[Walk – 13 April 2017]
We had promised a walk to the lakeside. Despite the children’s determination to get to the lake, they still moved slowly, distracted by various sightings on the way. Many were keen to point out changes they noticed since our last walk.
One child rushed over to tell us that the Golden Orb spider was gone, and when we looked closely we could see that there was nothing more than a few strands of web remains.
Others ran to the exact spot where tiny, delicate mushrooms had been spotted previously, only to be disappointed to find they had gone. Fungi nonetheless still featured on this walk, and it wasn’t long before there were exclamations of ‘look, look mushrooms … lots of mushrooms!’. These mushrooms were mostly old and decaying, but nonetheless intriguing.
The sighting of a small group of ducks near the water’s edge drew the children’s attention and hastened their arrival at the lakeside. Knowing how easily the ducks are frightened, they restrained their desire to rush and tiptoed towards them. Once we arrived under the soft, drooping branches of the foreshore Casuarinas, the children settled in to the environs of the waters’ edge. This was the first time this group of children had been to this part of the lakeside before. They were soon collecting feathers, navigating the slippery moss at the water’s edge and ‘fishing’ with sticks – repeating the previous group’s favourite patterns of activities.
Once again, the combination of sticks and water seemed to offer a compelling invitation for the children to pause and connect with underwater life.
Unexpectedly, a swan glided up through the reeds and startled the children by coming within a few metres. This provoked much discussion: Look a swan! I think its looking for its baby.
After the walk, when the children recalled this chance meeting, they responded with many excited ‘swan’ noises.
On our walks we have at times stumbled across a variety of ephemeral, almost whimsical, human-made installations. This walk was no exception. As the children ran off calling to each other ‘Come on, let’s go to the next forest’, they soon slowed as they entered the next stand of trees. Several curious artefacts came to light. One woven reed structure had been constructed the same height as the children’s heads, so they could walk under it and imagine what it might be. The children’s speculative musings stretched from spiders to washing lines: Someone made this. It looks like a spider web. … Maybe it is used for washing. It could be for washing.
As we headed back to the Centre, the children noticed an interesting tree. At first, it wasn’t quite clear why it was so striking, and only on closer inspection did we discover it was ‘half dead and half alive’.
Even more intriguing, in between the two trunks – one of which seemed clearly dead and the other alive – was a third with some newly sprouting leaves.
The children seemed to sense a certain ambiguity as to whether the tree was living or dying as they reached out to gently touch the textures on the trunks.
As a couple of the children climbed through the lower branches, another heeded ‘Be careful. You might take all the skin off it’. This reference to the shedding bark captured a sense of vulnerability that seemed to surround this otherwise imposing and tall eucalypt.