Here& Now with S Sorrensen

Billen Cliffs, Sunday, 5.30am

The mist hangs in the valley revealing only the ornamented upper thigh of the opposite ridge like the garter of a womans stocking, or, more realistically, a Chinese painting. The Chinese have such a delicate appreciation of beauty.

The sun hasnt yet breasted the cliffs to start the Australian leg of its daily relay and the pre-dawn pallor is silver-medal metallic.

Birds are creating a bit of a flap as they wait for the torch to appear. The flooded gums are doing a Mexican wave honouring the nifty zephyrs doing laps around this stadium that some call the North Valley and I call home.

All this as I sit on my toilet.

Its Sunday and Ive risen early and am witness to this opening ceremony. And I have a box seat.

Suddenly, little bats swarm near me, diving and darting in the half light. Catching insects I assume. At first I thought it was a flock of swallows but one swooped through the outhouse (its walls are, um, minimal) and came so close to hitting me I could see it clearly. It gave me a huge fright. (Luckily, I was on the toilet.)

Its a microbat. Theyre eerily quiet compared to the kookaburras except for that whoosh they make as they cockily and narrowly avert a collision with me in my box office.

I have a dunny with a view.

Having your toilet inside your house seems so uncivilised. Against the modern trend, I like to eat inside and poo outside. Old fashioned I guess. I also believe, probably old fashionedly as well, that the natural world around us and including us, is essential to a life with meaning. Actually, essential to life, full stop.

Thats why, despite the acrobatic bats, despite the solar torch announcing its imminent arrival with an unruly protest from crying fowls, I feel sad.

At my feet lies yet another report on climate change (with only the top left corner torn off so far) which Im reading between marvellings at the pre-dawn warm-ups.

This valley, my field of delights, is under threat.

And I am awake early not just to catch one of these lovely last days but because of a frightening dream.

I dreamt of soaring jagged mountains bereft of their cloaks of ice, exposed like a monks head, where the winter coat of the snow leopard hides it no more against the permanently brown rock of the uncovered ranges.

Where the big rivers that are normally birthed from mountain snowmelt are stillborn and the eight great lands below shrivel and wail in grief.

Where prayer flags shout their pleas to the dry wind but a deaf God has packed up his generosity and snowshoes and nicked off.

I dreamt this closing ceremony and no-one was there. Apart from the last snow leopard listening to a Chinese anthem.

We are changing those mountains. And this valley.

And like children we block our ears and hum some meaningless Mp3 tune to avoid hearing the awful truth.

All this from my dunny.

It really is a seat of wisdom.


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