004 Becoming Close(r)

2 September 2019

We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.

Our walks seem to be bringing us close(r) to and with Derbarl Yerrigan and those who we meet there. Weather invited us close(r) to Derbarl Yerrigan, Djenark (Silver Gull), and Rainbow Lorikeet. Weather moved from partly cloudy and a slight breeze, to light rain and cool gusty winds and back again! The tide was high, but we wondered if it was moving out as the beach was visible and accessible.

Water’s ripples were gently moving across the flat surface and sun was peeking out from behind clouds with only the slightest breeze to remind us that is was a cool day (typical of Djilba season). Weather helped us hear Rainbow Lorikeet’s calls. The physical distance between us and palm fronds made it hard for some children to see Rainbow Lorikeet, but their screeches kept us close. We stood below palm tree talking with and about Rainbow Lorikeet; we wondered if one of them was stuck as he hung upside down from the tree, about their nest (could we see one?) and how many Rainbow Lorikeet’s were up in the tree (it sounded like many!).

Soon, Silver Gull swooped in to see us as we were tossing fallen bark from palm tree, river shells, and sand into the river. She came close to us, perhaps because “she thinks it’s food”, or is it maybe that we are more familiar to her now? One of the educators wondered if this is the same Silver Gull who we meet each time we walk with Derbarl Yerrigan and how we could tell? 

Our close encounter with Silver Gull continued as she was offered broken river shells to ‘eat’ by one of the girls. I wondered aloud what was important for Silver Gull in order for her to come nearer, to eat out of our palms. “Does she need us to be still, low to the ground, and quiet?” “Or should we call her over, offering her food?”  How are we becoming close(r), together? Today, we became close(r) by initiating, asking, waiting, hesitating, reading bodies, and respecting. These are new practices and doings that challenge the desire to know immediately.

As we continued walking  the weather changed, with wind picking up and rain starting to fall. I wonder if being somewhat wet with rain already was an invitation for one of the girls to go deeper into Derbarl Yerrigan than they had ever been before. Or is there a trusting relationship developing between the river and ourselves that is easing the worry of children going in “too far”? Derbarl Yerrigan safely led her out to waist depth, where she often paused, took in a sudden surprised breath and let out giggles as she rushed back into shore, before returning, only to repeat this over and over and over.

How might the water stories and memories from today be about becoming close(r) with Derbarl Yerrigan and why do we need to be ‘close(r)’ and foster ‘close(r)’ relations with others in order to live well together?