Paddling upstream to where the water slows naturally through the bend in the river, my eye was drawn to this magnificent Black Bean Tree (Castanospermum australe). It was the exposed roots that drew me closer, thick and knotted, and curled to form such unusual shapes. They plunged deep down to the River and extended far outwards, gripping and stabilising the sunken riverbank. In the kayak, I am at the same level as these impressive roots, and I was in awe.
My gaze travelled up these roots to the swollen and aged trunk above with its crusty and rough textured bark. I sensed time as slow and expansive across generations. This was an old-growth Tree, what First Nations peoples call a Grandmother Tree.
My eyes drank in the knobbly protrusions of broken limbs that were rounded and smoothed by big flood events. There is a sense of playfulness in this Tree too, despite the powerful force of the Clarence in flood that gave cause for the Tree to adapt to its riparian environment. I saw the crown more battered and sparce and less flush than I previously remembered, but with the rains comes bright green growth and new beginnings.
As I am cooled by the shade and the light breeze from the River, I am thankful for the many gifts of this much maligned Tree.