Day 19: At the Midden

In the week before Christmas I leave the shopping malls behind and go instead to a lonely clifftop track where ancient shells lie sun bleached on an old Aboriginal midden. Wandering along the sandy trails I hear young men hollering to each other. Walking closer to the cliffs I see they have scrambled down and are exploring the rock pools that have been exposed by the retreating tide.

I leave them to it and walk on to the midden. Not wanting to disturb the fragile remains I skirt around them and sit on a rock at the edge. It is a hot day and the light is bright. The boys have quietened down and the bush around me slumbers in the early afternoon heat. Sitting there I have a sense that people have interacted with the place for thousands of years. The scattered shells are evidence of meals eaten long ago when human life went at a slower pace – a time when people moved in harmony with the world around them. 
The frantic buzz of the consumer fest of Christmas fades from my mind and I enter a trance-like state where time is measured in breaths rather than purchases. It seems to me that I can hear a faint refrain – the gentle voice of women who had once sat here tending cooking fires while young boys clambered around the rocks collecting shell fish for a meal. 

Held in warmth, 
the past and present merging,
-heart of Gaia

This beautiful haibun comes from Suzanne Miller. She is an artist and writer living in south eastern Australia, and I find her work so evocative of the Australian landscape. She has an Honours Degree in Visual Art and a Masters in Creative Writing. These days she writes for her own pleasure and for the joy of sharing her work with others. You can read more of Suzanne’s work at her blog:

9 thoughts on “Day 19: At the Midden

  1. I’m so glad you included a haibun, Sarah, and that it is one of Suzanne’s, with an Australian view of Christmas. And what a view! A hot day with ancient sun-bleached shells, sandy trails and an old Aboriginal midden. The description is so vivid it’s like being there, even though I have no personal experience of the Australian landscape. I particularly love the portrayal of the bush that ‘slumbers in the early afternoon heat’ and the pondering n the history of the scattered shells. No ‘frantic buzz of the consumer fest of Christmas’ here, where past and present merge.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a powerful contrast between the ancient and modern experience of the world at this time of year. If I could sign up for the Aboriginal experience, I’d happily trade my Christmas shopping budget to do so!


  3. What a wonderful read this was, the walk to the midden, and the reflection on a time measured in breaths rather than purchases. I could almost see the ancient ones of long ago. Just beautiful. You took me there.


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