Written by Shirly
The weather was, not too co-operative with our plans to take the Pre-School Morning (PSM) group out for a Nature Walk. This being August in Goa we should not be surprised. But thanks to Deepali’s warrior-discipline and the helping hands of the team—Vandana, Barkha, Jewel, Nidhi’s mother, Ria’s father and Tapasya, we managed.
Raincoats on, umbrellas ready and we stood on the portico of Bookworm library. Only I and the five older children had neither an umbrella or a raincoat. So, we decided to do some magic and send the rain away for a while. We closed our eyes and chanted but the rain did not seem to get the message. More waiting and finally, a no-rain break!
A magical yellow ribbon was brought out and everyone was asked to hold on to it with their right hand and walk on.We marched to the tune of gurgling gutters, leaped over puddles—-Deepali promptly reminded all about the puddles they had drawn the last week. Crossed the churchyard and right across the road in Taleigao was Mr Bosco’s farm. He was all welcome.Guinea fowls, barking-yet-tail wagging dog, Chickoo, Mango, and many other fruit trees, Pineapple bushes, and handfuls of sprouted paddy grain —it was a little too much to take in such a short spell of time, I suppose. But take in we did.
And Deepali, true to our theme of seeds and sprouting and nurture, kept up the refrain of ‘What do trees sprout from?’ ‘How do they grow?’, ‘What do they need?’
Deepali kept encouraging them to look around, gather a few dry objects and try to recognise the fruit trees. How do you recognise a fruit tree in a book? May be because it is also written there. Or because that particular fruit is hanging painted on its branches—all ripe and colourful and in abundance. But if one goes to a farm when the fruit is not in season and there are no written or painted clues, one has to be more observant. And that is exactly what Deepali got the children to do, to observe more carefully, to smell the crushed leaves and to feel the texture of the tree trunk.
On our way back, we lingered under the Tamarind tree in the churchyard and gathered specimens of the seeds in varying stages of germination. This, put in paper cups filled with earth, and one miniature paddy field from the grains given by the farmer, we hope will constitute our collaborative work.
Guided by the same magic yellow ribbon, we returned to the library and all were in need of some nourishment.
Deepali managed to get us all together and clean the ‘treasures ‘gathered and let the children make a stick’n’leaf paper plate wreath to take home. The parents were already there to retrieve their young precious ones. I was happy to note that nobody made a fuss about getting wet or having to leap over/walk through puddles. Not even the slightly menacing expression of the guinea fowl created a negative response..
The parents that had come along with us for the walk were so patient and co-operative.
The Bookworm team just rose up to the rain-challenge and adapted their schedule. A fair balance between freedom and practical restraints seem to be working out.
We were all so involved and alive to the responses and tried to affirm the children’s joy of exploration. But it is to be noted that here there is scope for much more.
Listening is the key. We did. And gleaned some wisdom:
Eg.Vedant 🙁 referring to a figure seen inside the church)
“Look at that churchman!”
Uday : “An owl, an owl,no it is a kite because it’s flying”
The pearls of wisdom were available in plenty and our job seemed to be just to be around and string them together with a very caring string. The feeling of togetherness as we stood in the small gazebo-like structure outside the church and singing to the rain to give us a respite, it was magical. The children seemed to have that knack of just being there and enjoying the atmosphere whether it was the sun or rain. I felt that being with them somehow made me more ‘then and there’. Also we were walking WITH the children rather than TAKING the children walking.
And thank you each and everyone in the visible and invisible web, for this lovely experience. And hats off to Deepali and Sujata!