Getting to Know our Students – Larene Moolman

When I first decided to move to the bush, it was because of the big things, the sunsets, the horizons, the love of the outdoors, the stillness, the space. Not for one second did I expect that I would fall in love with the little things.

I have lived in London for more than a decade. I loved city life and being a teacher, but I also wanted to experience a life surrounded by nature, the balance of being. One late night and a bottle of Blue Bottle Gin lead to a friend telling me about a friend that did a Field Guide course. I knew that this was what I had been looking for.

On the 10th of January 2022, I pulled into the Oakland Inn, ready to meet my new colleagues, my fellow students, my partners in crime. We rolled in one by one, and the little questions kept on popping up. Will I like them, will they like me, will we have anything in common, and how on earth am I going to learn the names of all those trees?

No group could have been further apart in life and experiences, but within a week I felt like I was part of a family.

Our education began as soon as we went on our first drive. New vocabulary started pouring into my head: Silver Clusterleaf, Red Bushwillow, Sicklebush. Within a week I went from someone who could tell you ‘it’s a tree’, to a person who could tell you the difference between a Velvet Raisin and a Sandpaper Raisin. I was hooked.

And then..

I opened my eyes, and then I opened my eyes again. The bush was full of wondrous things. Small, beautiful, glorious flowers. Cleomes, Commelinas and Justicias. While the other students kept their eyes peeled for leopards, lions and lapwings, I kept my eyes on the ground searching for new flowers. Flower identification did not come easy, but with a bit of guidance I started to learn to look for the little details.

It has been eight weeks, and everyone in our little family has each found something that they never knew they loved, for some it is tracking, for others it is looking for scorpions, for me it is that warm glow inside when I find a new flower and after digging through the books, writing its (Latin) name under the picture.

I love getting up every morning – even if it is 4:30 duty – and watching the sunrise because I know the day will bring something new, something interesting, and if I am lucky, maybe, just maybe, a new flower.

Words by Larene Moolman, Career student

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