Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
- TITLE: Git On Board Little Children
By Fiona Stevenson
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Nature Rambles were held once every term. A walk to a local park; a visit to a local farm; or the morning spent at a nearby beach: the rambles were an extension of the school day, adding experience to theory.
Nine year old Clarence was a new boy to the school. He attached himself to Philip, a quiet friendly boy.
“What are we going to do?” Anxious eyes peered through thick glasses under a shady hat.
“Whatever the teacher says.” Philip’s answer was brief. “Come on.”
The boys were among a group assigned to a short, plump girl with laughter on her lips. She pulled her sandals from her feet and swung her carry bag over her shoulder. Pointing to a rock pool some distance from them she called to the group, “Race you to there!”
Breathless, they gathered around her. She pulled small paper packets from her bag.
“We’ll start with shells.” She pointed to a seam of shells running up from the rock ledges. “Try to find whole shells with markings and colour. Some will be flat or slightly rounded; others will be small pointed shells. Just bring one or two of the same kind. And if you find one of these,” she bent to pick up a small slab at her feet, holding it on the flat of her hand for them to see the shimmer of colour, “although it is not a whole shell you can add it to your collection. When you hear my whistle, bring them back to me. Off you go!”
Shell searching is absorbing. They were not ready for the whistle when it shrilled. Miss Glenny wrote their names on the packets with the number of shells in each before they were sealed. They would be identified and displayed in the classroom later in the week. Similarly, they packeted a small spoonful of sand from different levels of the beach between the slightly damp sand and the dry sand of the dunes.
The dunes yielded a varied collection of jetsam, litter and leaves. Miss Glenny’s carry bag yielded apples, oranges and water while filling up with the children’s collections. The sun rose and the temperature soared. Miss Glenny’s whistle shrilled.
“We’re going back to the bus. No,” she laughed at the dismay linking solemn faces, “it’s time for lunch. We still have the rock pool to explore before going home. Bus!” She pointed. “Last one’s a monkey!”
Under a canvas canopy Miss Fraser had a trestle loaded with buttered buns, small sausages, tiny tomatoes and sticks of vegetable. Fifty plus active bodies need a lot of energy food. Quantities of cool cordial washed it all down. Excited chatter became a low buzz as the children sought shady spots among the nearby trees while the teachers and helpers tidied away the emptied containers.
The shrill of whistles recalled the small bodies from their resting places, dispersing them to their assigned areas along the length of beach. Miss Glenny gathered her group close around her, explaining as they walked what they might expect to find in the rock pools, emphasizing the need for care as they moved from one pool to another.
“Keep your sandals on and watch where you put your feet. The rocks are sharp and some of them are slippery. Don’t go to where the waves are washing over the rocks.”
After a brief inspection of the smaller pools they gathered around the largest of them; kneeling, bending, peering. The still clear glass of the water revealed another world. Tiny fish darted among the ringing anemones; a pale crab scuttled across the bottom of the pool. A quick hand broke the tension of the water; fingers lifted the crab from the pool.
“Miss, what is this?” Clarence transferred the crab to his flat palm, peering closely.
“That is a crab, Clarence. It is a very small one.”
“I think it is beautiful.” Clarence’ voice was awed. “God made so many wonderful things and I think this is one of the most beautiful.”
He carefully returned the crab to the water before looking around the upturned faces. “Don’t you think so?”
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