One of the things we’ve discovered about our new home is that we’ve been thrown into nature in a new way. We have gained a pet dog, which has introduced us to the world of ticks and interesting dog habits. So far from our yard we have retrieved a shark’s head, a teddy bear and a jar of peanut butter that have all been brought home as playthings.
Hermit crabs, collected from a nearby beach, lived in a bucket on our back deck for a week, before meeting their end due to starvation we suppose – what do you feed hermit crabs to keep them alive?
Fishing for Jason has introduced us to several new species of fish that we’ve never seen before including something called a sucker shark, which is a shark with a suction pad on its head that looks like a footprint. The sharks use this sucking mechanism to attach itself to other creatures, boats, divers or in Jason’s case the lid of our esky. Eating dinner last week, we discovered that the fish Jason had caught the previous week, a black spotted tuskfish, when cooked the bones turned bright blue.
What a shock to cut open the fish to begin eating and have a blue skeleton appear.
We have our veggie patch planted and are awaiting the arrival of shoots of tomato, cucumber, zucchini, silverbeet and herbs shoots at any moment! We have a banana tree in the backyard which has a crop of green bananas on it. Jason and Sam have been harvesting our coconut palm and enjoying fresh coconut milk regularly.
We are beginning to realise this is the nature of things….
Then, just in case this wasn’t enough up close and personal contact with nature, the mice appeared. Mice and I (Kim) have never been friends. I hated looking after them in Year 7 science when we had pet mice to observe and monitor. I screamed and jumped on the kitchen bench when one ran over my foot, as a teenager. The farmer’s son I was talking to on the phone at the time didn’t understand my concerns at all! In Ethiopia, when mice invaded my house, I awoke one night to find one eating the candle on my bedside table, just 15 cms from my face! Needless to say I didn’t sleep well for weeks after that. We met again at BCV with disastrous results. Then in Numbulwar, our mice friend devoured numerous packets of yoghurt mix, Maggi noodles and other precious food items before meeting his demise! I hate them! So when Jason informed me of the mouse living in our car, I was less than impressed. Jason saw it when he was checking something in the engine bay of our car, which caused the mouse to run away. Later that week, he found mouse poo and munched items inside our car. So we’ve been setting mouse traps inside our car for several nights in the hope of ridding these creatures from their new home. No luck! Until yesterday morning when Dora (our dog) was playing with something on the front lawn. Yes it was the rodent! I’m not sure why I went to look when Jason excitedly beckoned me to. Maybe his enthusiasm was contagious, but it is safe to say there is a least one less rodent living around our house now. It’s the nature of things.
On a friendlier side of nature, we have been talking lots about catepillars and butterflies here in recent weeks. A few weeks back Jason found a nice big chunky caterpillar and we put it in Sam’s bug catcher to watch. (Thanks Uncle Luke and Aunty Kelly for the great present!) We gave him some leaves to eat and he lived happily in there for a day or so… but then he disappeared. We assumed he had made a cocoon inside the leaves
and so we were excited about the idea of seeing the butterfly that would soon emerge. Sam checked on the caterpillar each day. Jimmy (another MAF kid living here) often wanted to check on it too. We read “The Very Hungry Catepillar” regularly. Catepillar crafts were made and adorn Sam’s bedroom. And then yesterday it happened, after two weeks of waititng, hoping and dreaming, (we weren’t entirely sure that it wasn’t dead in there.) the caterpillar was no more. Sitting calmly in the bug catcher was a beautiful….. moth! Not the beautiful butterfly we had imagined, but something had emerged! We took photos for Jimmy to see and watched it move. Excitement reigned for a little while and so we decided to let it go and enjoy its wings and ability to fly. Mr moth flew from one side of the backyard to the other. Jason chased it for more photos! I was pondering its freedom and flight and the beauty of creation…. And then it happened again. The nature of things…. As Mr Moth took flight for the washing line, a bird saw him, took aim and gulp… Our Mr Moth became morning tea for a local honey eater bird! Jason and I just stared at each other in disbelief! Sam missed what happened – which was probably a good thing! It was the nature of things again.
So, yesterday afternoon, found us exploring a new beach not far from home. While Dora explored anything dead and smelly she could find on the beach (Yes it’s her nature… we just need pegs for our noses for the car ride home!) We explored rock pools and found all sorts of treasures. The shells up here are amazing in their colour, shape and patterns. We found molluscs that felt like rock and looked like armoured vehicles. We pestered crabs and found amazing stinky coral formations. We were surrounded by nature in all its beauty and detail. And while Jason and Sam chased Dora and waded in the creek (shallow enough to see crocs…don’t worry… We are always on the look out for that down side of nature up here!) I spent some time in quiet reflection.
As I looked at the intricacies of shells, the beauty of the waves and the unique mangrove trees nearby, I stopped and listened. What I heard surprised me – nature is loud! It wasn’t the waves, or birds or normal noisy beach sounds. It was the actual rock pools that made noise as creatures moved around, frogs croaked, splashes rippled the water as crabs and fish relocated. It was so much noisier than I had ever noticed before. The noisiness of the rock pools reminded me of the noisiness in my life. Myself and some fellow MAF wives up here have been talking about how to best make time, and space for God in our lives, that are often full of noise. Most of us live noisy lives, where even if we can quiet ourselves the noises from our family, our neighbours and community still invade.
But to hear God best we often need to be still and quiet. Yes quiet usually stopping. Quiet means having the desire to hear. Quiet means having time to think and reflect. I thought about all sorts of things there in the midst of the rock pools, but two verses kept echoing around in my mind…
Isaiah 30:15 – This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…”
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Reminding me that just maybe it is God’s nature or His way of doing things to be heard most clearly in quietness, in those times when we choose to quiet our selves, our minds, and our lives at focus upon Him.