Meet Pelle, a ten-year-old from Tasmania. I spent 2 weeks in Tasmania with Pelle’s family. His uncle, Ben (Uncle Brandy-Snap) is one of my best friends who now lives in the States. Pelle’s father Jesse, has also become a good friend. Here’s my story with Pelle and what I learned from him.
It was six o’clock and dinner was approaching. The women in the family asked Jesse what the plan was. We had a few options and one of those options was pasta. If we were going to have pasta, we would undoubtedly, absolutely have to include mussels.
However those mussels were not in the refrigerator, they were not in the ice box and they were not at the local fish market. In fact there was no local fish market any where near us. Having mussels would require a some work on the water.
Those mussels were in the wild. They were in the estuary. They were siting on the side of rocks in the middle of that estuary, available for harvest during low tide. It was low tide right now. Jesse, asked Pelle and I if we can l go out on the kayak and grab about fifty or so for dinner to be mixed with the pasta.
Pelle jumped up with enthusiasm and started to get ready. I never went mussel picking before in my life, but I was keen for a new endeavor and a sunset kayak ride on the water. This estuary is a beautiful mouth of water that leads directly to the open sea on the east coast of Tasmania, Australia.
This expected kayak trip turned into an experience I’ll never forget with Pelle. Not only did I have a fun time and get to know him more, but this inspiring ten year old gave me some uplifting life lessons.
Let’s get into it:
1. “You see, we’re both learning” Lesson – During the kayak adventure it was obvious who had more outdoor skills. Pelle by far. I’m a city boy and typically not doing outdoors stuff a whole lot. Pelle’s a natural. He can fly on that kayak. He can move on those rocks like spiderman. He can sense where the biggest mussels are, then jumps into the water, reaches down and grab some rippers (slang for monster size mussels).
Me, on the other hand am a clumsy fool in nature. I was slipping all over the rocks and when I’m not slipping I’m walking gingerly and slowly trying to protect my feet from the sharp shells on the rocks. As we walked back to our kayaks, Pelle had a minor slip on a rock. He recovered quickly, but said to me, “You see Joe, we’re both learning.”
This statement opened my eyes. Pelle was teacher on this adventure. He showed me where the mussels were, then he showed me how to get them. He was the pro. I was the amateur. Yet, Pelle was humble and showed his maturity by explaining that he’s still learning too.
In life, no matter where we are, we have to continue learning. That goes for a clumsy thirty-two-year-old student, or a skillful ten-year-old teacher as well.
2. The “It feels good” Lesson – With our goody bags of mussels filled Pelle said, “Doesn’t it feel good to go out on your own, to get some food and bring it back to share with your family? It’s such a good feeling. I reckon it’s a lot better then going to the grocery store and buying mussels there for $50. Most groceries stores don’t even have mussels.”
It does feel good. Catching fresh food and sharing with the people you care about. Pelle and I contributed to dinner for the entire family. Pelle’s family was so generous to me for two weeks hosting and feeding me. It was nice to bring some food to the table that night, and to do it with Pelle. It sure beat going to the grocery store, and like Pelle said, it’s a lot cheaper too.
3. The Easy/Hard Lesson – When we first started kayaking towards the rocks we were against the wind and current. Coming back home we were going with the wind and current. As we started our way back Pelle shouts, “Just the way I like it! Do the hard part first and then the easy part last.”
This is a good reminder for me. I tend to put off off the hard stuff as long as I can. I procrastinate and find excuses. Yet, whenever I attack the hard stuff first its never as hard as I think it is. I get it done and I feel a lot better about my work.
4. The Pelican Lesson – Pelle’s paddling then he stops. He looks up and points to a pelican. The pelican was way up in the air, the highest I’ve ever seen a pelican. So high I thought it was an eagle or a hawk. The wings were spread out and motionless, majestic like. Pelle said, “Look at that pelican, it’s really amazing and peaceful to look at that pelican soaring high in the sky just gliding without flapping its wings.”
Pelle’s observation reminded me to stop and notice all the nature and beauty surrounding me. Being aware of nature and wildlife is a special gift the world gives us. It’s also a peaceful meditation for me. It brought a sense of calm as I no longer focused on the struggle to paddle. From that point I soaked it in. I watched the water reflect, the birds fly, and the orange setting sun and the darkening trees stare resolutely at me. I stared back and smiled.
Thank you for the lessons Pelle! I had an incredible and memorable time with you in Tasmania. You’ve become a good friend!