Yesterday I spent the day dancing at a Scottish Country dance workshop. I came home late in the afternoon, had a brief rest and some delicious raw green soup (my specialty). Our 17-year-old daughter was working at the local stationary shop until 7 pm. She had walked the 30 minutes to her job earlier in the day. We like to encourage her to walk. But being winter, it’s pitch black by 6.30 pm, making it unwise for a young woman to walk on her own in the dark. So I walked down to get her. On the way back, just past our local ‘World Famous’ Fish shop, we were stopped dead in our tracks by the most haunting, almost surreal, sounds. The road we were walking was right beside the harbour, and the rocks on the roadside are home to Little Blue Penguins (the world’s smallest penguins.)
These birds return to their hutch each night after a long day of fishing (it’s estimated penguins swim 80km per day) for small, sardine-sized fish. Penguins then talk to each other for 2-3 hours, have a 4-5 minute sleep and then talk again for another 2-3 hours. We were catching the first part of the conversation. We couldn’t see them but we stood there for a long time, enchanted by the dialogue. I wished we knew the language.
The following audio is of the NZ blue’s relations in Australia. The New Zealand accent we heard was quite different but somewhat eerie in the dark nonetheless.
Like all penguins Little Blues are somewhat clumsy out of the water. One was hit on the road we were walking along a few months ago. Check this video out to see how well they navigate under water:
I could have picked up our daughter with the car. Instead I chose to walk. As a reward we were treated with bird songs we’d never heard before. We returned home, exhilarated, warm despite the winter chill, somewhat light-headed from the sweet fragrance of jonquils along the drive.
I sometimes wonder why more people simply don’t walk to do nearby errands, rather than drive. Bobby Hull was a National Hockey League (NHL) star when I was growing up. His exceptional physique was the result of the farm work he grew up with. Today people go to the gym or purchase treadmills and exercise bicycles. Bobby Hull reached the top of his game without the need for a gym. Why not just go for a walk. You too might be treated by nature to surprising sounds or intoxicating fragrances.
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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.
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