Thursday, September 22, 2011

Egrets, I've had a few...

The whole time I was in Far North Queensland, the lyrics from The Go-Betweens "Cattle and Cane" kept running through my head in a loop. Coming from Brisbane, I especially loved that band because in the '80s who else sung about being in our corner of Australia?
I recall a schoolboy coming home
Through fields of cane
To a house of tin and timber
And in the sky
A rain of falling cinders
I was scared even of fireworks when I was little, yet I remember the sight of a whole cane field ablaze by the side of the road when I was on holidays seeming awesome and cool, not frightening.
The railroad takes him home
Through fields of cattle
Through fields of cane
Home. It was weird being back in Queensland, because it at once felt so normal -- as normal as the sight of my own hands and feet -- and so exotic. Trees that look like roots and vines that look like trees, not worrying all that much when it's red-bellied black snake that crosses your path because at least it isn't a brown or a taipan or a tiger snake, having to brake in the middle of a winding road for Brahman cattle that look like they just wandered off a Delhi street, and the Cattle Egrets that follow them everywhere, eating the bugs the cattle kick up in their wake.
This species is expanding everywhere in the world that land is being turned over for grazing. They came to Australia from Asia, and multiplied like crazy. Their huge numbers in Far North Queensland are a sign that the ecosystem is out of balance, that too many trees have been cut down for hamburgers -- yet even environmental mistakes can make a beautiful sight. The egrets fly in great numbers down the Daintree River each night to roost. I can't blame them. When I think of true stillness and peace, I think of the Daintree River. (Well, I think of those things and giant crocodiles.)

No comments:

Post a Comment