Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Trail is not a Trail

I have been inspired by this adventurous poem of Gary Snyder called The Trail is not a Trail. He writes:

I drove down the Freeway
And turned off at an exit
And went along a highway
Til it came to a sideroad
Drove up the sideroad
Til it turned to a dirt road
Full of bumps, and stopped.
Walked up a trail
But the trail got rough
And faded away
Out in the open,
Every where to go.

I love this poem as it gives licence for an exploration into any direction, to take any path, to journey down any road - wherever you are is called 'Here'. This is the start of the trail I take along the Brisbane River where I come face to face with what direction to choose. I walk along wondering where the trail heads. Down past the golf course with its manicured greens, along the riverbank hedged with mangroves and under the tall gum trees filled today with ravens calling the morning sunrise. King parrots flit past, their red wings flashing, while cheeky willie wagtails chirp and dance telling me to take care of their territory. This is a special trail where I find the unexpected.

A small bridge crosses a creek I later learn is called Sandy Creek. It is a mud-filled waterway whose mud is almost the colour of chocolatey charcoal. There are signs that birds have been patrolling these shores; they've left their footprints pressed deep into the muddy banks. As I watch the reflection of trees in the water, hidden amongst the tree trunks I spy remnants of fishing tackle. In the early days of colonial settlement this creek was known as a great place to fish but then and now, it is also a special place to watch birds and has been for many years.

In 1925 the government declared the area as a bird sanctuary, and watching the birds now is testament to the foresight of those city fathers and mothers over 80 years ago, especially because around the same time, the river was disregarded, almost discarded and treated as a sewer and mine site for gravel.

Thinking about this history and comparing it to the now very precious bird haven, I step back onto the trail. Out in the open, every where to go.

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Snyder G, 2000, "The Trail is Not a Trail", in F. Lynne Bachleda, Blue Mountain: A Spiritual Anthology Celebrating the Earth, Birmingham, AL, Menasha Ridge Press.