New Year’s Eve. Early morning. A brisk walk. Around the resort. Stop occasionally. Take photos. Mainly flowers. Bright red. Pink. Yellow. Pass walkers. Chat to workers. A couple asks, “Do you want to see a python? A big python? A 4 metre python that ate a small wallaby on Christmas Day?”
Walk. Past a small, Chinese shrine. Up a short, steep hill. Almost stumble on stones. Turn right. Cross mown, green grass. See golden cane palm. Eyes search tangle of dead fronds. Adjust from sun to shade. Careful. Not too close! Through the camera lens from here. A curled up python. A patterned python. Camouflaged. One part of his body MUCH wider than the rest. The wallaby?
The couple watched the python swallow the small wallaby on Christmas Day, “…being careful not to disturb the snake as he ate because surprise or stress can cause the prey’s bones to break and maybe rupture the snake’s skin or stomach,” added another local.
Six days later. Snake still resting and digesting.
Body still very wide in one part.
Left wondering. How did the python catch the wallaby? Did it silently slither over the grass, drop down from an over-hanging branch or coil and spring at the wallaby?
I couldn’t wait to share this morning’s rich experience with you, partly because it’s a fascinating glimpse into nature, but more importantly, it took me back to when our children were 5 or 6 years old and how, whilst walking—on a beach, in a rainforest, along a country road–we forged lasting family memories and made some of our most interesting and unexpected discoveries: a Leatherback turtle laying eggs in the sand; a brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly; a sleek red-fox searching for his supper. But most significantly, we spent time together—laughing, sharing, discovering, talking.
We don’t have to live near a beach or rainforest—it can be a sidewalk, a park, a backyard. It doesn’t matter where we are; we can always learn from our children—they are naturally and insatiably curious, and often notice things adults miss. When we respond to our children’s comments and questions, something special happens—we learn together.
I love the following story. John Medina paints a beautiful picture of the magic that can happen when a parent walks with a child:
“My two year old son Noah and I were walking down the street on our way to preschool when he suddenly noticed a shiny pebble embedded in the concrete. Stopping midstride, the little guy considered it for a second, found it thoroughly delightful, and let out a laugh. He spied a small plant and an inch farther, a weed valiantly struggling through a crack in the asphalt. He touched it gently, then laughed again. Noah noticed beyond it a platoon of ants marching in single file, which he bent to examine closely. They were carrying a dead bug, and Noah clapped his hands in wonder. There were dust particles, a rusted screw, a shiny spot of oil. Fifteen minutes had passed, and we had gone only 20 feet. I tried to get him to move along, having the audacity to act like an adult with a schedule. He was having none of it. And I stopped, watching my little teacher, wondering how long it had been since I had taken 15 minutes to walk 20 feet”.
(John Medina, 2008, Brain Rules, p. 278-279, Seattle, WA: Pear Press).
In a Nutshell:
Going for a walk is one of the easiest ways to spend precious time with your child. And, above all, when you spend time with your children, you send them the most important message of all—that you love them.
I’d love to hear your story about a walk you took with your child—something beautiful, something scary, something you learned, something you’ll never forget…
Lets’ inspire parents to walk with a child.