This weekend our class split up to do homestays with local families, explorers, prodigies. Although I enjoy my time at SFS spending time with invigorating fellow students trekking for field work and laughing at dinner every night, it was a refreshing break to get to know someone who lives in the land we are studying. The perspective of a local is very valuable, as they truly understand and have a feel for the place they love to live in. I stayed with a retired ecologist originally from Melbourne who moved to the Tablelands that he stated was his favorite place in all of Australia! After years of doing research on the ecology of eucalypt forests and rare birds, I could feel his passion for the environment shining through his intriguing descriptions and soft words as he smiled through it all. We drove around the beginning edges of the outback (which I never knew were so close to our home in the rainforest) as we stopped along the road multiple times to hear all about the surprisingly unnoticeable rare plants, the fascinating inner workings and resilience of the eucalypts, and pristine waterfalls (special places reached only by the determined) whose beauty and power left me utterly awe-stricken.
As an environmental studies student ready to graduate in the next year and still having no idea what exactly I’d like to do afterwards, I was inspired by Don’s humble passion and patient observations of the world around him. I’ll always be quietly observing and finding the small rare flowers in every part of life to keep smiling at. I will be bringing the fires close to me and regrow anew ever stronger, just like the eucalypts. Thank you for your wisdom and showing me the beauty of open, flowing spaces.