Red Kamala

This will just be a brief post, as it is late and tomorrow I am getting up early to go to an anti-coal seam gas protest out at Kyogle, which is about an hour’s drive away. It’s been a long time since I was involved in ‘direct action’, so I feel a bit rusty. The nice thing about it is that I’m going to go with another local woman I don’t know all that well, but by the end of tomorrow, I have a feeling we’ll know each other a lot better. So although CSG may be causing some divisions within communities, I think we do need to honour the fact that it is also bringing us closer together than we have been before. I popped in on our local CSG-free meeting up in Dunoon this afternoon and it was very moving to see people I am familiar with speaking so tenderly and passionately about this issue and how we can deal with it. I can be quite a hermit so sometimes I think I underestimate just how much people do care for their environment. I feel very lucky and blessed to have such neighbours.

Now, one tree I have noticed coming into full fruit again at the moment is Red Kamala (Mallotus philippensis), a very common, hardy pioneer species of rainforest tree. One of the original ‘paddock’ trees on our property, now not quite as lonely as it would once have been when the land was more cleared, it is surrounded by younger regenerating trees and palms. It stands opposite my front doorstep, where I often spend time sipping tea and pondering, so it’s not easy to miss the masses of red fruit forming all over it. I love the deep, rusty red of these berries, and the way the powdery coating is like rouge – you could probably use it to blush your cheeks quite beautifully! According to Nan and Hugh Nicholson (local legends both as botanists and environmental activists, and parents of girls I went to school with) in their first book of ‘Australian Rainforest Plants’ this tree is widespread through Asia and in India the red powder is used to make a ‘golden-red dye for silk’. I often find myself idly picking the berries up and ‘drawing’ with them, as with chalk, if I am sitting out there chatting on the phone or to a visitor. Though it may be humble and common, I have a tender place in my heart for the Red Kamala, perhaps because of its humble-ness. It is a friendly tree, a familiar tree, and in its tough ability to survive and thrive in adverse conditions, it is the very symbol of resilience. I praise you, Red Kamala, for that.


10 feb 2013 003


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