As so many old wives’ tales contain a grain of truth it’s baffling why they are so ridiculed. There is much to learn from those who have observed life from the passenger seat over a lifetime and who may never have courted fame or glory. An old wife’s tale may not be science, but as a guidepost to life, it is knowledge that nurtures and binds us, that is carried on the breeze, that slow-drips through families from parent to child, like a recipe or a game. Often an old wives’ tale is the useful advice we recall when illness or an emergency arises. Ten years ago, when I moved back to rural Tasmania from London in early summer, I remember being told to be aware of snakes and how they appeared in months that contained the letter ‘r’. It seemed an odd piece of advice – yet there is truth to it. It’s one way of describing the spring and summer months when the copperhead, tiger and whip snakes in this southern patch are awake and looking for sun and water, and you need to be told ‘Be careful you don’t tread on a snake’. Now it is May and the ‘r’ months are behind us, although this is no excuse for us to hibernate, too. These are the months to bushwalk boldly; to sign up to National Parks pass; to open your lungs to the smell of a forest, coast, or cliff-top. To stand in a rainforest, reach a lookout, climb a pinnacle, admire a waterfall from underneath, or on top. To get outside and be in the world, not following or ‘liking’ it, but living it.
Published in Country Style, May 2014