OPINION | Green dream in a fragile land

In my part of the country, the colour palette of the natural world has gone from austere beige and khaki to stunning, eye-watering green in only a few weeks.

Fields you'd have given up for dead have burst into life again. Trees that had been dying back have been reinvigorated (some of them, at least). And as for my vege patch, well, let's just say I've got some weeding to do.

I had been trying to convince myself to see some beauty in the drought-stricken landscape, instead of continually grieving the changes and wishing it were different. More like before, when it rained occasionally.

Now that it has indeed rained (sorry if you didn't get any - I feel like we took more than our share), I'm almost unnerved by the verdant loveliness around me. I'm hoping I don't have to go back to trying to appreciate a dead blade of glass anytime soon.

But as much as I'm loving the rain, I've become a little more wary of nature.

Along with most other Australians, this summer has taught me that we can't take it for granted. Neither its beauty nor its terror.

Now I know how the land looks without its carpet of green, and I know that the other furnishings - huge, ancient trees, thick forests, wide beaches and lakes - are just as ephemeral.

I used to feel like different parts of the country (the world, even) looked a certain way and always would.

Now I have had it brought home to me, again and again, through fire, flood and storm, that everything can change. And change quickly.

The slow growth of a tree, the gradual deepening of a river valley; these transformations are the work of centuries, sometimes eons.

But the gathering effect of drought, or the even faster impact of fire and storm, can be a shock.

I imagine there will be more shocks to come.

Now that we've seen through to the bones of our land, a little bit of flesh on its skeleton shouldn't fool us into forgetting how vulnerable it is.

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