A gardening adventure
Just two days before I landed in Australia – in mid-July – I had been standing sweating, over 15,000 kilometers North-West of the Gold Coast, working in my parents’ garden, on a little island South of Copenhagen where I normally live. Ten years ago, my parents bought an idyllic summerhouse with a plot of land, located amongst beautiful wheat fields and just kissing the cold, Danish coast. My parents work in development aid, with the consequence that they aren’t in – or anywhere near – their summer house for many months at a time, instead travelling the world, pushing for better education systems. While they may slowly be making the world a better, more educated place the garden surrounding their summerhouse suffers from their lifestyle choice!
This summer I had decided to do something about it and take up a fight with nature, which in my opinion had run amok. I was going to clear trees from areas where there were once open spaces, I was going to cut back bushes, revealing flowers and fruit trees behind them, I was going to rid branches that cast shadows over spots where there was once sun. Studying business, I chose to see my work in the garden as a turnaround case! My parent’s garden was the equivalent of a business that had once been well-run, with a purpose and a product that was well-liked and well-appreciated by its surroundings, but since then had nearly gone bust. Like any turnaround, it would require hard work and persistent effort, but I was determined that on this plot of land I would beat nature back to where it came from, and bring it back to the glory it once enjoyed, regardless of the consequences!
There were of course consequences
Amongst the minor negative consequences of my mission were scratches on my skin and dirt on my clothes that will not come off. Amongst other consequences, I had worked so hard in that garden that I could hardly lift my suitcases through Copenhagen airport and sat in a state of agonizing pain in three planes and four airports in my travel from Copenhagen to Brisbane. Another consequence that I really regret was the fact that in my eagerness to clear the land in my parent’s garden I must have cut a branch holding a nest, with a chick that could not yet fly. This chick crawled slowly, and very quietly, passed my feet, after I had inadvertently knocked it from its home – it was looking for refuge without making a single sound of despair.
Symbolically, this of course couldn’t have come at a more sobering time for me! For while I had (inadvertently) forced this chick to go and explore a world that was previously unknown to it, I was voluntarily about to do the same. The chick was leaving the comforts of its nest, where it had previously lived so safely – it had known its way around, it had known who in its life it could depend on and what dangers to be aware of, it had known when the sun goes up, and what happens after it goes down in its little nest, it had understood its immediate surroundings, and what it could expect of them – and after just a very short journey, all this would change. I am a chick!
Surely of course, the chick would have known that there was a world beyond the comforts of its nest. Surely it would have sensed that the world around it was vast and beyond what it could comprehend. Surely it would have been told of the dangers of leaving the nest, by the birds closest to it, but it would in the same breadth have heard of the inevitable adventures ahead of it. Surely the chick would have been preparing for life outside of the nest, with a certain mix of fear and excitement of what would await it. And surely, the chick would have felt that the day it left the nest came all too soon and snuck up on it unexpectedly. I am a chick!
I too fell from a nest
For the last four years Copenhagen has been my nest. I have left the comfort of Copenhagen, where I have so far lived so safely. I have left a place where I knew my way around and where I knew who I could depend on, and who I couldn’t, and what I need be aware of. I knew when the sun went up, and when it went back down and I knew about the life on offer, in either case. I understood my immediate surroundings and what I could expect from them – and after just a 24-hour (painful) flight all this has changed.
Of course, I knew of Australia before I came. I knew that there was a vast country of people, and an entire continent and culture, waiting to be explored, lying far outside of my nest. I knew that there were dangers to leaving (there are an insane number of animals on this continent which can and wish to kill you, in a heartbeat) and adventures awaiting (I am still looking forward to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, Whitsundays, Fraser Island, etc.). And yes, I did prepare myself from home – I read books, I spoke to people who had been here, and I went through every page concerning Griffith and Australia, I could find online – and yes, I was both fearful and excited about the journey awaiting me. And just like the chick, the day I travelled snuck up on me and I questioned on the day I stepped on the plane, whether I was ready to travel at all. But the dates on the tickets were not negotiable and thus I arrived in this new Australian world, three weeks ago. Yes, I am a chick!
From one nest to another
What surprised me most about the chick that had suddenly had its entire world changed by a clumsy creature with a saw, was the silence with which it approached the new world. Instinctively, the chick appeared to know that no good would come of making a fuss and attracting too much attention to itself. It approached the new and unknown world with modesty and curiosity as it was looking for a new foothold (and trying to listen, or to ignore, the mad and wild calls coming from its parents located nearby, screaming a ton of good advice).
I intend to take this as a lesson. As I go on my adventure outside my nest I will do so with modesty and observantly, as I try to find a foothold in Australia. It is the observations I make on this “nest-exchange” that I will share on this blog in the future. I will let you in on what I am observing outside my nest – what scares me, what I miss, what I am excited about, and what I hope to do in the future, in this vast world outside my nest! And I will say more about the Griffith nest that I have landed in, and what I think of this compared to the nest where I came from. Tune in!