A weak sun lit the campsite. Fresh animal droppings were the only obvious sign of visitors. Henk leaned out of his tent to look beyond the patch of forest and into the scrub. The dewy bushes were draped in careless strands of web. To call them spider webs would be to make a silk purse of them. There seemed no pattern to them, let alone the perfect spiral symmetry spiders were supposed to have embedded in what passed for their brains. Instead every branch or stem seemed to be connected to the next by this random optimism of a million spiders. And it worked! The webs obviously worked, because every path Henk had taken to get there was criss-crossed with spider strands.
He’d come to realise that in this country, messiness worked. Or at least what he had taken for messiness. Every square yard of the bush was literally crawling with life. It didn’t fit with European notions of beauty, but did that make it ugly? This beholder's eye had come to see its sly beauty. He appreciated its wild fecundity, every prickle, stick or bud with its own grace and purpose. Time and isolation the parents of unique and ingenious survival.
Most of his own people had never seen this. From Abel Tasman on they had really only been visitors. Even those who lived a lifetime here had been tourists not natives. And they had brought up their children in the same way. But the Dutch weren't alone in this. He thought of the English. Hah, the English! Who looked on eucalypt forest as grey, monotonous and fearful. Those early explorers were tourists too, hating the bush for not being park-like, for not having the deciduous beauty of their motherland.