Bark, Bark

I have heard it said that in distant lands far across the water, there are strange trees that drop their leaves in Autumn. Why a tree would want to do that completely escapes me.

In Australia, the trees are far more sensible. They keep their leaves, and shed their bark in spring and summer, the way humans shed layers of clothes – to allow themselves to deal with the heat.

A few moments ago I was just speaking to a friend of mine who lives in the Eucla, and she told me that even though it is past the Summer Solstice, the salmon gums are still shedding there. And I remembered driving between Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun for work every day before/during dawn, watching the casuarinas and the salmon-gums by the side of the road as I passed, the casuarinas a mysterious grey and the salmon gums the brightest, most lively of pinks under their splitting and shedding dull-red bark.

And I remember the smell of the dust in my nostrils in summer, and the putrid stench of the canola flowers in the winter. There are people that call that kind of country “empty”. I prefer “uncluttered”. It is a wealthy land, a land of detail, a land where you can really stretch and become a part of the country if you listen and learn.

When you think about it, a tree that peels its trunk before the heat sets in is more sensible than a tree that drops its canopy just when it might appreciate some shelter. Give me the shedding bark of the Eucla salmon-gums any day.

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