richmond birdwing butterfly

23 years ago, we are at the edge of the Kuranda Rainforest track. Outside, there is only glare and heat and damp. The morning sun bites hard and hot. The bitumen is sticky with heat. The air is so wet that I breathe heavy from the short walk from home. And the blazing song of a million million cicadas buzz, throb, and pulse around us.

Kirra and me, we carefully ease past a cascading curtain of wait-a-while, and we enter the forest.

We enter the cool and dark and quiet.

We enter the stillness of the forest.

I pause to breathe a few breaths and to be present, here.

Kirra wriggles off my hip and runs ahead.

In the heart of this forest there’s a spot where the Kuranda creek murmurs around a large flat rock, 15 steps across: 25 steps for Kirra. There are flay dry patches of rock and little pools, rivulets, and a deep crevasse where an eel may – or may not – live.

Kirra is playing in the creek, perched on the rock, writing on the water with her stick and counting taddies.

I lie on the cool cool stone to look up at the forest giants.

The giant trees, columns and canopy shade us completely: just a few slender rays of sunlight are made visible where they illuminate a leaf, a twig, or tiny floating particles of dust.

And rising between the columns, a cloud of Richmond birdwing butterflies, green stained glass, catch and reflect that sunlight as they circle and eddy slowly in a gentle updraft.

Photo of a male richmond birdwing butterfly resting on a stick, wings open.
Bob Decker. 2012. Richmond Birdwing Butterfly. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


where did wonderful go?

Myers, an Australian Department store is currently running an ad campaign that asks, ‘Where did wonderful go?’ It starts off rather poignantly, tracing the life of a child where everything is full of colour and promise to adulthood where everything has turned grey. And just when I get suckered by the pretty art work and the tantalising question  … the rot starts… Apparently wonder can be bought in Myer in the form of sparkly dresses, impossibly high heels, and overpriced baubles… sigh.

Myer, I think you missed the point.

For me and many others, wonder stopped being associated with frocks and baubles when we realised that such things are generally mass produced by folk who work impossible long hours yet don’t earn enough to feed their children. And that they are made to make store mannequins (not women) look good… and that those impossibly high heels are pretty damn uncomfortable anyway… I could go on, but instead I will return to the question…

Where did wonderful go?

Well Myer, wonderful didn’t actually go anywhere… Hop up from your computer and walk to your window – take a look outside and see a cloud drift by. Open that window, listen to the birdsong, or to conversation drifting in from the street. Lean a little out the window and wave at a passerby, and exchange a smile with a stranger, or a loved one. Even better, leave your office, or your store and talk a walk round the block. Wonder will be everywhere, even in that grey city there will be a pigeon with a pretty splash of colour, a child laughing, an old lady singing to herself, a puddle that mirrors the sky, a sunset, a star, a balcony with a little washing hanging on the breeze…

Thank you Myer for asking that question. I have very much enjoyed answering it. ❤

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