuytsia flower longer in Albany. When the trees in Perth are turning brown yours in the South are still fluro gold!

  4. Yes, I have heard the stories about spirits resting in the tops of these trees before they move on. They have preserved them specially at the park they are establishing near the hospital. I worked with some Aboriginal boys on a design for some artwork in that park, they have built a limesone wall around the Nuytsia and put the artwork in but I haven't seen much other activity.

  5. Yep Daisy Bates recorded that Noongar spirits attached themselves to the Moodjaa before making their journey beneath the sea to their heaven... But I cannot but wonder what influences Bates (or Daisy May O'Dwyer born in Tipperary) might have had from the Irish beliefs of Tir na Og. Sure, a great many Noongar Biboolmen may have held to these beliefs but not all. My old teacher held that the kaany or human spirit was caught and placed in the lower trunk of old trees and the spirits that inhabited that place were periodically called upon, was summoned to aid in hunting, healing and cursing... (You might want to see some of Cliff's yarns about this, See: I only wish I had begun my recording the older Noongar many years before I did... Such stories...beautiful ballads and intimate insights of country... I have missed...

  6. It is a lovely story and like you said, so much has been lost. It's an interesting parallel between Tir nan og and Aboriginal, Tim. A few locals have told me that same story and that Christmas trees should be left alone, so as not to disturb the journey of the dead. But I was also told to cut a few twigs from the tree, leave it around the house overnight and then bury them at dawn the next morning, to help bob on his way.
    Another thing that has always intrigued me is that in white culture, people are also forbidden to mess with the christmas tree - because it is protected.
    I hope you post your pictures Michelle ... the one here is a dodgey website grab and not very good.

  7. OK I will make some more effort re pics.

    Tim, I have posted a link to Cliff's stories on my blog. I will eventually get around to reading them all I hope.

    Yes I see so many natural links between the Celtic and Aboriginal mythical systems, but then there are between all systems really because they are archetypes. I think I feel a lot of what Aboriginal people talk about because I feel my own connection to land through our cultural systems and they all run parallel.