Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bush pilgrimage

Way back in the hills, when the farm track runs out of paddock and veers off into pine plantation, there is some native bush I have had my eye on for a while. Yesterday I went inside. There are no human trails (at least near where I went in). The undergrowth is quite dense so it must have been fenced off from stock for a few years at least. Just in from the edge, where the light dims and dapples, there is a carpet of knee high baby nikau palms, vividly green.
Down in the leaf litter I saw numerous giant snail shells, mostly smashed (by pigs I suspect) but two were intact though empty and I brought them home. I have heard of giant native snails but never noticed them before. I'm not sure I would want to encounter a live one.... eeuuww slimey!
With no tracks to follow I meandered slowly through slight openings in the undergrowth, not so much walking through the bush as being in the bush, moving aimlessly and noticing intensely. I spent most of an hour experiencing about 50 square metres of bush containing an incredible diversity of plants. As I walked between tree trunks I was thinking about a book I am reading about 'pilgrimage' that has some resonance for me. Nonetheless I think 'retreat' is a more apt spiritual metaphor for what I am doing here since I don't have any desire to travel anywhere except deeper into these hills, more thoroughly into this bush and more mindfully into each moment.

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