Buried Treasure

A lone leaf flutters

to the ground.

Capturing the golden glow

as it tumbles, gracefully.

The final dance.

How many dawns and twilights 

have you witnessed?

Quivering as the wind

ran rough fingers over your

smooth skin.

Glistening, cradling droplets

of morning dew between 

your delicate veins.

Was I the only audience to your

beautiful demise?

Or did your friends

rustle in mournful array,

as you began your 

ultimate descent?

Your last moments a 

colourful, breathtaking

crescendo.

I cannot recall where I stole the idea from – only that it wasn’t mine to begin with – but I have discovered something amazing. There are treasures hidden in the most unexpected places.

It was a stunning, Spring day in the middle of Winter. I loaded all the kids into the car and we wound our way through shadowed roads and sun-kissed fields to Healesville Sanctuary. Apart from Ivy cracking it a fair portion of the way, we made it without incident.

The wonder in their eyes was well worth the trip. Each animal and exhibit unleashed a wild sense of enthusiasm and amazement. They perched on trees, mimicking the sleeping koalas and listened to the origins story over and over. ‘Stick together!’ I would call out relentlessly, as bodies overcome with enthusiasm couldn’t help but dash ahead.

I’m not naturally an adventurer. Apart from resigning myself to the unavoidable reality that getting out of the house with the kids is a necessary step to avoid going insane, it certainly isn’t my first picture of the day. Inertia sets in and the thought of repeatedly barking out orders to get shoes and coats on seems insurmountable. Yet I’m starting to realise that these risks and gambles pay off handsomely – in happy memories, delighted children and vivid photographs.

We discovered an interactive space in the Animal Hospital that offered veterinarian coats, stethoscopes, protective glasses, bandages, syringes and plush animals to experiment on. The kids descended deep into a world where they were the helpers (“like Aunty Loren” – who happens to be a real life Vet), Eli somberly declaring that he wasn’t sure how much longer the snake’s heart was going to keep beating, looking down to the side as he mourned the complex medical situation. He wrapped the snake in blankets, performed a scan or two and enthusiastically declared that the snake was cured. Hudson found the back half of a real car in an exhibit and spent much of the time transferring medical supplies to the boot. Ivy performed the ministry of cuddles to all the poor patients.

Moments like these are such a gift. I was taken back to my own childhood visits to the Do-Zoos in America, where you become immersed in another world and become a postwoman, a mechanic, a doctor. The complexities and mundane overlay of the real world experiences of these professions are suspended and there is only the sense of wonder and expectation that you are doing something helpful.

As for the treasure, I have discovered that every day there is an unexpected, beautiful incident to be witnessed – it may be a shimmering rainbow stretching all the way to the sodden earth, a cloud in the smooth shape of a leaping dolphin, or a glittering lone leaf catching all the warmth and ecstasy of the sunlight as it tumbles gracefully to the ground. Gifts of the universe. All that we have to do is just notice, keeping our eyes wide open to the beauty that surrounds us.

“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.”

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

For a fascinating look into the science of mindfulness, check out this podcast with Ellen Langer at On Being

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