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The Sharing Tree

By Gill Baker, Wangaratta Sustainability

Outside our window is a huge, centuries old Yellow Box tree. It offers shared accommodation to all comers, whatever their skin type, colour or language. Reptiles, mammals, birds, and all manner of crawling creatures are accepted. Yesterday a pair of ducks were having an intense discussion on one branch, wattle birds squawked on another, while king parrots, currawongs and magpies flew in and out.   In spring kookaburras will become the neighbourhood alarms, waking us on the dot of 4.30am.  In summer rosellas, galahs and cockatoos arrive, and babblers scratch and chatter underneath the tree.  As well as birds, a possum family has a favourite hole, and myriads of invertebrates live just under the dead layers of bark. When the tree is in blossom it hums with bees.

Generally the inhabitants rub along quite well, though no doubt there are food webs of sorts, one which included a marauding goanna who stirred the pot for a while until it was either chased out or chose to look for more upmarket quarters elsewhere.

Consider this tree a microcosm of Planet Earth, over which one species has assumed dominion, but each tribe of which fiercely defends its territory.  Our birds in the gum tree can move on to another easily enough when tensions become fraught.  Not so easy for us humans.  When we are forced out of our own place finding another to share is becoming increasingly difficult.  Yet theoretically there is enough space, water and food on the planet for every one of us, providing it is shared.

Therein lies the rub! In spite of being taught to share in kinder and prep, as we get older we become more protective of ‘our place’ and ‘our things’, and sharing gets trickier.  Seemingly the more we have the more difficult it is to share.  To be fair though, in this lucky country many people do share some of their resources with the less fortunate, both at home and overseas.  But it will possibly take a crisis of global proportions before a realistic and lasting balance will be achieved.  As individuals there is little more we can do except perhaps to step back and be satisfied with fulfilling our needs rather than our wants.

A philosophy which could also greatly benefit one’s waistline.