Rainforest Life: Outing #8 – Day 6

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(Saturday 30-August-2014)

@2:25pm

Here we are, day almost over and I haven’t even scribed a word. Where are my manners.

The Blowflies here are really pissing me off today. They’re as annoying as regular House Flies are in suburbia – constantly huzzing in and out and into your area.

I’ve had to put the fly back on the tent today, because although the rain has been light, it’s been on and off all day. I’ve got an early dinner/late lunch of pasta cooking as I write, ’cause I didn’t bother with breakfast.

Today, I collected sap from some of the Bloodwood trees in my area. It’s traditionally used as an astringent and cure for diarrhea, and a mouthwash. It tastes disgusting, but I figured in might be useful.

@7:16pm

Now, drum-roll if you please: I have discovered an actual native bush-food, that is not only edible, but abundant in this very area. Abundant right up and down eastern NSW and VIC, in fact.

Narrow-leafed Geebungs are a berry-like fruit that grow all over the place here. Just within my immediate vicinity there are almost a dozen of these shrubby trees scattered about the place. They grow to only a few meters tall, so reaching the fruit is easy, and as the fruit ripen they drop to the ground.

The scientific name for the species is Persoonia linearis, and they’re apparently a much loved snack food of our indigenous brethren, who would both suck-out the sweet, fibrous pulp around the stone/seed, and also roast the stone itself then crack it open to add the cooked seed to other dishes.

Now, waiting for berries to decide they’re ripe and fall isn’t ideal, but I’m quite sure, with daily “rounds” to inspect plants in the area – as ripening time approaches – the summer months – I’ll be able to pluck-off fruit that’s *almost* ready to fall. I’ll just use my taste-buds to learn how they should look when they’re pick-able. There’s no reason at all I can’t eat the unripe berries, from what I’ve read, except they’re unripe.

I’ve tasted about a dozen unripe fruit today, and had zero negative effects, though that’s not as huge surprise, since the leaves, flowers, berries and bark are all pretty distinctive and assessed altogether I was pretty confident I had the right species of plant.

Tasted as shitty as most green, unripe fruit though: acidic, not very sweet and not terribly fleshy. Apparently, once they’re ripe their flavour is described as “sweet cotton-wool”.

So, despite the lack of trumpets and fanfare, it’s really quite an excellent day, because although it’s only one plant, it’s common enough for me to snack on all summer, and – much more importantly – represents fresh plant produce: an element of my diet that has been completely non-existent all winter whenever I’ve been down here.

Other plants I’d love to get a solid ID on are:

Wombat Berrys are endemic to rainforests around eastern NSW, and don’t taste like much, but are fine to eat.

Lillypilly berries are apparently a bit sour, but high in vitamin C.

Native Lemongrass was traditionally used by indigenous people for headaches, flu and fever, though I’ve a feeling this might be an arid plant.

@8:29pm

My fuzzy lady friend is back outside munching away on tonights offerings: Wheetbix and noodles (just moistened with cold water), a pinch of grated parmesan cheese, and two Geebung berries.

“Mipmipmip..”, there she goes. I’ve started speaking when I hear her. Just quietly, but with a normal voice – not whispering – I say, “Beautiful girl, there you are.” or similar affectionate phrases.

No, I’m not trying to court a she-rat, I’m trying to see whether she’ll grow accustomed to my voice – or better still, associate my voice with food – then she might not be so shy.

I could be wrong, but hey there’s no TV out here so it’s worth a shot, right? 🙂

@9:03pm

So far, in the time I’ve been coming out here – I was just thinking – the grant total of wildlife I’ve deliberately killed amounts to exactly one spider. The spider was small, and nothing dangerous and I immediately felt bad about it afterwards.

Nobody could count the number of animals I’ve accidently mushed into the ground of course – stomping all over the place, crushing things – but I try very hard now to keep an eye out for anything that looks like an animals home: rotting logs, mounds of grass that might be the entrance to a burrow or the like, I even try not to toss rocks out of my way because there’s something living under everything out here, all trying to stay safe in their poultry little makeshift homes.
Who am I to ruin those homes and expose them to attacks from predators or other dangers? No-one. I’m nobody to trash other living things environments.

Any time I think about doing something destructive to meet my own ends, I first ask myself, “If you weren’t here, would any other animal out here do this in your place?”. If the answer is no, then I don’t do it.

I’d like to say, “That’s the difference between being human, and being an animal: that animals don’t care about other species of animals.”, but how do we know that?

How do we know, that a Wombat going about it’s nightly business isn’t mindful of other creatures or their homes as he shuffles about? Sure he might squash some bugs while digging-up roots to eat, but he’s not *trying* to ruin anyone’s night: just looking for food so he doesn’t go hungry.
Of course he may not care at all, but it ‘d be arrogant in he extreme, and frankly just plain stupid, to assume to know how a Wombat – or any animal – thinks.
Mm starting to get a bit chilly without my sleeping-bag, now.

Speaking of all creatures great and small, I’ll have to make sure I have a few complete tent repair kits before the “bug explosion” that’ll occur when the weather warms up.

Marsupial Mice breed so frantically during these cold winter months specifically to time their offsprings ninety-day incubation for the horde of insects that’ll soon be flying, crawling and wriggling around and I for one wound loath to find myself with an unfixable hole in my tent at a time when fifty-thousand mosquitoes are fresh out of their stagnant ponds – ravenous for blood.
So I’ll need some tent repair kits

Rainforest Life: Outing #8 – Day 6
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Jason
Animal-loving cleaner with a parrot.

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