Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Fiesta of Birds

It was almost incredible. I couldn't stop smiling. A chase between the Brahminy Kite, Ravens and Currawongs. They swooped low across the river, up and down, then coasted along the river bank, into the treetops, around and back again as if dancing. Close they came. Sometimes it looked as if the Kite was chasing the smaller birds; sometimes it looked the other way around. The currawong sang as it flew. Was the Kite on guard and protecting its homeplace from marauding flyers? Or was it a question of territory? Either way it was an honour to see such a rare site. It was awesome, beautiful, and a privilege just to stand and watch.

My friend Amy Lenzo who produces the Beauty Dialogues blog wrote recently about a phenonomen called Stendhalism. This is the feeling of awe in the presence of beauty. She writes:

'It was named for the French poet Stendhal because purportedly he was so dazed he could barely walk while admiring the beauty of Santa Croce (apparently he wrote eloquently on the subject in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio).

'Much of our language around beauty references this beguiling aspect of her nature... she's 'dazzling', 'stunning'; we're 'mesmerized', 'astounded', 'dazed' and 'amazed' when we look into the open center of her mystery...

'Sometimes I think this sense of awe, or internal 'opening' as I experience it, is close to the very essence of beauty, of what makes something beautiful. But what is it that triggers a blow-out of the senses and an inability to contain that much pleasure, that much beauty?'

The river valley spreads its beauty along the watery flow snaking its way from mountain to sea. I gasped with joy at the beauty of the birds' dance, the majesty of the Kite, the glorious song of the currawong, the speed of the raven and more. All around the river the other birds seemed indifferent to the action above. Butcherbirds. Wille Wagtails. Tiny birds flitting through the undergrowth. And more.

Earlier as I stepped into this wonderland I saw a smallish turquoise jewell in the trees. A kingfisher. My first on this river. It was a day of discovery and a real feast of colour. And there was still more to come.

King parrots dashed past the branches showing off their bright red and green feathers. Higher overhead a flock of cockatoos shrieked laughingly as if relishing the day; I relished it too. I looked up continually there was so much to see. Pink and grey galahs settled onto their high treetop homesteads, bobbing in and out of their tree hollow nesting places. Grey teal ducks swam on the glassy water. Even the wind was quiet.

Then the tranquility of the place was shattered by two jet skis mashing the mirrored liquid into waves that spread across the river. Brrrgggmmmm Brrrrrrggggmmm Brrrrggggmmmmm....

And then they were gone.