Facing fears in the Phalaris

Before I even begin this ramble I want to point out that we have a process of moving cattle to eat down the pasture beginning in Spring. We begin with the paddocks surrounding the house and shed and move outward leaving the river flats to last. It’s fire season and I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of paddocks awash with grasses a metre high. There are however swathes of phalaris that even I can get lost amongst. It’s beautiful to watch and as the above photo shows something that captures my attention enough to want to photograph, from the edge of the mown path that is, you see I have always been scared to walk amongst it, scared of the snakes that I cannot see.

So now the sheep have disappeared heading to a neighbouring property. Through the dry creek beds laden with fallen sticks, layers of mulch and bracken, feet deep and all around, with the phalaris framing the fringes. The first attempt to bring them home I lost them in the long grass before they must have turned around and headed back along the creek bed. But you see the time I spent looking at my feet to see where I was going and monitoring every stick that kicked up against the back of my legs was totally disproportionate to the time I spent observing what the sheep were actually doing, the next day I was ready to do it better.

I knew the lay of the land and had a better idea of how they were moving, I hid in the grass and instead of listening to my fear of snakes I listened for the movement of the sheep. This was really beneficial as during that time I became aware of the sounds emanating from the golden phalaris tips brushing with the wind, beautiful. This time the sheep didn’t escape my eyes or my ears because I was able to access that balanced meditative state, whereby I am relaxed yet alert to everything surrounding me. This is a fantastic means of tipping an experience on its head and enabling me to enjoy the experience and the landscape as well as new sounds and smells. (Even the low flying water bombing helicopters only induced a “far out I am so lucky to live in a country with resources like we have” rather than a “shit what if the fires spread any further” response.) I enjoyed myself enough to stop and take a photo, this time within the long grass at dusk and I am not done yet as the sheep have just disappeared again and it may be a couple more days before the fences on the other side of the farm are fixed to be Dorper proof.


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