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A Little Banksia Ode by Rikki Anne

It wasn't long before we found ourselves nestled in the shelter of three sister banksia trees. A dream, or a seed of an idea, tossed around clumsily like the prickly banksia cones themselves, until one day the car was packed and the people were good-byed and then it was just us, choosing, with hopeful hearts, the site of our month-long camp.

A tent in a grove of three - me, Mahli, and the tree. How gentle, how subtle, did our relationship bud and flower - and nourish self and other - that it wasn't til today, gathering fallen banksia serrata branches from near home to make native smudge sticks, that I realised I had fallen in love.

That her ever-present strength and generousity during that month in the bush had meant so much, was both moving and palpable as I lay out the day's harvest. Those nights by the fire when she silently listened to our stories, the light of the moon trickling through the branches. The love and joy she witnessed, the breakthroughs - as well as the pain and the tears. In truth, she heard everything, and we invited her in.

The first thing I did after setting up camp was create an alter at the base of her trunk and the first voice of the forest I heard was hers, seeming to complain about the pressure of being stretched in too many ways by our multiple ropes supporting multiple functions. (A sigh of relief from all when we unbound her.) Mother banksia gave us many gifts...

Each morning, with damp, cold feet, gathering a cone or two from the mat of leaves and debris at her base, to maybe catch an ember from the last night's fire. Her discarded seed pods the most fruitful womb from which to blow morning sustenance into life.

Falling into afternoon daydreams, her winter nectar invited wattle birds into our nest. My thoughts punctuated by the shrill calls of "waa! why!!" And night after night her dark sillouette catching the flicker of the fire.

I wonder at the magical emergence of relationships. That one day I might look into my heart and see a tree (or a human), who I've known in many ways over time, whose existence has become so layered and tenderly nuanced with story and intimate co-creation, that the fibres of my pulsing and shifting being are woven also into its subtle remembrance. That just by calling her into life in my memory, I call in parts of myself. The gentle banksia, me, and my love, and the month we spent in nature... I hope to share more stories from the bush soon. :)

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