The Enchanted World of Nutlidge
Before they even got outside, a loud flap of wings was heard and a huge golden bird landed on the branch. Sky grinned with delight at the friendly creature. It too was created from a large seedpod with a coral gum head, a long beak and friendly eyes. It had large wings like an albatross, a long fluffy tail, and a topknot feather on its head, something like a peacock.
“Sky, this is one of our beloved Nirds. They help us get around the tree. Come on, up you get; hold on to the feathers here and I’ll sit behind you and Curley can sit in front,” said Malley Gum.
They clambered on as the bird nestled down to let them get seated comfortably. Once they were ready Malley Gum made a funny rattle noise, and the Nirds long wings lifted them up into the air and out through the glistening foliage. It called out letting other traffic know it was coming. It’s call was like a kind of ‘honk’ and it sounded very funny to Sky.
They took off and flew through the boughs and limbs of the tree until they came to the outside and flew around it. Up and up they went, Sky squealing with delight as the wind blew her hair into Malley’s face. Another Nird flew past carrying two more nut people who waved to them, and Sky spotted her first fairy, dressed in blue, ducking back into the foliage. Suddenly, they turned in towards the foliage themselves and headed inward. Up and over and in between branches and limbs they flew! Sky squealed as they went over a bough and under another with swiftness and precision. Curley was grinning from ear to ear as well, hair pushed back with the wind in his face and he laughed loudly too! The Nird slowed down, flying at a speed where they could see things better. Sky notice that there were many types of leaves in this tree, in fact nearly every eucalypt species she was familiar with!
More nutleys could be seen walking and doing things on different branches that criss-crossed their way around the massive tree trunk. Little house fronts were embedded into the trunk, even in between boughs, which consisted of a round-topped door and two large oval openings for windows. They had their own front yards made out of what seemed to be huge shelves of fungi. Great big natural ledges hosted beautiful and varied gardens overflowing like green waterfalls. It was obvious that they were all beautifully kept. There were also spaces for the Nirds to land.
On the first busy branch she saw male and female nutleys attending some tiny plants. They were all grown in large gumnuts and in the holes and crevices along the huge bough. There were many types of plants, some with flowers and some without. Sky supposed it was a nursery.
“This is the trees supply of herbs,” said Malley Gum waving to a friend of his. His friend, a pixie dressed in green, waved back as he watered an area by the tree trunk. “Every single type of herb imaginable is available here amongst these branches. We supply to many nut colonies around Australia, even around the world.”
They flew around the massive trunk, which gave Sky the opportunity to see it properly. It was huge! She also saw her grandmother’s property, and got more of an idea where the tree was situated. She became brave for a moment and put her arms out each side as if flying, and she laughed as she enjoyed the ride.
Sky then saw a few branches that had all different types of fruit growing from the trunk and along the lengthy boughs. The area was manned by a variety of tree folk and included fairies, pixies, birds, insects and gnomes. This was a larger area and they flew through the different branches seeing all tree orchards loaded with fruit. There was a variety of ground hugging fruits also, such as miniature melons and strawberries. All these foods and plants were nurtured from seeds until they were beautifully large and lush; some things such as flowers growing to enormous sizes.
Then they flew close to the tree and the bird settled on a massive bough that didn’t look like a bough at all. It was more like another huge park and right at the tree trunk was a waterfall and a large pool of fresh cold sparkling water. The area was dotted with various tree folk, walking their nutley babies in gumnut prams, feeding the duck folk and the birds that flew in to entertain them. They all hopped off and went wading in the waterfall. The water was cool and refreshing. Sky stood in a shallow section of it looking around herself, in wonder of it all. Frogs hopped their way through the shrubby park where many types of flowers grew; again some buds were springing open before her eyes! Smaller ponds were scattered along the branch, being fed by this main waterfall.
“Oh this is so beautiful,” she sighed, as she watched a huge indigo butterfly flutter above her head and two pale blue fairy children holding on to its wing tails, giggling as they went.
Curley went for a quick dip and then had fun swinging on the large vines around the water hole. Malley Gum washed his face in the chilly liquid and sat on a rock next to Sky. He pulled a tiny cocoon from his cocoon bag and offered her a sweet. She took one, thanking him. It looked just like a hard blob of honey, and was very unusual indeed. First it tasted like carob chocolate, and then honey, then it became fizzy in her mouth and then it melted. The flavour that encompassed her tastebuds was like a very sweet caramel. The look on her face told them she enjoyed every aspect of it.
“Mmm!” She nodded, the taste rolling around her mouth.
“Here, have another one,” offered Malley Gum, and handed one to Curley who threw it up and caught it in his mouth.
“Citridoria Pitt made these,” informed Malley Gum, popping one into his own mouth and taking off his specks for the first time. “She makes sweets and all sorts of lovely things and comes around once a week with her selection. She is well known in the tree for her talent.”
“I can see why,” said Sky, devouring the second one.
“Could I buy some to take home?” Then she realised that she didn’t have anything to buy them with. “Oh, wait, I don’t have any money anyway!”
“Ah, that is one of the things you don’t have to worry about here,” said Malley. “We don’t have a monetary system like you do. We have a share system. Everyone can get what they need and they barter and offer something in return. It is all on a trust basis. We only take what we need and no more. Everyone has something to give, whether it is goods or to help in some way. No one is any richer or poorer than anyone else.”
“That’s wonderful,” said Sky. “You mean I could go to one of these places and get something I would like and not have to pay for it?”
“Certainly, and it always works itself out fairly,” replied Malley. “Come on, let’s go and have a look at the next spot.”
“Yeah! Come on Sky,” said Curley, “let’s go and see some more!” And he hopped on to the Nird that was waiting patiently.
They flew further up the tree until they came to a bough that was busy with nutleys making things.
They had piles and piles of different gumnuts and discarded cocoons, all waiting to be made into something useful. To the left of the piles were bark shelves hosting the finished products. There were cups and plates, bowls and vases made from nuts and nut caps. Bottles of all shapes and sizes were lined up ready to be given away. Sky walked along the shelves and chose a beautiful little jug for her mother. It was a gorgeous shape made from dried gum leaves. She knew her mum would love it.
Up a few branches they went, catching rides with small birds and climbing ladders and steps, until they came to a smaller bough with a food table made from thick bark. On the sunny side of the branch were a number of nutleys and fairies preparing food for passers by. It was an incredible smorgasbord made from every type of edible nut and fruit available. Sky had never seen so many different foods on the one table!
“Are you hungry?” Asked Malley Gum, noticing the look on her face.
“Wow! Can I try some of those things?” She replied.
“Sure! Come on, let’s have a bite.” He said, and showed her where the bowls were. They looked at some different flavoured honeycomb and chose two flavours, and Malley Gum poured them a drink of mixed saps and juice.
Sky ate heartily, enjoying the different flavours of all the tempting dishes before her.
When they had finished they caught another Nird, who dropped them off at a branch that was decked out with chairs and small tables all made from bark and sticks.
Tree folk were flying in and out everywhere. This branch was more popular than the food one. Built into the tree trunk was a large serving window and a door that was closed.
Behind the busy counter was a young female nutley trying to keep up with her visitors.
“Is this a café or something Malley?” Said Sky, sitting down in a funny little chair.
“Well I’m not familiar with the term, but it is where folk come to rest and drink our herbal teas. This is my sister’s home, and she runs it. I help her make the teas and her friends and volunteers help her to serve. It keeps her very busy, but she loves it! We have also established our own nursery further up the branch, for the herbs and other items we need for them.”
“Pop! Can we go see Coral now?” Asked Curley eagerly.
They walked over to the serving bench and passed the crowd awaiting their teas and went through the door next to it.
Malley’s sister had someone relieve her post and came over to join them. The nutley woman was shorter and looked younger than Malley. She had long fluffy hair that drifted around her as she moved and a long ponytail of fluffy hair at the back. She looked at Sky intently, fascinated with this new type of visitor.
“Coral, I’d like you to meet a new friend of mine,” said Malley Gum touching her on the shoulder.
“This is our young human friend, Sky. Sky this is my sister, Coral.”
“Hi!” Said Sky, smiling widely.
“Hello Sky, pleased to meet you. Hi Curley!” She added.
“It looks like you are kept very busy here!” Said Sky.
“Oh yes,” replied Coral, “the teas are part of our day to day life, so we are kept on the ball most of the time.” Coral looked over to the counter to find yet another customer waiting. “Please excuse me, I will be back in a moment.”
“That’s okay,” said Sky, understanding that they were busy.
“I might just give them a hand, I won’t be long,” said Malley, and he left her with Curley, who was getting bored. He had seen all this before and wanted to do something different with Sky.
Suddenly he caught sight of a nutley girl looking for him through the large serving window.
“Oh, my friend Leffel is here. Would you like to meet her?” He said eagerly, and headed for the door, Sky followed him. They met up just outside.
“Hi Curley,” she said gaily. “Want to come to the vines?”
“Yes I’d love to! Leffel, this is our new friend Sky. Sky, this is Leffel.”
“Hi, pleased to meet you.” Said the young nutley.
“Hello.” Replied Sky, feeling rather shy all of a sudden.
“Why don’t you come with us?” Suggested Leffel.
“That would be fantastic!” Agreed Curley, “Come on Sky, we’ll show you where we like to play. It’s really good fun!”
“Well, what about Malley and Coral?”
“It’ll be okay. They’ll know you’re with us,” assured Curley. “C’mon let’s go!”
Sky took off after them, wondering what this playground would be like.
They ran up the bough and out of sight amongst the foliage. Past the large nursery that supplied the shop, they kept running, dodging the odd branch sticking up and jumping over rather large ant lines, they came to what Sky thought was the end of the bough. There were masses of branches laden with leaves and a huge mass of tangled vines hanging down from somewhere above. There wasn’t much sunlight in this area, but it did catch the entangled mass and it looked beautiful. The vines had huge heart shaped leaves and orange trumpet flowers and ripe purple berries hanging all over it.
Curley led the way through the lush vines to an opening where the vines were larger and looked fairly old, and they didn’t have much foliage. There were lots of young nutleys, playing all over them and having a wonderful time, swinging by their tails and flying through the air to the next available branch.
Sky spotted a few fairy children playing with them and three pixies were swinging on a long rope as they went. Amongst the playing children, dragonflies hovered and butterflies fluttered through, taking fairy babies with them. It was a magical picture.
Curley and Leffel took off up one large climbing plant and began to swing like monkeys, from one to another catching up with their friends along the way. Suddenly Sky felt a little inadequate and settled for watching them.
Curley noticed Sky sitting down, and realised that she wasn’t quite equipped to play like they were. He headed back. Leffel saw him and followed, calling her friends to join them.
Sky was suddenly surrounded by lots of little people smiling and looking curiously at the new face.
“Everyone, this is Sky! She’s a human being.”
“A human being what?” Pipped up a tiny fairy girl that stood at her feet.
“No, a human being. That is what they are. Beings that are human.” He tried to explain. “Sky, these are our friends and study buddies!”
“Hi!” She said shyly.
“Where are your wings?” Asked one young fairy boy, playing with his sleeve.
“I don’t have wings,” she replied, “I wish I did though!” She added.
“We can fix that!” Whispered a red haired fairy girl.
She looked about Sky’s age and had blue eyes too. From under one of her skirt petals she pulled out a pretty purple pouch and dug her hand in it. She pulled out a handful of sparkly dust and threw it over Sky.
“Wings for Sky, so she can fly!” Said the fairy girl a little louder, and before they knew it, wings appeared behind Sky’s shoulders. They were beautiful big blue transparent wings, with tiny dark blue tails at the bottom. Sky could hardly feel them but she knew just what to do! As she thought about it, her wings began to flutter until she lifted herself off the ground and flew gracefully into the air.