Many things have happened in the past few days. We have been so busy living (interliving?) and being (interbeing?) and making new friends and fronds there has been little time for writing and reflection. I feel I could fill many pages with our adventures and still not come close to capturing it. So here are a few highlights.

wine frondsWe spent much of the weekend at the local Readers and Writers Festival. I was so engrossed in the sessions I attended, soaking up the love and magic of language, that I didn’t remember to get a proper photo of this, but in the evenings, as you can see, there was wine.

A highlight was the session with poet Mark Tredinnick, whose landscape memoir of the Blue Mountains, The Blue Plateau I have been reading and loving. One gem I loved was Mark pointing out that the Greek origin of the word poet means ‘maker’. Perhaps then the fronds and I together are ‘sympoets’, as we are making together.

Looking back at my notes from this session I can see many scribblings that resonate with this project. Musing on poetry, Mark described it as ‘a way of making sense, a stay against confusion, a way of giving back the gift of living.’ I feel I’m still early on my path of honing the potential of poetic language, but love this way of thinking about it. I think that is also a fitting description of my experience of living with the fronds so far, finding novel ways of making sense and holding back confusion.

I read some poetry at the local poets session as part of the festival. This included some of what I’ve written with the fronds so far. I was a bit nervous about introducing them to a room of fifty people, but once I got up there I really enjoyed it. The words came to life in a way they hadn’t before, and I felt like I was performing with the fronds. I invited people to come and meet the fronds after, and they responded with curiosity and playfulness. Some just came and said hello, others wanted to ask questions. One of my favourite comments was from a person who said that meeting and hearing about the fronds brought her straight out of her ‘office head’. Another said he wished us ‘much joy together’.

I also entered into the poetry slam, and although my poem wasn’t directly frond-related I definitely feel like they influenced it, and helped me build my confidence to speak directly and passionately. I’ll share the poem I wrote for it soon.

The festival has left me feeling energised, inspired, and with lots of ideas bursting to get onto the page. However, I was aware for the fronds that the festival environment (indoors under fluorescent lights) was not so conducive to their physical thriving. So I made an effort to spend time outside in the sun wherever possible. This is part of a pattern I’ve noticed, in which I’ve been spending time in stillness outdoors much more than I would usually. When I have an hour or so to spare, between festival sessions, or between work and picking Dave up to go home, I am seeking out patches of sunlight, grass or benches to sit on. I’ve also been sitting out on the verandah to eat breakfast, and observing the life in our garden. In this way I’m coming to see the fronds as intermediaries, bringing me closer to other more-than-human beings.


Yesterday, in one such verandah breakfast session I wrote this poem:

This morning there seems to be one hundred
Small birds achatter
In a tree at the end of the verandah.
Mostly zebra finch meeping,
Some double-barreds, thornbill twitter
And a couple of sparrows.
Every now and then a gust of wind
Blows a swirl of leaves off the tree
And some of the leaves are leaves
And some of the leaves are birds
And some fall to the ground
While some perch in conversation on the fence
Until consensus is reached
To return to the tree
And make it sing again.
A shimmer of starlings flies overhead
With a whooosh
But my (inherited) prejudices
Hold me back
From fully loving their beauty.
This morning’s fog is nothing now but
A memory on the corners of the sun-steeped wind,
Which carries the glittering call of the fairy wren
Out from under the bushes,
Sprinkling it over my pyjamaed body
And the weedy stubble of the paddocks over the fence
Showing no preference for one or the other.

And now, for a few more closing snippets for today.


Backup pot number three had a passionate rendezvous with gravity.  We are now operating without a safety net.

I solved (or perhaps just cheated for now) my ethical weeding dilemma by transplanting the weeds from main fronds (fronds 2, who I have been travelling with since the ‘incident’) into the other pot (fronds 1, of the zombie purslane). In this way my guilt is assuaged, I can have more control in one arena and let wildness (yet a tended wildness) have its way in another. I can also satisfy my curiosity in seeing what these weeds will become.

We also spent some nice Friday hours reading about plant philosophy.

vegetal philosophy



2 thoughts on “Sympoetry

  1. What a catching thought:’sympoets’, making together! Co performers? Interesting that people drawn to approach you and their comments. The notion of fronds being intermediaries is worth pursuing enabling more intimacy with more than human ( quite a contested term, as you probably know))? Have you looked at Goethian Science? My PhD supervisor, John Cameron ( also Mark Tredinnick’s who I know), great SE advocate/ activist/ teacher, has written some interesting jnl articles on Goethe and phenomenology- Steiner based his work on his work. No comment place on May 31 but loved the photo of the hairs and ‘trembling’ and you! Many times have I read about the shivering of cottontails! Thinking about the sound of dried honesty…. Have you read The Secret Life of Plants? An early articulation of the unseen world of plant communication. What is Marder’s book like? And I must comment on the photo of honesty leaning over the bone china cups- my imagination likes to conjure the affinity of earth/clay/bones/ heat/china. Your accountability for the fronds is important ethics emerging and moves exploration into Barad . My Elder/ teacher Uncle Max uses ‘these fellas’ denoting kin as his language whether it be plants or animals or rocks. Interested to see where your weeding dilemma goes.,.


    • Thanks Carol. I’ve read a little of John Cameron’s work, and am certainly interested to look into Goethian science more. The tea cups come from my grandmother’s house, as does the honesty. So they are different forms of embodied memory for me, as well as different expressions of earth, as you point out. I read the Secret Life of Plants years ago, and revisited it a little this year. It pushes it in terms of credibility for me, although in general I find some of the ideas exciting. There’s a new book out just recently called The Language of Plants edited by Monica Gagliano which seems like it merges some more rigorous science with philosophy, I’m keen to read it. I haven’t made it very far into Marder’s book, some of it I find a bit difficult, but worth pursuing further I think, I was scribbling lots of notes from the parts I have read.


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