Kites in Grasslands

Last weekend I went to my sisters Amanda book launch. Amanda has just written a children’s book called ‘Pimelea and her grassland friends’. The plant species Pimelea spinescens (Spiny Rice-flower) is the theme of the book and it is found in grasslands.

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The book launch took place at Iramoo, St Albans. There were loads of activities for children with hugely passionate people participating. Some of the activities including painting platypus plaster casts, colouring in, eating fruit snacks, book reading and signing, trading nature cards and wonderfully talented professionals giving their time to help teach their learnings to the younger kids.

Towards the end of the day, when it came time to enter the grasslands to find the plant Pimelea spinescens. We first went past the seed bank at the back of Iramoo. Then we walked through open space, crossed a small bridge, opened a 2.1m high wire mesh locked gate and entered into the grasslands. In a few steps we had found Pimelea spinescens. Then information was enthusiastically and rapidly projected towards us.

We moved through the grassland as a mob. Slowly from one rock to the next. I kicked over a few rocks and found some millipedes. Also another skink was found under another rock. Then it quickly moved away. This was so simple and yet so interesting for me. My boys seemed the most interested in standing on top of ants nests.

When I was in the grassland my time and urgency slowed down. I was happy sitting on a small log with my daughter Bronte (1). She missed the log and fell over backwards. That was a little bit funny. We played in the dirt using a stick. I found a petrified bull ant. I placed it in my hands to take a closer look at its detail. Bronte had moved my arm and I instantly jumped. I felt the bull ant was going to bite me even though it was dead. I thought, I must show this to my eldest son Rusty (7). So I picked it up again a bit hesitantly.

The rest of my kids followed Amanda and my dad Peter. I held Bronte’s hand and we moved slowly along the Sugar Gums really taking our time. I did this because she is young and I wanted to conserve her energy and it was near the end of the day. We moved from one ants nest to the next.

Then a brightly colour object caught my attention. I placed the bull ant on the ground. Hoping to pick it up again. I walked over and noticed it was a blue and orange kite about 1.2m wide. The string was still attached to the kite. It must have blown in from the surrounding open space.

Great, I thought! I picked up the kite and started to fly it with Bronte. We released the string out slowly. Wow, flying a kite in a grassland with my daughter was so relaxing and simple. Soon we got the kite all the way out to the end of the string.

As I was flying the kite, I watch small groups of walkers go around the outside of the grassland. They appeared very happy enjoying the sunshine. Talking amongst themselves. They showed no interest towards grassland and did not even know I was I there.

The wind was inconsistent, a little gust then nothing. The kite went up and down many times. As the kite went down with a thud, I wrapped the string around my hand. From this wrapping I had made such a tangled knot. One thing is for sure, I struggle to undo knots. It was fortunate that my dad loves undoing them. He had just came back from the stroll with my boys. For a brief moment my dad, Bronte and I were all holding the string flying the kite. Amanda snaps the picture and said “Three generations holding the string”. Then Dad simply broke the string to tackle the knot as he walked back. My boys soon arrived showing some interest in the kite. Yet really wanted to tell me the stories of fox habitat. Which they had just seen.

So at first glance grasslands are places where people should not enter. They appear to be off limits and need to protected to conserve the threatened species that live in them. Yet, people need to occupy grasslands. If people are allowed into these spaces they too can see the small detail, fly a kite or find Pimelea. Hopefully, one day, we can be her grassland friends.

Black Pen

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