“Firelight: the quiet heart of a little room
Where the lamp burns low and the shadows hover,
Out of the night are we come, where the gathered gloom
Hangs softly now that the wild hill rain is over,
And all that moves – a star or two – moves slowly;
Great clouds plod to the slouch of the wind their drover.

In from the great processional of space,
From the tramp of stars in their careless crossing
Of gulf on infinite gulf, from the foaming race
Where the wind caught at the corries, and the old tossing
Of the fire-tormented rock in the ridge of mountains
Seemed to awake anew in the clouds’ new tossing –

In from the cold blown dark : from flame to flame –
From the hidden flame of cosmic motion
That roars through all the worlds and will not tame,
Driving the stars on the crest of its own commotion,
To the little leaping flame that our hands kindled:
In, as the boats come in from the width of the ocean.

Narrow the room is, shut from infinities,
Only the new-lit fire is keeping
Hint of the ancient fire ere the first of days.
And we three talk awhile to the spell of its leaping,
And are silent awhile and talk again and are silent;
And an older fire than the hearth-fire wakes from sleeping –

The fire that smouldering deep in the heart of man
Lies unfelt and forgotten under
Our surface ways, till a swift wind rise and fan
The covered heat to a blaze that snaps asunder
The strange restraints of life for a soaring moment;
And we lift unquiet eyes and stare in wonder

At the infinite reaches the tottering flames reveal,
Watching the high defences crumble
And the walls of our self-seclusion gape and reel,
Till with heart-beat loud as a toppling rampart’s grumble
Out from our comforting selves to the ungirt spaces
One with we know not what of desire, we stumble. “

Fires, by Nan Shepherd

Our Fragile Earth.   From the shores of illimitable space it came.   From where and when we know not, but we call it home.

Our Fragile Earth. One thing is certain : it sustains life.   In itself it lives.   All is according to a remarkable order and all of life is part of an integrated and sustaining whole .   Disturb any part of it and you disturb the whole. According to that order of creation, any imbalances which man creates will have far-reaching consequences. As long as there is harmony, there will be stability. Mankind, however, is unable to live in harmony, as part of a stable environment; unable to live as part of the existing order, in balance with our fragile earth. Man seeks dominance, He is arrogant and ruthlessly self-centred. Greed and self-interest now rule our world.   As I wrote in my book, “A Night on a Mountain”   “ The great web of creation which supports life on this beautiful planet of ours is finely balanced and interconnected. The more we damage it and the more we diminish or develop our wilderness areas, the more we diminish our own survival on earth”.

Today, we may congratulate ourselves on creating national parks, on preserving areas of wilderness, but how long will it be before protected areas disappear?   Which will be more important?   Long term liveability or land for housing, infrastructure, industry, and agriculture?   Even now, national parks and wilderness areas are not seen as essential to life on earth but rather as resources for people, as playgrounds, or as revenue raisers for governments. When will governments react to climate change, and to the need to limit growth? When will governments move mankind back into harmony with the world which keeps us alive and sane?

I love vast spaces, mountains, distant views washed by sun and chased by cloud shadows, but it sometimes seems to me that rainforests epitomise the biosphere of our fragile world. Beneath Tall Trees is where I can clearly see nature’s balance.   Here, the sustainability of life on earth, the cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth, is clearly evident .. If I was writing about a person and not a forest I would call it a biography.

Not far from where I live in Canberra, Australia, there are some beautiful forests, including temperate rain forest. It is in such forests that one sees the day to day business of live things living. I find this so interesting. Here one sees the remarkable and continual accomplishment of live things growing. Everywhere here, life is beginning where life has ended. Think of the unknown anticipation of a mushroom poking its smooth, slippery parasol through the thick black soil of a million years. This is the start of the story. Here there are many starts, many beginnings..

One walks here in a primeval world, over a 6 inch layer of humus, under 3 and 4 metre high tree ferns which themselves are beneath tall trees. The light is filtered, green. Crystal clear streams flow through a brown and green, often tangled, world of growth .   Shafts of sunlight cross the rich, dark brown forest floor , falling on moss or lichen, to create vivid green pools of luminosity. Fungi and lichens grow on the remains of dead, fallen trees and old, dead trunks, while epiphytes reach for the light and vines grow into amazing shapes. Stinging trees and lawyer vines are traps for the unwary.   Here, in these hushed and beautiful places we have life, shape, form and colour.     But the world in predatory silence descends, removes all shape and releases all form to live again. It may be said that the only Being must live to say “I am”.

All is in harmony and balance since the beginning of time. And Life. Being.   But will man destroy it?

Oh burnie with the glass-white shiver,
Singing over stone,
So quick, so clear, a hundred year
Singing one song alone,
From crystal sources fed forever,
From cold mountain springs,
To o’erpersuade the haunted ear
It new-creates the tune it sings.

Singing Burn – Nan Shepherd

Clathrus archer

fungus Clathrus archeri

slime moulds

Slime Moulds

slime moulds

Slime moulds


A beautiful, but tiny. blue fungus

Grevillea victoriae

A Grevillea sp. growing on the fringe of rain

Also on rain forest fringes

 Billardiera scandens                          Orchid – Gastrodia sesamoides              
Hairy Appleberry – beneath                            Potato Orchid
tall trees

Cryptandra ericoides

Utricularia sp Fairy aprons

Epacris sp

Corea sp

scaevola ramosissima Purple Fan-flower Sugar Loaf

scaevola ramosissima Purple Fan-flower


Telopea sp

Ceratopetalum apetalum Coachwood

Ceratopetalum apetalum,  Coachwood
from the tall canopy

an orchid

More orchids

Orchid Dockrillia teretifolia

Orchid Dockrillia teretifolia

Orchid Dockrillia teretifolia

Crinum sp  (Lily)

Tripladenia cunninghamii


Beneath tall trees and 4-5 metre high tree ferns






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