All ears at Leaf picnic

All ears at Leaf picnic

While her 10th standard friends knew these lines from Julius Ceasar, others had no clue. Once everyone gave ear (paid attention) to her, she announced about our field trip that weekend to 'Murugha vana', the only park in Chitradurga. It was music to their ears (good news). They all cheered so loud that I had to close my ears. I do know from experience how the kids enjoy outings, especially, with our story reading. "Miss! Next door people throw their trash into our garden. We need to yell at them", one of them shouted. "Shhh! Walls have ears (someone might be listening), speak softly", someone warned.

I was up to my ears in work (with too much work) the rest of that week. I barely managed to get Lewis Carroll's  'Alice in Wonderland' to take with me for this field trip.  As a little girl, I was very much fascinated by the fantasy world that Alice enters through a rabbit hole. I was all ears (gave all my attention) as my teacher read the initial few pages from that book. Those were the days! Anyway, now the tables are turned and it is my turn to make children enjoy reading.

The big day arrived and all the kids came in with ear to ear grins (big grins). Now that it's Summer vacation, some had brought their siblings and cousins as well. I gave the list of all safety instructions to individual groups and their leaders before we started. When the crowd is big, I fear that many instructions might fall on deaf ears (be disregarded). When we reached our destination 'Murugha vana', there was some movie shooting going on. Seeing film stars set our group on its ear (excite). Once they left the scene, we had story time with Alice. The whole crowd was up to its ears (deeply involved or occupied to full capacity) in Alice's adventures.

"Miss! Can I borrow your book for a day or two? I'd like to read it completely", it was Rachana's request for Alice's adventures. "Sure!" I answered and let the groups explore and play in the park. "Keep an ear out for (be prepared to hear) koels. Also, look for them when you hear them", Sindhu told her group children. Sindhu brought her little cassette player with some tapes of classical and light music. She has an ear for music (the ability to enjoy and learn music), I have been told. It reminded me of my mom, who could sing by ear (just by listening and without formal training). What she told me about music still rings in my ears (fresh in my memory). According to her, no one can have an absolute tin ear (insensitive to) for music. At some time or the other, everyone starts enjoying some kind of music.  Muruga vana is not only a neat little botanical garden, it also has a small zoo with deer, peacocks, peahens and Emus (large Australian birds). The gardener was ushering ducks to get back to pond after their breakfast! Several kids closed their ears when their quacking felt deafening. Some children explored the variety in the leaves and flowers while others noted down how many different birds they saw.

At lunch time, I noticed a girl trying to set the other two children by the ears (to cause a quarrel).  I warned her that if she doesn't behave herself, I'll have to pin her ears back (punish her). It appeared as if my warnings went in one ear and out the other (heard but ignored by her). "Miss! My name is Shruti. These kids are bothering me by pulling my hat", she complained. She was wearing a big hat completely covering her both ears. She said it is to protect her ears from the wind since she has a ear-infection. She seemed to be one of those who could easily talk your ear off (talk a lot more than what is wanted), if given the chance.  Her grin reminded me of the Cheshire cat who gives directions to Alice. The specialty of this cat is that even after he disappears his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air! In fact, Alice is amazed at this and remarks that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.

I pricked my ears up (started to listen carefully) when Ramya called out "Miss! there are so many koels right behind you". Sparrows, Robins were chirping in chorus too. Yes, it was FUN being in this park; it was music to ears (wonderful/pleasing) when children repeatedly said they loved hearing so many different birds, bees and butterflies.  Kids also enjoyed 'Summer Splash', playing water games as part of our organized garden watering program. Little ones enjoyed throwing pop corn to feed the fishes in the pond. With a loud croak of two frogs, few fish withdrew and disappeared. "Fish do not have external ears, but sound vibrations get transmitted from the water through the fish's body to its internal ears", Sindhu was trying to clarify when two others were arguing about whether fish have ears or not. Hearing so many birds chirp, Shruti said her uncle has a ring tone which sounds like a bird chirp on his mobile phone. It was hard to leave when the watchman instructed us that the park would be closed soon for the day. Even though I was wet behind the ears (young, inexperienced) taking this big a crowd for a picnic, I was glad that everything went very well. Guess what we saw on our way towards the gate! A beautiful white rabbit ran across flapping its ears! "Let's go after it and discover our own  wonderland!" all kids cheered. The Summer magic never ends for readers at LEAF!

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