This Week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

WRITING Will you take the risk?

READING The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

GOING back to school

LEARNING some interesting things about Gen Z and Gen Alpha (our current students) and Creative and Critical Thinking at some Professional Development sessions.

ENJOYING having my children back from their overseas holiday (except for the feral jet lagged fighting)

WATCHING Julie and Julia with Lucy

SKETCHING and enjoying the good company and warm sunshine at Carriageworks, Redfern.

Will you take the risk?

By Vita Forest

Lots of good things happened this week.  This is one of them.

Our final dress rehearsal before the audition for a big interschool production was scheduled for Thursday.  On Tuesday we discovered that one of the key players – the girl who was going to read the introduction explaining our piece to the audition panel, was away on holidays and would only arrive back at school next Monday – the day of the audition.  My teaching buddy and I discussed who we could get to fill in for this girl, someone who was in the performance and who hadn’t already got a “special job”.

I thought of Ivan, a Year 6 boy who I had watched run a Peer Support Group.  He had been friendly, firm and had handled the younger kids well.  (Besides this, he seemed to possess a strong, expressive voice that could be clearly heard across the room).  Neither my buddy or I particularly knew Ivan, but we knew he was a nice kid who always tried his best.  He seemed like a good place to start.

I approached Ivan on Tuesday lunchtime carrying the script in my hand, and asked if he would like the job of filling in for the absent girl, with the slight possibility of having to read it for the actual audition.

Ivan wasn’t sure.

I was a bit disconcerted.  I hadn’t expected this.

I explained that I thought he could do a really good job so why didn’t he take the script and look it over?  If he really didn’t want to do it, we would find someone else.  He reluctantly agreed.

The next day I mentioned this encounter to one of the Year 6 teachers.  She stared at me in alarm and told me a different story about Ivan.

Apparently he was prone to anxiety.

Apparently he was not very confident.

Apparently he could get a bit tearful sometimes.

Oh.  No.

Maybe we should have gone with one of the school leaders who speak at every assembly.  Perhaps we should have chosen someone on the Debating team.  But I had wanted to give someone different a chance.  Was this going to be a mistake?

Thursday was the day of the dress rehearsal.  Feeling increasingly worried that I had caused Ivan some major stress, I sought him out at recess time.

Was he ok to read the script in front of everyone?

Yes, he told me.  He had been practising.  He would do it.

After lunch, the kids changed into their costumes and got into their starting positions.  Ivan stepped forward with his script and…

Absolutely nailed it!

He spoke confidently, clearly and with excellent expression.  I gave him the thumbs up.

The principal went and got us “an audience” of five classes of various ages from across the school.  Ivan would now have to speak in front of over one hundred people.

Again he did a fantastic job.  We continued on with the rehearsal.

Later Ivan told me – public speaking really scares him as he sometimes stutters!

The next day I found his teacher and was telling him the story.  I was in the middle of the story -telling him how I had decided to choose Ivan and give him a go.  He too, like the other Year 6 teacher, immediately looked worried and started to tell me he didn’t know whether Ivan would be a good choice – he didn’t know it had already happened!  I told him how great Ivan had been.  I told him how I hadn’t known Ivan had a stutter.  His teacher was thrilled to hear of his success.

I love these times when a kid steps up, takes a risk and really shines.  I hope Ivan will always remember how brave he was that day.  I hope he will recall how despite feeling terrified, he was able to accomplish something wonderful.  I hope it gives him confidence.

Sometimes we go to school to teach the kids.  Sometimes we get taught by them.

 

This Week

By Vita Forest

Beautiful bush at Castlecrag

This week I have been

WRITING

READING The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein (lovely).

WATCHING The Handmaid’s Tale (not lovely but excellent).

WALKING in Castlecrag with Saskia and Rowdy (beautiful)

Waterfall, Castlecrag


SKETCHING at Sydney Hospital (I was not in the zone…)

FIXING up my classroom, ready for the new term.

KNITTING a cowl.

GETTING ready to go back to school.

Tree ferns, Castlecrag

We need that girl

By Vita Forest


While carrying a bag of cat litter through the supermarket

I was startled when three pigeons swooped up

the Jams and Spreads Aisle

Over the Fruit and Veg

And across to the Frozen Food section.

 

Three birds!

In this underground supermarket!

Taking off and flying over the shelves in formation

As if migrating together over rows of tall buildings

All the same height.

 

And I thought

How did they get in?

And I thought

How will they get out?

 

And I thought

We need that girl from school

That wide-eyed uncertain girl

peering sideways, talking hesitantly

But she certainly knew what to do

That time on playground duty when a group of breathless girls

Ran to report

A mynah bird in the classroom!

It couldn’t get out!

 

I advised opening blinds and windows

And carefully herding it toward freedom.

But this girl, this uncertain girl

Marched into the classroom

Swooped down on the anxious mynah

Cradled it in her hands

Walked determinedly outside

And released it.

“Wow!” I thought

(“She has chickens,” I was told.)

 

But today

we need that girl again.

In the underground supermarket

Can someone make the announcement on the loudspeaker please?

She is needed in Aisle 12

Near the Frozen Fruit.

 

 

Walk to One Tree Hill Lookout in Numbers

By Vita Forest

  • 20km drive to Hall from Fleur’s home.
  • 5.4km walk to the lookout each way.
  • Maximum of 9 degrees Celsius, but colder with the wind at the top.
  • 2 walkers –  Fleur and Vita.
  • 2 mountain bikes working their way down the steep undulating section at the beginning of the track, making us stand to the side.
  • 1 rusty-roofed shed seen from the track.

  • 1 stile to climb over.
  • 1 heavy gate to open and lock again so the cows wouldn’t get out.
  • 15 large propellers on the windfarm on the horizon (past Lake George near Bugendore).
  • 3 crimson rosellas swinging on a the lighter twigs of a gum tree.
  • 2 young men walking to the soundtrack of the music blaring from their phone (they were very friendly though).
  • 2 young women who assured us we were “nearly there”.

  • 4 cattle grids to cross.
  • 2 jumpers peeled off along the way (we got hot!)
  • 20 kangaroos high on a hill, silently watching us and leaping away again when they saw they had been spotted.
  • 3 cows on the hill.

  • 1 stop at the bottom of the final climb where the following was observed:
    • sheep
    • cows
    • kangaroos (the world was suddenly full of animals that we hadn’t noticed until we paused).
  • 2 bananas consumed before the final climb, their skins folded up and carefully placed back inside the lunchbox.
  • 1 boy who was being the cheer squad for his mother climbing up the steep steps to the top of the lookout “Come on!  Two minutes to go!  Nearly there!” (Personally, I would have told him to leave me alone…)
  • 100 – the number underneath “Canberra” at the final lookout.  Obviously built as part of Canberra’s centenary.

  • 1 state and
  • 1 territory seen from the lookout.
  • More than 1 tree seen from One Tree Hill Lookout.  Which was the one?

  • Many flocks of fairy wrens scuttling in the undergrowth, alighting momentarily on logs and branches and balancing on the wire that stretched between fence posts marking the boundary between the track and “Private Property”.
  • 1 lone kangaroo crashing through the trees and disappearing into the bush again.
  • 1 instance of rain on the way back – made us walk a little faster.

  • 3 hours return with a couple of stops for food and many for photo opportunities.
  • 4 tired legs.
  • 2 burgers inhaled after the walk at a very late lunch.  Perhaps the best meal ever!

This week

By Vita Forest

The Grounds of Alexandria


This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales 8: in which Christabel becomes aware of an unusual weather system

READING 

  • SuperFudge by Judy Blume
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (strange combination of books hey? Both good reads!)

SKETCHING and WANDERING and SIPPING coffee at The Grounds of Alexandria 


VISITING 

  • The dentist!
  • The AGNSW in NAIDOC week and seeing the exhibition Sentient Lands


  • South Curl Curl with Betty
  • Canberra to see Fleur

WALKING 

  • Along the headlands of Curl Curl with Betty.
  • With Saskia and Rowdy for a couple of night-time debriefs.
  • To One Tree Hill Lookout near Canberra with Fleur.

SEEING kangaroos, fairy wrens, crimson rosellas, galahs (amongst the native fauna) and cows and sheep (amongst the non-native).

CHATTING to my kids on the other side of the world.

Mobile Tales 8: in which Christabel becomes aware of an unusual weather system

By Vita Forest

One fine, balmy morning (was there really any other kind?) Christabel La Mouse peered out from The Good Ship Possession, through the far distant headlands of The Doorway and into The Kitchen.  There was strange metallic box therein to which she was often alerted by the rumbling and humming it made.  She believed it was called The Refrigerator.

The Refrigerator was a cheerful thing that kept up a steady stream of conversation.  Unfortunately, the language was quite unknown to Christabel, so she had to make do with sending a cheery wave its way and the occasional call of “Yoo Hoo!”  It was unclear whether The Refrigerator was aware of such communications, but it seemed happy enough as it gurgled and hummed and droned and whirred.

And happy it should be, for it seemed to be the home of much of the food in The Kitchen, and in particular, The Cheese.  Many was the time that Christabel would be distracted from her lookout post by the flash of light that signalled the opening of The Refrigerator and the accompanying waft of cheddar or parmesan.

But on this particular fine and balmy morning, Christabel was aware of a cloud of white that was buzzing over the pewter grey surface of The Refrigerator.  It shimmered as if alive.  Whatever could it be?


Her curiosity was piqued, necessitating this myopic mouse to withdraw her spyglass from its case and place it up to her right eye.  She twisted its segmented body this way and that, until the shimmering cloud sharpened into focus and to her astonishment turned into a cloud of words!  A cloud of words!  Whoever had heard of such a thing!  (It was true that her own vessel was formed from the pages of a novel but a cloud of words?  Was there really weather systems created by language?  Storms of similes?  Gentle patterings of adjectives?  A sudden flash of metaphor??)

As she watched, one of The Humans stood in front of The Refrigerator and peeled small rectangles from inside the cloud and arranged them in lines floating above it.

Was it a message?  She waited patiently until a number of words were thus arranged (and also for the large head to move out of the way so she could see).

What did it say?  Christabel swung the spyglass from right to left and read:

shadow ship soar over a smooth lazy lake

How lovely!  Then

watch above though

stop the spray heave & rip & blow

Wise advice indeed.  Then

live sweet summer honey music

It only needed an exclamation mark…

And there it ended.


Christabel felt like clapping, The Refrigerator gurgled and from the depths of The Kitchen, the kettle boiled.

How wonderful it was to discover new delights to monitor from her ship on the ceiling!   The world was certainly full of wonder.