Monday, 26 January 2015

Climbing the Rainbow Stairs

We've been up north, just recently...
to say goodbye to Nana.
I first met Nana when I was about 7 years old.
She was kind but practical & didn't really chat a lot.
Like me, her start in life wasn't too flash. Her mother died when she was only 3 weeks old.
Somehow Nana & I never really connected on that one, (which might have been helpful) but later we shared much the same values: kindness towards others & sharing what you have, no such thing as being bored, gardening is everything & the seasons are there to be followed & prepared for, save seeds; creativity & resourcefulness are pretty vital attributes, life is best lived in bright & vibrant colours & a cheery, caring attitude is really the best approach for almost all occasions.
On our journey to Thames we saw amazing sights...
a rainbow around the sun.
My brother says it's because of ice up there, but let's not spoil the magic!
Thames isn't really very far from Te Aroha...a place that feels like a second home to us both, especially since Aroha Mountain Lodge & the ever marvellous & hospitable Greg are always there... 
waiting for us.
Down the bottom there are three lovely rooms ensconced in the old Maternity Annexe. We stayed in the honeymoon suite. I love the double hung windows & the high ornate ceilings. For decades women found welcome support here in their quest to bring forth new life...the warm welcoming arms are still awaiting expectant travellers. We slept with the windows wide open. The cool mountain night breezes heavenly after the heat of the day.
From the veranda we watched the sun drop out of the clouds
& steadily disappear to bed.
We prepared well for our trip. This Bircher muesli is one of the most amazing foods, ever. If you eat it for breakfast it'll see you through the day & it's also one of the most delicious things you'll ever taste..truly! The fruit is my best discovery in years. The apricots were fermented in honey for 3 days on the bench & then kept in the fridge, so were the strawberries.
On Friday we headed through to Thames; a very old town with a pioneering spirit & a gold mining foundation.
Looking for good coffee, we came across a fabulous sweet shop called Palmer's Confectionary.
First established in 1871 (which is very early on in New Zealand history) the business flourished for many years until trading ended in 1956 & the shop was sold. Then, all these years later the dream has been revitalised & the premises blended (in true Coromandel style)
to incorporate several areas of colourful, innovative craft work.

It is said that during the war years, when sugar was such a luxury, that sometimes locals would bring any extra that they had & would have it made in to sweets as a special treat. Palmers toffees were also sent to the Front for "The Boys".
I love this advertisement printed in the Thames Star on the 24th December in 1901:
There's a lot of history in this place.
Having been a capable & prolific potter for previous decades, in her late 80's, Nana took to doing some wool felting. She made some beautiful felted rose brooches. This one she gave to me. I decided that in her honour, bright & cheery would be just what she would have wanted to see.
We took a slight wrong turn later in the day.
Or maybe not...
Nana's greatest passion was her garden.
She was just stringing up the new seasons onions for her daughters...
when she left.
Leaving a legacy of value is so important.
I found this delightful chest of drawers in the Restore shop early last week.
I decided that they would be perfect for storing my carefully gathered seeds.
Nana's red hollyhocks will be the first seeds to find a home there.
I love the colours in her glazes in the little dishes that I bought home with me.
The tiny white one is for Nina.
I'll keep saving the seeds for her until she can grow her own.
I found the little book "Aroha and the River" by Jeanette Galpin, for a dollar in a book sale the day we left.
I read stories (I discovered it to be a book of New Zealand short stories) out loud as we began our journey home.
"Aroha and the River" was so beautifully written we felt as if we were floating on air for miles.
It is the story of a European woman coming to pay her respects to her Maori friend that has just died:
...." And then for a little while we sit down with Turu in Turu's place on Turu's mattress and the presence of Dolly is as warm & strong as the autumn river. Beside such strength the pictures which stand against the the foot of the casket are pale & insubstantial-there's a framed one of somebody in pink organza at her twenty-first, the glass on it all blurred & damp from finger marks & lots of kissing.
"You just follow me then Mrs Richard, "I hear Turu tell me like a father. And suddenly Te Aroha is so full it's hard to stand, it's hard to walk, it's hard not to weep in this lovely crush of bodies. And soon, following Turu as he tells me, I am engulfed in a nurturing tide of the warmth of which I have never known, a loving all-embracing  circle meeting, sharing, touching, moving on. And then the hongi is over, when the clasped warm hands are loosed I find that the tight-hard pushed back band has finally been freed. My cheeks too are wet with tears"...

Much love to you all.
Catherine x0x0x

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Exploring Joy

Hello there!
I was wondering if you would like to tell me about what joy means to you?
I've done a bit of exploring and pondering myself over the last week or two and I have come to the conclusion that joy is really rather elusive. I have to say, I really do, that lots of descriptions & explanations are just plain odd and rather intangible.
But, I get the feeling that joy should be something wonderful, an energy, an emotion that draws us in with warm welcoming, open arms...
and says to our hearts "What a pure, simple delight it is to be alive".

  I find happiness to be a gentle friend..
and peace, a kind of restful feeling,
but sparkles and sings.
I think that joy maybe a soul-mate to wonder.
Nina and I decided that these pohutukawa "needles" may, in fact be, fairy matches.
What do you think?
I don't have much call for the complex & the grand, these days...
stress & struggle don't really serve any of us well.
Pretty & whimsical bring me a soul-nourishing happiness,
and my garden flowers, both pleasure
 & joy..
This Waterfall begonia revels in sunlight.
Joy can sometimes arrive by surprise.
Like on Christmas morning when I was startled to realise that there was a park bench sitting in my garden! Dear man had re-made it's seat (to fit the salvaged ends) & carefully hidden the bits from me as he went along..quite a feat!
To me a garden is a miracle of creation,
holding within it's fertile, loamy womb a self-perpetuating and everlasting gift of a myriad miracles; some evident to the open eye, some disguised in obscurity;
all enfolded in the gifts that are called seasons...
The colours, shapes, textures
and sheer abundance astonish me.
Our summer is now full-blown, with roasting hot days & just-a-sheet-covering, very warm nights.
So a few days ago, knowing Rob would be melting at work, I gathered some picnic things together
& a picnic tea
& off we went to the river, as soon as he got home.
Our favourite spot at Sacred Hill...
 So cool & tranquil & green.

 Katie Daisy
Dear, sweet katie daisy.

I don't think that joy is found so much in the rushing, the busy whirl of a stress-filled life. 
But sometimes, it does pop in with happy serendipity, like the three delightful Lower Hutt visitors, that came back to find plums at the gate & ended up sampling elderberry tonic & kombucha, just half an hour ago. What a lovely joyful encounter!
So please do tell me more about joy, dear friends.
Thank you for your lovely visit.
Much love Catherine x0x0x

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