[Walk – 27 April 2017]
We decided to walk to a different place today – to the lakeside cove due east of the Centre. We’d noticed before that lots of water birds often hang out in this cove.
As soon as we arrived, the children spotted a pair of swans standing on a grassed area by the lake’s edge. As we got closer, they noticed that there was something curiously different about one of the swans. It only had one leg. This prompted much discussion: Swans don’t have one leg. Swans have two legs. They never, ever have one leg. Never, ever.
Despite having only one leg, the swan was perfectly balanced, occasionally pecking at the grass and at other times looking up at the inquisitive children. Taking all this in, the children started to wonder how the swan could have lost its other leg.
They started talking to the swans: ‘Hello Hello’ they chorused, slightly mimicking the swans’ honking tones.
A couple of the children began to mimic the one-legged swan: I’ve got one leg. I can balance on one leg. This quickly caught on, and soon all of the children were trying to balance like the one-legged swan.
In the midst of all the action and excitement, the swan quietly put down its concealed second leg. Oh! Look! It’s got two legs! It was hiding! It was as if the swan had tricked them. The children laughed and laughed.
As the swans started to walk towards the water, a couple of children noticed that one was scratching itself. This familiar action prompted them to further identify with the swans’ embodiment: ‘I scratch when I get itchy’ and ‘I do too, like when I get a mosquito bite’.
For the rest of our walk the swans paddled in the shallow water, following us along the edge of the lake. Some of the children had noticed the swans pecking at grass earlier, and decided that grass must be what swans like to eat.
They kept feeding grass to the swans at regular points along our walk, explaining ‘Looks like they want more dinner. They want more grass. The wind is blowing it away. They really like it. …. They are still following us.’
The gentle autumn sun made us all feel like staying outside a little longer. Some children lingered by the path, and after spending time finding an ideal ‘writing’ stick, started scratching images and words across the path. Some wrote their names while others drew pictures. I’m drawing a machine, one explained.
Initially, some expressed concern that the drawings would get rubbed out, perhaps because ants, people, tractors might go over it. However, this was only a fleeting concern. Quickly absorbed in the new activity, the children seemed content to work with the dirt path as a temporary surface.
As we headed back, the wind picked up blowing the dust around, already lightening the trace of the children’s markings on the ground.