From the moment we learned of these two thousand year old Antarctic beech trees at Springbrook National Park, Queensland, my hubby, Bruce and I decided it would be good for us to see them ourselves. They day we chose for our adventure was raining, windy and 5°C on the mountain, not freezing, but cold enough. We ate our picnic lunch of homemade Moroccan chicken and coffee in the car before braving the frigidity of the mountain air. Though only three hundred metres from the car park, the trek down to the trees was like tramping through an icefield. We were cold, wet and uncomfortable and wondering why it was so important to see these trees. I had been anticipating seeing the trees for over a week, so I was dismayed when I didn’t receive the expected pop that accompanies the experience of being in the presence of something so ancient and wonderful. I was overwhelmed, but it was with a sense of despair. These three elderly forest dwellers, along with a few younger ones nearby, were all that remained of what must have once been a magnificent place. Others like them have been carted away through the centuries to become cabinets or simply to make room for cattle, crops and families. Shivering in the rain I couldn’t escape the sense that they represented a dying world, that this was the final stronghold for their kind. But there was hope there too. Some compassionate soul found them and appreciated their importance, understood that they were irreplaceable. The ancient beeches would have a home for as long as there were people to wonder at them. That was when the pop came. As the forest around them shifted, and contracted, as countless animals made homes among their roots and boughs, these giants held fast to the soil, growing silent and unhurried. I wished them a continued silent life and was gratified that at least something remained from the era before European contact. Death will come to these trees, but with hope and a little human compassion, it will be a natural one well beyond my lifetime.
Describe a moment when you experienced an unexpected sense of wonder.