Walk in Nature | Stephanie Lymburner

Walk in Nature

By Stephanie Lymburner

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Award


‘Don’t look up!’

‘Look down, you’ll see the scats and you wont hurt your neck’.

“What are scats?”

My ten year old granddaughter Jessie, and I are walking through a eucalypt forest, she’s keen to see a Koala, in the wild ‘at home’ as she put it.

Leaves crunch underfoot the smell of eucalypts swirls around us, I detect the smell of Koala scats. In the leaf litter I find several distinctive female scats, bend down to pick some up, break one in half, exposing the dark green interior with it’s unusual smell.
Squatting down beside Jessie I show her the scat, when she realises that it’s Koala poo she shrieks in horror, that I would pick it up, break it open and show it to her.

‘Ohh yuk, Gran, how could you do that?’

To distract her from apparent revulsion, I lift her chin and point up into the towering trees above us, there on one of the lower branches is, to my surprise and Jessies’ delight, a female Koala with a tiny baby ‘cub’ clinging to her back, both are peering down.

Jessies’ large blue eyes widen with joy, a sparkle of tears shine in her eyes, she smiles widely, her upturned face shows such pleasure, it fills me with love for her and the marvels of nature.

‘It’s so cute!” she says.

We continue our walk managing to see an old male and some younger male Koalas grunting and rubbing their scent glands, obviously looking for love.
On our meandering walk home through the bush, we talk extensively about love. Initially it’s about the obvious love that a mother animal has for it’s young.
Jessie wants to know more about how a female koala can feed and look after her young in the bush.
Does the cub need lots of food? Does it cry when it’s hungry?

Does the mother kiss the cub, and how does the mother ‘tell’ the cub that she loves it? These questions and others similar are fired at me.

Some of the questions are beyond me, I try to explain the intricate web of survival all creatures endure, as well as the strength of maternal love.
We talk about habitat too, how humans require a house for shelter and yet animals live in very different types of environments depending on their needs.
I explain to her that all animals love their babies and nurture them as best they can for the survival of their species.

In the midst of a discussion about Koalas and other native animals in the bush, a Scrub Turkey crosses our path on the way to it’s nearby mound, scratching furiously at the leaf litter to give more cover to the mound and keep it warm. We watch his industrious behaviour for a while.

‘What it is it doing?’ Jessie asks.

I explain that it’s the way the Scrub Turkey looks after it’s nest, keeping the eggs that are buried deep in the mound at just the right temperature for them to incubate so the chicks can hatch.

‘It’s his way of showing love to the unborn chicks’ I say.

The explanation of what happens to the chicks when they hatch upsets Jessie.
When the chicks hatch they are left on their own to fend for themselves to survive. No guidance or lessons!
She thinks this is very mean she’d like to take the chicks home to show them some real love!

Again I’m faced with the description of love, how different animals show love and how we interpret their shows of affection.
Trying to explain that mammals provide protection, milk, warmth, food and love.
Marsupials have fur lined pouches spending an extensive amount time of raising their young lovingly.
Birds build nests some big, some small, some intricate feather lined constructions, some untidy tangles of branches and twigs, some scrapes in the ground, some don’t bother even with that, simply laying an egg on a branch but all nurture and love their chicks.

We arrive home still talking about animals and love. I made some scones whilst they were cooking, we have a cup of tea, speak more about love and how we express it to each other, our friends, parents and siblings, that affection and love can be shown in many ways to all creatures.
Puss walked in, Jess gave her a saucer of milk, Puss lapped it up then jumped onto her lap, Jess thought that Puss was showing her love for the milk as it settled down purring contentedly.
Suddenly Puss jumped off, Jess came across to me put her arms around my neck saying she loved me, the walk, seeing the Koalas and now understood more about love and nature.