Nutlidge ~ Chapter Two

Chapter Two

A Raven and a Tree

The Eagle was tapping louder now and suddenly called out a loud ‘caw’. Sky realised that it wasn’t an Eagle call but a Raven’s and turned to look at the bird behind her.
A large Raven was now where the Eagle had been, and a look of surprise was on Sky’s face.
“Where did you come from?” She smiled.
The Raven began to caw louder and louder until it became too loud for Sky’s ears and she became agitated, covering her ears with her hands.
“Okay! Okay! I can hear you!” She called out and suddenly she awoke with a jump. Still holding her ears and a little disorientated, Sky came back to reality to hear the odd ‘cawing’ from the trees outside followed by a tapping on wood.
With a big yawn and a heavy sigh, Sky sat herself up on the old couch and looked around herself whilst she woke up fully from her amazing dream.
The quaint room of the cottage was glowing with the last of the morning sun. It trickled in gently and a warm breeze was moving gently around her bare feet. The crystal at the kitchen sink window was throwing tiny rainbows everywhere. This was her favourite place, the old cottage. It sat in a beautiful rainforest on her grandmother’s property, and was set away from the main house. The main house was built a century or so after the cottage was built back in 1800s.
It was just where she needed to be after a hugely upsetting and chaotic morning. Her family had received bad news about their cousin in Bali.
Tommo was Sky’s cousin. He was twenty years older than her, and was her brother’s best buddy. Baize was only 16, but got on well with Tommo and they spent a lot of time together.
It had been a busy morning, and an early start too. The phone had rung at about 4 am and it got them all up. After that, breakfast followed by a rushed packing of Sky’s bags, phone calls and in the car they got! Sky was still yawning when her upset mother, Fran, had dropped her at her grandmother’s house and headed off to the Melbourne airport with Baize to see Sky’s uncle off to Bali. His son had been caught in the blast with his teammates and was in the intensive care unit at the Sanglah Hospital.
Sky shook her head as all the pictures from the mornings events unfolded in her mind. She couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do such an awful thing. “What is going on in the world?” She asked herself quietly, as her eyes found the light of the window and she stared at the beauty outside for a long time.
She had spent the early hours of the morning with her grandmother, happily helping her with a few small jobs around her huge two-storey house. They had eaten an early breakfast on the balcony and took in the beauty of the surrounding gardens, talking about the Bali tragedy. After everything, Sky was exhausted.
Up above, a beautiful day had begun and the sky was clear except for a few small clouds. Sky focused on one lonesome cloud, drifting slowly along as it changed shape. This was a favourite pastime of Sky’s also. It turned into what looked to her like a gumnut! Then, it appeared to turn into a doorway. She had mentioned this to her grandma, and they’d had a long chat about mystical magical things and what the cloud and was trying to tell her. They had decided that it signified a doorway to new and exciting opportunities coming into her life.
Sky loved having conversations with her grandmother. She was always telling her wonderful things about life that no one else really talked about, except maybe her mother. It was a world that had been stolen from humanity, which was now being realised by millions. Our true magical Divine side. We were Creators and could create anything with our thoughts. In fact, we do this all the time. “Be careful of the thoughts you put out there,” her grandma would say, “for that is what will create your future.”

After this, Sky decided to go for a walk through the gardens to check on the old cottage. She loved this place because every garden she walked through was different. Her favourites were the main garden, where flowers were always abundant in every colour imaginable, and the eucalyptus forest where she would sometimes fossick for hours and find many types of gumnuts and pods to use for her art. They were colourful and everywhere, and to Sky it was like a treasure trove.
She had eventually reached the cottage and felt relieved to be back again. By that time, all she had felt like doing was making herself a cup of warm chocolate and sitting on the lounge. She had reflected on her day so far, and looked around the beautiful room at her leisure and when her drink was finished, she had fallen asleep.
Still sitting quietly, Sky looked at the antique clock on the mantelpiece. She had slept awhile! It was eleven minutes past eleven. 11:11 flashed in her mind and she remembered her mother mentioning this a few days before. Something to do with, “a change in energy and a wake up call you send to yourself. A reminder of your true purpose here on Earth.”
Sky thought back to the dream again. “That was the best flying dream I’ve had in ages!” She said to herself, remembering the clouds and the river. Then she remembered the Eagle and the door.
“That door again…” She still pondered quietly to herself, “It opened and something woke me up…” She looked towards the open door and felt momentarily annoyed that she hadn’t found out what had lain behind the door once again.
A loud tapping was again heard outside and it became more and more frequent. The bird was still out there cawing, a little more often now.
Sky re-tied her hair so that her pigtail had a loop in it. It was cooler like that. She stretched and stood up, straightening her jeans and T-shirt, and headed for the door.
She still had an ornament in her hand from the doll’s house in the other room, so she ducked in there first to put it away. The doll’s house was quite large, covering the best part of one wall in the bedroom. Her great-great-great-great grandfather had made it, along with all the furniture within it. He was a fine craftsman and his work had lasted well. It was spectacular. Apparently his wife had decorated it, and she had done a beautiful job. Every room you could imagine was in this house. It had two large doors that closed to form the fourth and front wall to the miniature mansion, covered with lovely windows, balconies and French doors. It had four storeys with stairs connecting them all, carpets, wallpaper, exquisite furniture, framed pictures, cupboards and drawers that worked, running water and all the ornaments and utensils a family could ever have.
There were four antique porcelain dolls, dressed in sixteenth century attire, a father, a mother, a boy and a girl.
Sky usually spent hours playing with the doll’s house when she stayed. Loving tiny things like she did, she was in her element.
Now more awake and feeling quite refreshed, Sky headed out the door, grabbing her backpack on the way. The bird, a Raven after all, was on a nearby branch and it was still tapping at the wood and wiping its beak. His throat feathers were ruffled, unlike a crow that would have had a silky throat. It stopped and looked at her in what she thought to be a very curious way and flew to the next branch. It turned around and looked at her again. She remembered what her grandmother had told her. Ravens usually meant magic, and in ancient cultures were thought to be the link between the known reality and one that is hidden.
The Raven flew in short stages and kept looking back at Sky who had now chosen to follow it.
They ended up at the bridge and the bird changed directions, flying upstream toward the waterfall. Sky had always wanted to follow this stream to see where it went and so, with the cottage almost forgotten and her backpack strapped to her shoulders, she climbed down from the bridge and headed after the bird. She climbed over rocks and small waterfalls and around rock pools, and every now and then the Raven would stop and wait for her to catch up. It sent out one of its loud calls and continued its journey down the river.
They had gone about 500 metres by the time the Raven stopped and made itself comfortable on a large boulder after ruffling its feathers and calling out once more.
Sky looked around and didn’t see anything unusual. However, it had been fun and so she sat and caught her breath with her feet in the water and her eyes up amongst the high canopy. The bird life in the forest was amazing. Everywhere she looked something moved or flew across the way. A kingfisher’s bright blue iridescence stood out brightly on a near by branch. A kestrel hawk was hovering above, focusing for food on the ground.
“Mmm,” said Sky, “Watch out for messages hey?” She drank from the stream and savoured its crystal clear taste. As she stood up, the Raven flew into the forest away from the stream. Sky followed it again and it took her into the forest about 20 metres before they came to a complete stop. It was all undergrowth, beautifully set amongst huge trees and tree ferns.
They came to a small area where she could swing her arms and, after looking around, it was clear that she couldn’t go on any further.
“Well Raven, I’m not sure what you’re up to, but I think you’ve led me on a wild goose chase.” The girl sat down on a tree log and looked around.
She was almost surrounded by layers of vines that were hanging high up from a tree. They were all sizes and lengths, and seemed to go up forever amidst giant leaves and ferns. The vines twisted and curled and she studied it all, finding lots of tiny spiral ends and curly bits.
“This is excellent!” She said, delighted about the find. “These are so cute! I could use that on a nut and make a tiny cup! Actually, I could make all sorts of little miniatures with these…” She proceeded to fill her backpack up with dry curly vines.
She noticed some unusual gumnuts stuck in between the vines so she endeavoured to pull the branch out from its vine-entangled trap.
The vines weren’t all that stable and they moved as she pulled the cluster of nuts out. As she did this she noticed that she could make a hole big enough to climb through, which backed on to a large tree trunk.
Sky pushed her way through the ferns and vines that lay near the tree trunk. It took her quite a while, but she managed to find her way to an opening she could see ahead. It was quite a large opening and very pretty, with wild flowers and a small pool of water. A tiny stream trickled its way into the decorated pond. Sky looked at the surroundings with appreciation in her eyes. She stepped forward, tripping on a tree root, and was suddenly sprawled on the ground and face to face with a lizard, that was about a foot long.
Sky knew that when people saw lizards it meant that they should listen to their dreams. Her mother, Fran had read that out to her recently from the medicine cards. These particular medicine cards were created from the beliefs of the Elders of many Native American tribes. She pondered for a moment on the flying dream she’d had, still quite comically staring into the lizard’s eyes. It flickered its tongue and took off into the forest.
Rubbing her knee and picking herself off the ground, she turned around to look at the tree that seemed to be quite large.
She got the shock of her life when she realised that she had stumbled across the largest tree trunk she had ever seen in her life! It looked like a eucalyptus tree but the size of it was hard to comprehend. It was easily the width of their house, and that was just the trunk! It had beautiful designs stretching up the trunk to massive boughs about five metres above the ground. Foliage, tree branches, vines and other forestry plants did a good job of covering it up but there was no doubt about its size.
The Raven had found its way in and sat looking at her, cawing its delight in getting her there so easily.
Sky stood staring at the tree trunk in absolute awe. She wondered if her grandma knew about this tree and stepped forward to touch it. Stretching her arms out, she gave it a warm hug. A warm breeze seemed to blow in her face making her hair move, and goose bumps rise on her arms and neck, yet it was as still as could be. It was a gorgeous trunk full of colourful bark and knots. An ant colony worked its way up the trunk, giving her the thought of actually climbing it.
The full size of the tree was camouflaged from all of the foliage it gave out. Sky tried in several places to see but leaves obstructed her view.
She stepped up on a knot in the tree trunk to move a bunch of leaves. This wasn’t high enough, so she looked again and found another foot hold and moved up the tree. It didn’t matter how many upward steps she took, she couldn’t see her way clearly. The foliage of gum leaves and the invasion of other tree foliage was so thick and caught up in vines of all kinds that she could hardly see much at all. But her heart was set on seeing how high she could climb and so went forth to find out! Up she went with thoughts of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ tapping at her brain.
“Well, I bet the beanstalk wasn’t this big!” She puffed, and stopped to rest. “This tree certainly is big enough for a giant to live in though!” Looking down she noticed that she couldn’t see the ground at all; just a mass of leaves and entwined vines. She decided that this was a very unusual eucalyptus tree indeed and looked at its structure. It was so big that the amount of branches that came off it was unthinkable for a eucalypt, and yet the trunk just kept going up and up.
She tried to climb around the tree to see how long it would take but found it too difficult. The size of the boughs dwarfed her and made it hard to climb. She looked for places where she could hold on to vines, young branches and legions in the bark to step up on.
It seemed that the further she went the bigger the tree got and she found herself trying to find ways of overcoming the boughs that were towering over her.
She sat against the massive trunk on a massive bough and rested, looking out at the scene before her.
A gathering of huge branches stretched out and crossed over each other and then got lost in layers of thick foliage. She noticed that the branches had a layer of moss collecting on them. Sky thought it was rather lovely.
“It looks more like a park,” she said out loud and got up to see where it would take her. All the while the Raven kept her in view, like a silent guide.
Birds were becoming more noticeable everywhere and louder in song. It was like they were gathering in excitement! Beautifully coloured insects were becoming more visible and butterflies fluttered through, landing on the leaves and the moss for moisture. She walked down the bough taking in the sheer size of its perimeter. The giant gum leaves and other branches made the journey interesting. She came to a mossy clearing where she felt it would be a lovely place to sit and rest again. She found a very comfortable area and sat down. Listening to the birds and the sounds of nature was very relaxing, and she stared into the foliage around herself. It was like being in a beautiful magical dream. In fact, she decided that it must be a dream and that she would wake up soon.
“I wonder if grandma ever knew about this tree? Thank you Raven! You really did know, didn’t you?”
The Raven cawed once more and flew off into the forest.
“Oh no! Don’t go Raven!” She called out, but he was gone.
Sky’s excitement was building and she thought she might go up the bough a little further before heading back to tell her grandmother. Before Sky had finished standing up properly, something small tapped her on the head. Looking down she discovered it was a tiny gumnut. She noticed them in bunches dotted around the foliage. She studied the gumnut and went to straighten herself out when she was hit with a small shower of them. It didn’t hurt for they were only tiny, but they made her look up. ‘Must be a bird or an animal collecting food,’ she thought, and went to step forward again. But then she was showered with a whole heap of them!
“Goodness!” She said, as she tried to pluck them out of her hair. “What is going on up there?” She asked herself, and headed up a neighbouring branch to go further up. She thought it was like walking in the park on a quiet day, and smiled at how pleasant it was up in the treetops in this lush surrounding with life galore around her.
Up she went to the branches above her where new growth and gumnuts were plentiful. Down the branch a little further would bring her about level with where she was standing below. It came to a false dead end made with a mass of gum leaves.
She stood and looked at it for a moment before venturing forth to move the leaves out of the way. As she held her hand out the leaves shook slightly.
“Oh, there’s a bird in there I’ll bet.” She went to move the large leaves again. This time it shook quite vigorously. Sky stepped back a little unsure what to do next. She wondered suddenly if it really was a bird. What else could it be?

Nutlidge ~ Chapter Three

Chapter Three

A Nutty Discovery

All of a sudden the gum leaves parted and Sky was staring into two blinking white eyes! They were hosting a huge nose and feathery hair. Its face was kind of lumpy, and it was upside down.
As quickly as it had popped out it hid itself again. The sudden happening caused a whole pile of tiny nuts to fall on the floor at her feet. The first thing she noticed was that all the little gumnuts weren’t the same. There were a variety of them. Her thoughts on this moved fast and she realised that whatever it was had just lost half of its bagful.
“Wait! Hold on a minute!” She said, trying to gather them up at her feet. “I think you’ve dropped your nuts!”
She didn’t see the creature peering from around a bunch of gumnuts to her left. It hid again, slowly peering out from another position. As Sky stood waiting for some sort of reply, the creature changed its peeping position quite drastically, as if it was a monkey swinging around a tree. Sky caught sight of it and tried to follow its movements with her eyes.
“Hello, would you like me to help you with your gumnuts?” Then there was silence. Nothing moved.
“Are you still there?” She called again.
All of a sudden, a large gum leaf up in front of her shook once and before she could think again, the creature fell from the leaves head first onto the floor in front of her.
It looked terribly funny and Sky was half laughing and half shocked. But the little creature jumped up from embarrassment and composed itself in a very shy sort of way. He rubbed his head and put his nut cap back on.
Sky couldn’t believe her eyes!
There stood the cutest little creature she had ever seen or even imagined. He was only about eight centimetres tall. It looked like he was made up of some of the nuts and seedpods she had in her collection at home, with a kurrajong pod for his body and a cyprus pine nut for his head. He had a chickpea nose and his hair was feathery. It fluffily and floatily protruded from under a long seedpod cap, which bent over at the tip.
He had stick legs, big boat feet and a long tail. He was dressed in a feather covering his front, and had a tiny gumnut drink bottle hanging from a twine belt. She was peering down at him. He was looking up at her, and she seemed a hundred times bigger than him, and his knees began to tremble.
Sky sat down on the branch and tried to make herself smaller. “It’s alright,” she said gently, “I’m not going to hurt you,” and smiled at him.
The scared look on his face began to change to a more curious one. He suddenly got excited, realising that she was a friendly creature, and he jumped up and caught a small twig in his tail. He did a somersault or two before hanging upside down for a moment.
Sky began to giggle. “Look at you! You’re so cute!”
The little nut person somersaulted off the twig onto the bough and cleared his throat. “Wow! You are the biggest fairy I’ve ever seen! Pleased to meet you! I’m a Nutley and my name’s Curley. What’s yours?”
“Sky. Pleased to meet you.” She shook his tiny hand gently. He was only a young nut person, ‘probably only about nine or ten years old,’ thought Sky. It was a little hard to tell.
“I couldn’t help notice that you’ve lost your wings!” He said pointing to the absence of them. Is there anything I can do?”
Sky giggled, “I’m not a fairy, although I wouldn’t mind being one for a day. No, I’m a Human. I’m visiting my grandma, and this tree’s in her garden. I can’t believe this is happening!”
“But how did you get up here?” He asked.
“Well, I climbed up.” She replied, thinking this was obvious.
The little nut boy looked at her curiously. He had heard about humans but had never met one. His knowledge of humans wasn’t all that positive, but he kept an open mind.
“Um, well, would you like to come up and meet my Pop; he’s just up the branches a little.”
Sky looked in surprise, “Really! You mean there are more of you here?”
“Yup!” He nodded, picking up his gumnuts at the same time, “There are lots of us, come on, follow me, and I’ll take you.”
He got a head start, but he led her further up the tree, swinging from twig to twig like a spider monkey. She couldn’t help laughing at him, because he was very comical indeed.
They went up the tree quite a way before they stopped.
Curley scratched his head, “Well he was here, he must have gone further up,” and continued on his way.
“Curley,” said Sky trying to keep up with him, “Does your Pop collect nuts too?”
“Oh yes!” He said, swinging his way towards her a little and speaking in between somersaults. “I am collecting things to help him make natural teas.”
“Really! You mean he’s a doctor?” She replied, stepping over a rather large twisted vine.
“Well, actually he’s a herbal alchemist.” Said Curley stopping on his feet for a moment.
“That’s even more cool! Um, hold on, what about all the nuts you dropped, don’t you want a hand to gather them up?”
“No it’s alright thank you. I think my Pop will be more interested in you than my gatherings today.” He swung himself over and around another large vine and walked with her a little, adjusting his cocoon bag as he went.
As they went up the tree’s great bough, Sky noticed that there was more and more moss. It was like walking on grass, and the walkways were lined with tiny flowers and mushrooms. Bunches of gumnuts she saw on her way were all different.
“This tree is amazing, it’s got all sorts of gumnuts and flowers growing in it,” said Sky, picking a tiny blue flower.
“It is a very magical tree. It’s older than time itself you know!”
He stopped for a moment and looked at her with a smile on his face. Just then another voice called out, “Curley! Curley where are you?” A taller and older nut man swung out from the gum leaves landing perfectly on his feet and carrying a large bag of gatherings.
He only caught sight of his young one from the angle he came in on, and came to a stop in front of him. Sky was standing behind the older nutley.
“Curley, where have you been? I’ve been calling you for ages! I was beginning to think you had missed a branch and fallen down the tree!”
“It’s okay Pop, I’ve been talking to Sky here. Let me introduce you…” He gestured towards Sky. As his father turned around he got the shock of his life and shot up the tree like a jack in the box! He came back down, composing himself and straightening his half moon glasses.
“Ahem. Well, my goodness! Er, you’re a size! Ha! Well, well! Pleased to meet you Sky. My name is Galley Mum… I mean Badly Done… Oh! I mean, Malley Gum!” As he straightened his specs up again he held his hand out for her to shake it.
Sky giggled.
“Sky’s a human Pop, she climbed up the tree,” Curley told him excitedly.
“Well. Yes! It certainly looks that way, and what an adventurous soul you are! Can I invite you up for tea perhaps?”
“Oh that would be nice, thank you,” Sky replied and followed them up the tree bough, trying to imagine what size their cups might be.
The tree had become even more like a beautiful garden with flowers and shrubs growing from the moss. It was quite bright and very lush.
They came upon what looked like someone’s garden setting with all sorts of flowers and vines and shrubs growing in a delightful manner. Then they came to the tree trunk, which had the most gorgeous little doorway. The same as the one Sky had seen her dream! The door was the shape of a big gumnut and the handle was a golden gumnut. She had been grinning and feeling so excited that her cheek muscles began to hurt.
Malley Gum asked her to wait for a moment and excused himself while he fetched something. She could hear water running and enquired about its source.
“Oh, we have our own natural streams here,” Curley replied happily. “The tree is so tall it creates its own rainfall. Over the centuries it’s gouged some great waterways into the tree. It has its own ecosystem.”
“Wow! That’s awesome,” said Sky, fully understanding what he was talking about. “We just learned about that at school.”
Malley Gum emerged from the doorway carrying the largest vessel he could find. He had used a large gumnut that was normally used for their water jug. “I hope you don’t mind drinking some tea from this? I have made it quite strong.”
It was all the same to Sky, she took the cup, which would have fit over her thumb and thanked him for the drink.
“Now,” he said to her, “I have put some of my herbal potion of ‘Changeabilitea’ in there. I’m sure you would like to be the same size as us while you are visiting?”
Sky just nodded, suddenly convinced that she must be dreaming! She did as he instructed and poured the Changeabilitea under her tongue and held it there while she thought of becoming smaller. Instantly, she saw glittering movement of circling purple and blue mist and she shrank down to the same size as Curley within seconds.
“Wicked!” She said, grinning from ear to ear as she looked at herself in amazement. Of course, the tree seemed to become even more ginormous!
Curley and his Pop looked at each other briefly at her reaction.
“How do I get back to my normal size again?” asked Sky.
“When you are ready, I shall give you another drink of this and you only have to think of being your normal size and it shall be so… Now Sky, may I invite you in for a more sociable cup of tea?”
“Yes please! Oh this is so exciting,” she replied, and followed her new friends into the tree house, hardly being able to contain the excitement she felt.
Sky took a deep breath when she got through the doorway. It was just incredible.
They had walked into a huge round room with poles, or tree veins, left here and there in between the different sections of their house. She saw a food preparation area with a cutting block near the front doorway. Surrounding it was net shelving crammed full of fruits, nuts, berries, and all sorts of teas. Countless little bags hung from the netting with labels on them. The table and chairs in the eating area were made from bark and sticks, all exquisitely carved and designed to accompany their tails as they sat. The wooden shelves along the wall both sides of the doorway were packed with gumnuts of all shapes and sizes. There were bottles with caps, cups, dishes, mugs, teapots and urns, and more food stocks. There were also dried flowers and herbs hanging from the ceiling, and an array of dried roots, seeds and green gumnuts of all varieties. The windows were carved out of the trunk also, and you could see a little way up the branch from the washbasin near the front door. The place was crammed with nutty cupboards and drawers spilling over with alchemist’s tools and paper scrolls. There were beautiful pot plants everywhere.
They led her into the sitting area where the lounge chair was a silkworm cocoon stuffed with feathers. A few smaller ones were made into cushions. There were sketches in round frames on the wall capturing elder relatives and special people. They also had a piano of sorts, a writing desk, and half dozen quills in a pot on top of it and little ornaments of crystal and stone decorated the room.
“It’s just gorgeous,” said Sky as she walked around the circular house. The three bedrooms all had their own four-poster beds draped with spider webs and beads. They were separated from each other with beautifully painted silk hangings. There were matching side tables and chairs, clothes hanging behind curtains, and a variety of feather attire. The mirrors in each room were made out of beetle wings and there were various pictures on the walls.
The curtains and cushions throughout the house were a variety of fabrics, from silk curtains which had also been hand painted, to woven feathers, to what looked like thick cotton type prints. Sky was mind boggled with all this. She pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Curley came running around the curtain, swung onto his top bed frame bar and somersaulted onto his bed. “You can stay with us for the night if you like.” he said excitedly.
“Thanks Curley, but I must get back, my grandma will wonder where I am.”
“Aw nuts.” said Curley, disappointed for just a moment before letting her know that tea was served. She was led back to the eating area where she sat down and thanked Malley for her drink once again.
“Sorry to have left you halfway through the tour, my last herb batch has just finished brewing.”
“That’s fine really! I love your house, it’s gorgeous!” Replied Sky looking around still and trying not to miss anything.
“Ah well, we have to give Florrel the credit for the trimmings. That is my partner, and Curley’s mum. She is off out collecting mushroom at the fungi farm, and won’t be back for a while,” said Malley, putting his cup in front of him and sitting down to join them.
“Well Sky! This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. It must be like a dream to you. How are you feeling?”
“Oh I feel great! It’s the best dream I’ve ever had. I finally got to go through the door!” She beamed.
Malley could see that she hadn’t realised yet that this wasn’t a dream! He was keen on introducing her to his friend, Yellow Flower.
“Well, we don’t get too many humans up here,” he said. “The last one was a young boy back in the 1800s. He spent a few years coming up here as a child but the older he got the less we saw of him until he stopped coming altogether. We never saw him again. Pity, he was such a nice young lad. From what I remember, he was quite brave too.”
“That might have been my great-great-great-great grandfather, Edward Lawson! He brought the land all those years ago when he grew up and it’s been in the family ever since.”
“Well I must say your family has done a great job in keeping this forest together all these years. It’s a great thing that they have done for our people and the animals.”
“Are there a lot of your people here in the tree?” Sky inquired.
Malley Gum looked at Curley and said with a smile on his unusual face. “What do you say Curley, should we show our guest around?”
“Great idea! Let’s go!” He flipped himself over on the spot to show his excitement. He took off outside and whistled an unusual tune while Malley grabbed his cocoon bag and showed Sky out the door.

Nutlidge ~ Chapter Four

Chapter Four

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.