The sun hasn’t stopped shining lately in Palmerston North, and on Tuesday ESOL Intensive class from English Language Partners left their books at home, grabbed their hats and sunnies and headed outdoors to see Palmy’s new bridge.
He Ara Kotahi cycle and pedestrian bridge opened this year and its design is inspired by a huge fallen karaka tree. After reading the informative posters and posing for photos on the bridge, the class set off.
The bridge links with some newly developed tracks going various places, and the track chosen by our learners traverses farmland, science centres and cycleways. Many conversations ebbed and flowed during the walk as learners reminisced in English and in their first language about their home countries, pointed out plants, birds and sights to each other, and discussed the ever-changing landscape.
There were high hedges to stand beside, herds of cattle to count, pine trees with the wind whispering through, predator traps in unexpected places, greenhouses with mysterious crops, glasshouses with sprinklers on, familiar and unknown birds and their songs to glimpse high in the sky or on branches nearby. Baby rabbits were spotted here and there, and ploughed fields and planted paddocks had many different patterns and colours.
There were many wild plants along the way, including hemlock (it’s pretty but never, ever eat it), wild pea (this is eaten in Myanmar), banana passionfruit (this is a bad weed but the fruit are okay if ripe) and wild fennel (a very aromatic herb).
At the end of the walk, with endorphins flowing from the exercise, everyone agreed that there should definitely be a next time and that next time we would bring more snacks and also a picnic.
By Mary Legg
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