People’s Park: Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Fight or a little flight? My family and I disagreed on how to best settle differences during a family vacation in Tasmania.

By Dulce Zamora

My husband, Noel, and I had a silent fight today. Earlier this morning, we disagreed on how to deal with our 9-year-old daughter’s tantrum. He wanted to tell her off. I thought it best to let everyone cool off before further discussion. This happened while I was in the shower. I asked Noel to come to the bathroom so we could talk about it. He refused. That upset me.

After we got dressed, we rushed out of our cottage rental even with a crying kid in tow. We only had two full days in Strahan, a town just inside the Macquarie Harbour in Northwest Tasmania. It was already 11 o’clock and all we had done was have breakfast.

On this particular day we went to People’s Park which had a short trail leading to Hogarth Falls. People’s Park had an arched entrance bearing its name. I walked past the arch in a huff, eager to put some space between me, Noel, and my two preteen daughters. The crying had stopped but both my kids were now whining about having to walk.

Small stones crunched beneath our feet. The gravelly dirt path led the way to a wooden plank covered with a green carpet. It felt more like a red carpet welcome into the rainforest.

A few families passed us by, either in silence or laughing together. I wondered whether they mostly got along. Since we began our trip a week ago, we’d had our fair share of bickering and complaining.

I stopped to read a placard describing the flora around us. School kids had drawn pictures of fish-bone water fern. The fronds looked like fish skeletons. Never knew there were many different kinds of ferns. A few steps later, a sign described hardwater ferns. I started noticing the various fronds around me.

We were in a temperate rainforest. As the name indicated, temperate rainforests are generally cool while tropical ones are warm and moist. The forest was teeming with ferns, eucalyptus, sassafras, mushrooms, downed trees, lichen, and a bunch of other stuff all tangled together. It was breathtaking and fragrant in its chaos. Yet, knowing forest ecosystems, I knew that everything here likely had a purpose. Even the dead leaves and trunks fed the creatures and plants around them.

The girls found a partially dry riverbed with a jumble of fallen trees framing clear wet ponds. They tried to skip stones on the water, giggling about their mixed results. Noel and I separately took photos of the picturesque scene.

I got into snapping close-up images of the plant life around me. Each one had its own beauty. They coexisted in apparent harmony. Of course there were probably battles for space and dominance. But, to an impartial observer, this mess looked perfect in its imperfection.

I wondered whether people could be like that. To be contrary yet complementary. Offbeat yet harmonious. Distinctive yet cohesive. Could we all be different and still get along? I wanted to think so, but in real life, it often it felt like a fantasy. Even my husband and I could not get along.

As we approached the waterfalls, sweet wafts of pine, eucalyptus, and licorice greeted us. I think the licorice scent came from the sassafras trees. We took a family selfie despite protests from the kids that we took too many photos.

We headed back to car, with the girls stopping to skip stones at the water again. They also began to fish for stones, and found a fossilized rock. I took more photos, taking note of the patterns and intricate details I would have missed had I just walked by with a happy family.

Noel and the kids huddled together. When they broke up, I saw him holding a bouquet of yellow wildflowers. He gave them to me with a nervous grin. I couldn’t help but smile even though we still had not resolved our differences. What can I say? I’m a sucker for wildflowers.

The girls giggled. Happy ever after? Hardly. But, a bit of space, nature, and meditative diversion proved to be a soothing balm for the moment. A truce. Maybe, just maybe, cooling off before further discussion was a good idea? 😉

© 2019 WindsweptWildflower

People’s Park, Strahan, Tasmania

January 2, 2019

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