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  • rosscolliver

Free range kids

Updated: May 9, 2022

More than a few of us had the good fortune of growing up in a world without so many screens, where the suburbs edged up to creeks and we could roam freely in the neighbourhood. That made a difference to our confidence and our capacity to look after ourselves. 'Just be back in time for dinner,' Mum would call as we disappeared.

Alice Miller students getting into the gorse, May 2022

Now the virtual is a big part of the world, and the gritty, muddy, prickly, more-that-human world is a smaller part. Locked in front of screens, the senses and sensibilities of the human animal atrophy, but when we get outside in the open air, we wake ourselves up.

So it was good to be able to host students from Alice Miller school last Friday, and Fridays on from here, to help with clearing the gorse out of the creekline in Barrm Birrm. They used hand tools, not keyboards, and got their hands in the dirt.

With our working bees (next is May 22, see Whats On) and these visits from the students, we're making headway on the gorse in that creek. I made a promise to the creek to clear its burden of gorse, a commitment made after the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report. I thought it would take two or three years: now we might get it done sooner.

Gorse getting, Sunday 8th May 2022. Lydia, Sean, Bailey, Emma, Michael

I did a walk with the students when they arrived, to get oriented. As the weeks progress, we might let them off the leash for more walking around, to get a feel for the land and for the slightly edgy business of finding your way using just your senses.

A setting for a Fred McCubbin painting: 'The Gorse Getters'

So here's a place to dig with tools to help the natural world along, and to receive what is offered in abundance. The terrain is open, there are plenty of tracks, and while the bush looks at first glance to be the same everywhere, the plants are always doing something different, season by season.

It's a place to roam, immersed, happy. And if you lose your way, and can't quite work out how you got where you are, head downhill, and you'll hit Gap Road. You'll find your way home.

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