The sun peaks over distance hills, setting the Aranda bushlands aglow. As I slowly jog through the same nature reserve I was lost in a year and a half ago, it’s hard to keep my eyes on the path. Above, I hear at least five distinct bird calls. I recognize some from when I was here last: Magpies, Currawongs, Cockatoos, Rosellas. The Maggies are my favorites. Black birds with a white beak dipped in black, white along the back of the neck and a big white stripe down the wings and tail. They sing enchanted lullabies as they flutter from branch to branch. The Rosellas’ little red, blue, green and yellow bodies bounce around. When they’re not snuggling each other, they’re chirping and cooing the most child-like sounds of all the animal kingdom. The Cockatoos, with magnificent and huge whitish yellow bodies and powerful twig snapping beaks, peer at me mischievously from around a branch. As I jog past, I see a large yellow-topped head and big black eyes stare down, following my movement through the woods.
The cement trail turns to reddish brown earth as I slowly jog past an ant hill, ants streaming out to see who’s intruding. I step gingerly away before they can climb up my sneakers to take a fiery bite.
Tom says I don’t need to worry about snakes this early in the morning, but it’s hard not to be suspicious of every long branch scattering the path. They’ll still be hiding from the chill of the morning air, and won’t come out until the sun warms up the open trails.
It’s been 14 months since I was here last. I originally worried I was repeating a previous cycle- repeating history- but I’ve recently realized nothing is the same, nor will it ever be. The songs and colors of the birds may be the same, the geography unchanged, but the circumstances, the adventures to come and where I am in the space-time continuum will always be different. Although I feel the same awe at this unchanged landscape as before, it’s no less powerful or magical.
At the edge of the shire, I turn around and trot home, leaving Tom to pound up the trails.