Love letters: Wild cherry tree

by Bonnie Pockley


Warrumbungles – possibly 2003

I can’t remember exactly when this was. For several years it was only my father and I that went off to the Warrumbungles to visit and it was in those years that this happened. It was the same time we harnessed the second natural spring on the land, a way of creating an overflow and pool from which the animals could drink. The drought was still in full force. There was brittleness to everything and even the more drought-proof trees were starting to wilt and die. There was something deeply worrying about this. ‘I’ve never seen this before.’ Dad said. We walked the dry creek beds –  a way through the fence barriers between properties – looking at these old eucalypts with deep concern.

It took a few days but we erected a water tank somewhere down the hill from the spring so that the water could run in and fill up. At its base was the pool for the animals that, in turn, was fed by the tank. We gathered up rocks from the mountains and paved its walls. Somehow, these stones fitted together perfectly – as if they were simple coming back to each other after many years apart.

It was my habit to go for walks alone. Dad and I could co-exist in this place and sometime see very little of each other during the day. He too had his own pace and things to do and while we came together for little adventures and for evening’s return, we set our own rhythms. I was somewhere in the valley and all of a sudden, it rained. I saw Dad emerge from maybe 100 feet away and both of us stood out in the open, basking in the glimmer of sunlight through water, feeling everything respond under its touch.

Almost simultaneously, we noticed something neither of us had seen during the week we had already been there. Years ago, a passing bird in flight had dropped a cheery pip and from it a wild cherry tree had grown. At first, it struggled and we watched it over the years, leaved but not fruiting and somewhat small in size. On this day, in the middle of the valley, in the sun shower, despite logic, it glowed the most incredibly vibrant neon green. And what did we see? Small round cherries.  Finally and despite all odds, it throve. A little triumph. A feat of nature. A small miracle.

As most of you know, severe bush fires burnt through the Warrumbungles in January of this year. This week, my father returns to the land, his home