December has cleared the burnt trees. Its air is clean where new shoots, blue-like ascendancies, shove toward the sun. Everything new reminds us of fire – hip-high grasses, effortful canopies, the scorched trunks themselves – as we sit in the valley view of the back garden. Hilltop forest stands toward Kennett River remain brown as winter. The mechanics of restoration thrum, yell and clank, stop for lunch. Behind every colour is red, the bark that contains the red wood within, earth separated from seedhead. Reverse beep-beeps sound ordinary beside firetail manias. An echidna emerges from the bracken and ambles under the clothesline.
Photograph of echidna at Wye River: B. Harvey