Saturday, 14 April 2012

Finding Katherine Mansfield in the Middle of Our Adventure!

The tidy constraints of conservativism invariably encircle tightly and build dense fences around my life. So many years have been spent seeking safety and assurance, yet how often have I yearned for a streak of bohemia to come spill itself carelessly.. across the very fabric of my life.
 Staining in full colour,
 Perhaps, there has come an authenticity of recent years that brings diversity & satisfaction & I finally cease to care what others think....quite so much. 
Katherine Mansfield intrigues me in just such a way.
 A woman born out-of-step with her times & family.
 A woman fiercely determined to be herself, without apology.
 She explored the world in wildly intrepid it twice over, daily & then through her writing; a life that ended mid sentence..pen still poised, so much more to say & observe..

"There's no escaping the glory of Life.
 Let us engage to live forever.
For ever is not half long enough for me"

from a letter to Elizabeth Countess Russell 1921 from Katherine Mansfield tumblr 
photo from Spartacus Educational

"The clock ticks on tip-toe and the yellow curtains wave gently.
I love such a day.
It's such a rest-not having been outside for three days..
I love to be out of the streets and buses, out of the nudging crowds.
Oh, I must work.
The very shadows are my friends"
Katherine Mansfield 1917 (KM tumblr)

Nearly a century has passed since her death yet her work is still well preserved & much admired.
 The film Bliss screened here on television not so long ago, a biopic on the early life of Katie Beauchamp (Katherine Mansfield) produced by writer & director Fiona Samuel

So, imagine finding KM in the middle of my very own adventure!
If you've just popped in here & have no idea what I'm talking about you'll make sense of it all here.
When I was a small child the Napier-Taupo road had a fiercesome was rugged, windy, unsealed & made you puke. It was the only way to go north (& still is)...exhausting!
It looked, at that time pretty much like this:
I found this picture framed & hanging on the wall at the Tarawera Cafe when we returned to the Tarawera pools a few weeks after our initial discovery. 
The beginning of the adventure can be found over here, somewhere near the flying fox.
Waiting for our Earl Grey to arrive, I looked along the wall & discovered this framed newspaper article..I quickly rushed off to ask if I could take some photos. Who had been here so long ago, none other than our very own Katherine Mansfield!!
"We had reached the Tarawera Hotel in the evening and camped in a little bush hollow...
Grubby, my dear I felt dreadful- my clothes were white with dust- we had accomplished 8 miles of hill climbing- so after dinner (broad beans cooked over a camp fire and tongue and cake and tea) we prowled round and found an "aged aged man" who had the key to the mineral baths...He guides us through the bush track by the river...I don't think he ever possessed a tooth and he never ceased talking- you have the effect?
The Bath House is a shed-three of us bathed in a great pool-waist high...the water was very hot and like oil- most delicious...and when we came out each drank a great mug of mineral water- luke warm and tasting like Miss Wood's eggs at their worst stage- But you feel inwardly and outwardly like velvet."

Can you see the bath house?
What an amazing feat to have built such a dwelling back in the early 1900's!  
Sadly, the  bath house appears to have met it's demise around 1985 at the malevolent hand of a violent storm that devastated the area.
Perhaps this may have been the house that the "aged, aged man" was living in when KM stumbled upon him. There is now a slightly updated version a little further up the hill.
The track in is quite clear & accessible.
The surrounding bush is now satisfyingly verdant & mature.
But I suspect the source of the bubbling hot spring water hasn't changed much at all in the whole last century.
There is quite simply an alkathene pipe for delivery.
The well-spring..
And yes, it makes you feel like velvet...well, outwardly anyway!

Overwhelmed with delight & deep satisfaction at such an adventure, I could only but leave a message...from the bottom of my heart!
In autumn the track is furnished with hedgerow blessings. This vibrant bush is coprosma robusta. The berries are edible, seedy & fairly underwhelming but would sustain you well should you ever find yourself lost near bushes.
A short walk back to our car through a yarrow meadow.
Pondering on our journey home I would have to advise..take every opportunity that presents itself AND that appeals to you because you just never know whose life you may intersect or what history you might create for yourself...oh the things that you can learn & love!



  1. What a fascinating post, Katie-bird!
    You are such an adventurer and it is SO inspiring!
    I am going to look for KM books. She sounds like my kind of writer!
    We have mineral springs not too far from here. I'd like to go this summer.
    I'm so glad you are my friend.

  2. What a lovely post and all about someone I didn't know of, interesting. I would like to bathe like that - preferably at night under the stars!

  3. Wonderful post catherine, i used to be a big fan of km. i must re-read her this winter x


So lovely of you to leave a comment. Thank you!! ♥

Related Posts with Thumbnails