Uh oh: change

There’s a saying along the lines of “You’ll know change when you see it because you won’t like it”. I was at my daughter’s school the other day as she collected her Year 9 laptop courtesy of the Digital Education Revolution (shortened form “DER”: no further comment needed). Her older brother’s been lugging this piece of landfill around for some time now. I don’t have a sense that the teachers have caught up with the best ways to use laptops in lesson plans (why would they?) and so his hard drive seems to be filled with games and movies swapped in the schoolyard.

But it’s the future, as we’re so often reminded. Even at primary school my kids were being told “The only certainty in your life is change” and “You may work in careers that have yet to be invented”. I don’t feel that these are necessarily good messages for young children but there you are: it’s change, and I don’t like it.

During the summer I went birding with a friend. We’re both 50+ but also both had iPhones with the Michael Morcombe birding app on board. This app is a brilliant innovation to my mind, one that neatly marries a need with a slick piece of technology. Back at the campsite, however, I felt uneasy. My friend’s daughter was scrolling through the app on her iPad, listening to bird calls. It’s how she was learning.

I learnt my bird calls (and here he draws himself up to his full rambunctious stature) by endless hours of birding, hours that were always pleasurable but many of which ended with a degree of disappointment; there was always the sense of having missed something or failed to make an identification. Because most birding is about what you hear, not what you see, the best way to learn is to go out (ideally with other more experienced birders) and keep at it until the magical moment when you actually get to put the call together with a confirmed sighting.

Having said that, my friend’s daughter will will be able to identify far more birds far more quickly than I ever could, so why I am complaining? Why don’t I like it?

Next to the gasworks the other day I heard a “slow, high, piercing ‘kieek-kieek-kieek'”. I had a pretty good idea what it was but the iPhone app allowed a neat confirmation. When the grey goshawk emerged from the lower trees behind a patch of lantana a black-shouldered kite came down to give it a hard time and so I had a visual confirmation.

So was what I did any different to what my friend’s daughter would have done? If there was any difference it was that she wouldn’t have had the endless disappointments of not seeing the birds that one hears but never sees, and surely that’s a good thing. And yet … bah.

The tides are high at about 8 am, which is about the same time that I take Jambo on his morning constitutional. With water still pouring down the creek it took a mighty effort to get the incoming saltwater to crest, but it did. About a minute after I took these pictures the tide surged inland.

Luckily I’d climbed up the metal rungs on the concrete banking and was walking along the grass by that point or I’d have been wet up to the ankles.

This afternoon things had calmed down. There were even moments of dappled sunshine between the showers.

It was a relief to know that in a world of constant change, some things stay the same.

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