October 9, 2020.

Aside from the company of our children, grandchildren and close friends, one of the things I have wished for during these lockdowns has been the freedom to travel to places where the natural beauty of the creation is easier to appreciate than from the inside of the walls of one’s house. Don’t get me wrong-one’s home is a great treasure and a refuge- but there is something of the face of God that can be seen in the exploding sunrise of a north Queensland morning, the waves of Bass Strait roaring and crashing over the rocks at Phillip Island, or the ever-changing glow of Uluru in the rays of the setting sun, which I have missed during lockdown, particularly this latest one, over winter, which is the time that Jackie and I, in retirement, have often done our travelling around much of Australia.

The novelist James Michener once said that most Westerners would be driven insane by the sameness of each day on a tropical island, unless they could adapt to recognising the small and subtle changes that occur with the seasons, the tides and sunrise and sunset. In lockdown this spring I have noticed something similar. I have been forced to become more aware of the gorgeous blossom sprouting from the fruit trees and of the constant hum of the bees busy collecting pollen to fertilise the flowers to produce the fruit, and sipping flower nectar, which, in another miracle, is converted into honey in their tiny stomachs. And the sweetness of the perfume spread about the whole yard by such vines as the jasmine, is quite giddying.

Another group not so easily overlooked during lockdown is the birds. Doves and blackbirds have already built their first nests of the season and are each day calling to their mates- the doves cooing to one another in the mornings and the male blackbird singing his heart out every evening.
These simple consolations are to be greatly treasured in such a time as this, for in the midst of our trials and tribulations, they provide us with hope, a virtue too often absent in society today.

Michael Long

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