Brunswick River NSW Thursday 6 April 2017
Amid the anguish of the flooding caused by Cyclone Debbie, the Cloudcatchers group on the Far North Coast of New South Wales held its autumn ginko on Thursday 6 April. Some of the members had suffered damage to home and property, some were cut off for days by flood waters, experienced power blackouts, and some were still involved with the arduous and heartbreaking job of cleaning up.
The visit to this venue had been planned for over eighteen months. We were anxious to repeat an experience shared in 2011 of exploring the mangrove tidal flats of the Brunswick River, 40 km north of Ballina. For this we needed a low tide at the right time of day, on the right day of the week, in the right month of the season. Eventually the date was established, but after weeks of heavy winds, rain and flooding, the gathering was in doubt.
Seven poets assembled anyway, and in spite of all meteorological predictions, it was a gloriously sunny morning, though the river (even at low tide) was still rather high and the sand streaked with red mud. In this squelchy environment many resonating haiku tumbled forth.
First drafts were shared at the picnic table between the river and the sea, while a number of bush turkeys circumnavigated the group. Comment was made about debris brought downriver from the inland to be reconstructed on the beach by human hands into driftwood teepees and works of art. Some wrote of hermit crabs in whelk shells which left distinctive marks across the sand, beach hibiscus that dropped pristine flowers onto the mud, and a child fishing with her dad. Sandbanks rose out of the river as the tide dropped, and an assortment of seabirds scavenged there in harmony.
Lunch at the Brunswick Hotel was as jolly as ever. The subsequent Round Robin is currently underway.