“Talk to me,“ Kathy asked the Cedar Tree
I didn’t hear the answer right then. I was too engrossed in the visual presence of that majestic being. Her trunk surrounded by close neighbors of a variety of species caused her to reach straight up into the sky. Way up at the top I could see her small purple leaves just beginning their spring growth. Soon they would be green and not so easy to identify.
I wanted to find a way to illustrate her height. I stepped further back from her, and turned my iPad camera to pano. I started at the based, and panned up and up,
I turned the camera back and checked my photo. Yes that’s it, that catches it, I thought.
Kathy called to me from the far side of the tree. “Come over here and look at the bark.”
I closed up my iPad and put it in my left hand. I held my walking sticks horizontal in my right hand and took a step towards her.
Something grabbed my leg and held it tight. I twisted around and yanked at it, impatient to see the other side of the tree. My leg twisted, and I heard a crack.
“Take that you bloody human,” the bush yelled at me. The vines stood united in support of the cedar tree.
“But, but I’m just taking a picture. I’m admiring you, I’m not hurting you.” I protested, as my butt crashed to the ground.
“That’s what they all say. The picture says where I am. I saw my mother and father chopped, when I was just a sapling. I tried to save them, I nurtured them sending nutrients through the soil to their roots, but without leaves or branches, they died, they all died. Why, why do you do this to us. What have we ever done to you?”
I grabbed my walking sticks and raised my body up to standing. Pain seared through my body if I put any weight on the right leg. I hopped to the edge of the bush Kathy by my side. I pulled out my iPhone to call for help. SOS it said, no phone reception here. I opened my phone and gave it to Kathy asking her to walk to the top of the next hill and call from there, while I settled down to wait and think.
Kathy shouldn’t have asked the poor old tree to speak. Ever since the first ships landed red cedar trees have been cut. They were put into the sailing ships for ballast and returned to mother England to make fine furniture.
Is my leg really broken? I head it crack. A white Ute appeared over the horizon. She’d found help. We called the hospital, we had to drive an hour to the coast. As long as I didn’t put weight on it, it didn’t hurt. Maybe it was just a sprain. I didn’t deserve a broken bone, I didn’t cut down even one Red Cedar.
Australia has health coverage for Australians, not tourists. I had purchased some insurance, but they wanted my credit card before they’d see me. After they got it, they put me right through to the head of the line. The X-ray revealed. It was broken, straight simple, but broken.
They put a cast on it and sent me home, checking that I wasn’t living alone. No hiking for 13 weeks. Six weeks with a cast, 6 weeks in a boot, plus time to learn to walk right again, and I swear I never did cut down one Cedar. I won’t cut any now either.
I chose a pretty green cast. Which I managed to take on a camping trip to Cairns (see next blog) Queensland had opened up for people who were living here, so before the ankle got broken we’d bought tickets, and reserved a camper van, but then the Red Cedar spoke. I got a special note from the doctor to fly, and we went anyway.
I thought I’d be able to hike in the boot. But it wasn’t easy especially with the hills around Long Timber.
Finally after another 6 weeks and help from my physio (australian for physical therapist). I took the boot off and started to hike. We took a tour of Frazer Island, we were mainly on a bus but I did manage a short hike:
Back at Long Timber I am hiking again. Today I started off early with a friend to visit the scene of the crime. I got to walk around and see the other side, carefully using my walking sticks. I reassured the beautiful tree, “I’m not here to hurt you, just to admire your beauty.”
After that I carefully looked at the vines that had twisted my ankle. They looked very innocent, but I wasn’t ready to walk in amongst them.