Writer - Author - Poet
Writer - Author - Poet

The Wonderful Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus are iconic Australian trees with distinctive bark, leaves, and striking foliage. There are over 700 species that are highly valued for their oil. Several large eucalyptus trees lined the eastern side of our rental, and I never tired of gazing at their magnificent trunks and branches. The more mature ones looked like works of art, with round beige, gray, brown, and black dotted patterns. I learned they are fast-growing trees and don’t live as long as other trees, but some Australian eucalyptus live to be over 500 years old. Eucalyptus fossils date back 60 million years when many southern continents were still joined together as part of the southern landmass called Gondwana.

Every morning and evening, a family group of Kookaburras perched high in a eucalyptus tree on the northern side of our deck, engaged in a chorus of what sounded like human laughter. I couldn’t help but smile and want to mimic their sound every time I heard that mix of cackling laughter, chortles, and hoots. Kookaburras are monogamous and mate for life, living up to 20 years.  

Rainbow Lorikeets, Black Cockatoos, White Cockatoos, Rosellas, Little Wattlebirds, and one of my favorite Australian birds, the Superb Fairy Wren frequented the area as well. Once, while having lunch on the deck’s picnic table, we watched a White-bellied Sea Eagle fly past with a wingspan of over 6’ or 2m. They have a distinctive honk-like call, and like the North American Bald Eagle, they are skilled hunters and will attack prey up to the size of a swan.

77% of Australia’s native forests are covered in Eucalyptus trees which provide shelter, not only for the wonderful Australian birdlife, but for animals such as koalas, possums, bats, and gliders.

The indigenous peoples of Australia have long held respect and a deep connection to the Eucalyptus such as burning their leaves in smoking ceremonies. Some of their dot-art paintings express the charm and elegance of the eucalyptus flowers, with distinctive colors and patterns. In many Australian Aboriginal cultures, the eucalyptus is seen as a holy tree, marking the boundary between the underworld, heaven, and earth –a symbol of spirituality.

Eucalyptus forests feature a sharp and slightly medicinal smell –a bit like rosemary with a hint of mint and citrus. When I take some leaves in my hand and crinkle them, I smell a mix of menthol and honey. Indigenous Australians used eucalyptus oil for centuries before the arrival of Europeans, to fight inflammation and promote healing for several different ailments such as arthritis, congestion, muscle pain, and as an antiseptic to kill germs.

It’s easy to heal and get strong in a place surrounded by mature eucalyptus forests, filling the air with a complex woodland aroma, and watching birds in the high branches. It’s easy to feel light and happy with bright, sunny days, walks on the beach, and magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

Last year I wrote a blog about the popular Chinese parable of a poor farmer who goes through a series of unfortunate events that turn out to be auspicious (Good Fortune, Bad Fortune August 2023). I feel a bit like that now. Although I fractured my ankle, which limited what I could do (especially in those first 2 weeks), I had no choice but to slow down. And in that slowing down process, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in my mindfulness and focus. I’m breathing more deeply, feeling more at ease, appreciating my surroundings, and not feeling any urgency to complete my next book. Best of all, I am filled with gratitude for all the little things I normally take for granted: going up and down stairs, carrying groceries from the car into the house, sitting in a cross-legged position, looking at my surroundings instead of the next step in front of me, and going for long, luxurious walks again.

A grateful heart is the best kind to have. Sharon Kreider

Enjoy the Passage of Time.


© 2024. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “The Wonderful Eucalyptus

  1. When I was a teenager, I innocently planted a eucalyptus in the back garden, thinking it would grow like a shrub. It turned into a tree that unfortunately slanted dangerously across the garden so had to be cut down! Thank you for sharing this fascinating information about eucalyptus.

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