The Butter Tree

*All photographs by me.

Nights beneath the butter tree,

Days so hot and nights set free;

Leather wings flap over me,

The foxy-bats in ecstasy.

Golden blooms of nectar sweet,

Perfume released by the heat,

Offer wing’d foxes a devilish treat

In the boughs above my seat.

Chirping echoes from the tree,

Their voices calling down to me

Announcing hungry rivalry,

Each flower guarded jealously!

Bickering with sounds of fright

Over the bounty in the height,

Featherless wings take to flight,

Vanishing into the summer night.

*A poem about the flying foxes that used to feed in the tree in my garden many years ago. I have always been fascinated by bats, but these guys really take the cake for enchanting the soul with a thick, rich sweetness that drips. I highly recommend the writings of Deborah Bird Rose about this “odd little kinsman“. So vilified are these ecologically critical more-than-human friends that I wonder with a lot of apprehension and concern what the future holds for them. The fate of so many lives and communities – including our own – are intimately wrapped up and entangled with flying fox lives. If ever you feel the call of flying fox magic, there is nothing I enjoy more in summer than watching the flying fox camp fly out, it’s amazing. You learn so much from watching them, like your mind emerges with the bats, fresh and new and ready. Sometimes I wonder if any of the little guys I have cared for are in there, and how they are doing. Good luck little friends!

One of my Grey Headed Flying Fox friends enjoying her favourite food: nectar!

One of the flying foxes forcibly removed from the Sydney Botanic Gardens, and another of my friends – an orphaned pup rescued from a colony in heat distress. Human disturbance and persecution, along with the impacts of climate change continue to be big challenges to the flourishing of Flying Fox lives.




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