Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Banksia Wind

The banksia wind is special.

Maybe it's the other trees. Banksias aren't tall: they grow as a second-storey beneath the canopy of gum-trees or angophora. While the gums grow tall and spread their arms out to the light, the banksias are gnarled and low, bent, misshapen and tough. Other small trees bend their growth to the wind, living at an angle: banksias grow thicker to stay straight, drop branches and develop burly lumps. They're pigheaded trees, too stubborn to bend and usually too tough to break.

They sing in the wind.

First, there's the sound of the wind approaching, a susurration off to the right in the high leaves of the gum-trees. It's a wash that approaches in three-dimensional stereo: at first, a point of sound a hundred metres distant, washing towards you in the high leaves, like waves in the distance before they arrive at shore and break on the rocks.

And the swish-swish of the wind comes closer, becomes a wash that fills a whole hemisphere of the ears: a sound already unique when you stand among the gum-trees, the speech of the spirit of tall wood and rangy bark and loose leaves.

And then it's all around you. 

With an extra note: the hush and hum because the wind has arrived, and you're standing beneath the gums but among the banksias, and it's the banksias that sing while the gum-trees hiss.

The song of the banksia.

It's a song of leaves slapping against each other: argumentative? or the strike of hand-palms celebrating a momentary victory? Who knows. Then there's the violins of leaves out-of-reach of others, vibrating on their own, a million voices in a thousand keys. It's the shuddering flap of the leaves at the edge of branches, like cicadas too wet to drum. And it's the bass-notes of branches that vibrate but don't bend.

Of course it made us cry.

No comments: