After my time at the amazing Porcupine Gorge, I returned for another week at Wallaman Gorge… quieter, simpler, less hiking, more about spending time with the nearby animals. I also spent long hours sitting beside and exploring the giant thundering falls.
Of the animals, there was the ever-vigilant lace monitor, the feisty foot-thumping pademelon, the turtles, and the ubiquitous brush turkeys.
By week’s end, the young lace monitor was no longer rocketing away. He was, instead, showing his pointy face much more readily, and coming in a little closer. The pademelon was also more relaxed, bolder, and “friendlier”, but always exceedingly annoyed by the biting March flies!
I wasn’t offering food or trying to make physical contact. By sitting quietly in the same place each time and day, I was simply allowing the possibilities of connection to open up, while observing and letting the animals do any of the reaching out that was going to be done – I was in their home and living around them, and doing so by their rules as much as possible. Engaging in this way serves my practice of self-understanding, as well as a deepening awareness of the living beings and rhythms around me. I am also mindful that none of these animals should be “tamed” and in any way sullied by human contact. Their integrity must remain intact and free. So, I take things only so far, and never further. The possible benefit to them is that they get to see and experience, at least for a time, one human being in a different and more positive light, broadening their world-view a little, just as mine broadens with every interaction I have with them.
Wallaman Falls’ Stoney Creek had flooded during my days away at Porcupine, and the turtles had moved about, changing places, so I only saw new faces. I did connect well with one of the “new” turtles in a daily two-way interaction of following each other along the creek edge – a slow-dance of moving, inviting, watching, waiting, connecting. Like the lace-monitor, turtles are super sensitive and intelligent.
The group of brush turkeys wandered constantly around, coming and going, chasing each other, scratching up worms and insects. They were always on the ground, and so we sort of interacted like pedestrians on a city street. I seldom saw them in the trees. But, on my final morning, all five gathered in the two trees surrounding my car, grunting and flapping, perhaps collectively sending me off! 🙂
Brush turkeys are very interesting birds. They never have parents, yet within their culture is an intricate, largely respectful understanding of connections, friendships, intimacies, and boundaries. The males build big leaf and dirt mounds into which the females deliver fertile eggs. As the eggs incubate, the male tends to them, regulating the temperature of the large mound. And when the eggs hatch, and the baby chicks crawl out from the mound, they are on their own, to live their lives supposedly free of oedipal issues with parents and siblings! Perhaps, like indigenous human cultures, they regard their true mother and father as only the mound and the forest, where their entire lives reside, and without which they cannot.