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


  1. Much love to you, beautiful Catherine from your least prolific commenter! You have such words. Profound and pretty in perfect measure x

    1. I am hugely grateful for your comment Mags, thank you! It gave me such a lift xxx

  2. lovely post Catherine, and once again photo's to send one dreaming! Your Nana sounds like a real grounded person. Thames and teAroha are beaut place, I nearly move to TeAroha years ago...........but it wasn't meant to be. Sometimes the twists and turns our lives take can be wondrous..............other times we would like to change them!

    1. Thanks so much Leanne. Yes indeed that is a great way to describe her..very grounded. Funny how things turn out sometimes, I agree. I spent the first year of my life in Te Aroha. Neither of my parents have very fond memories of that time, but I certainly feel a connection with the place & love it. Here's to a week of small wondrous turns eh! Much love Catherine x0x0x

  3. I was sorry to read about your Nanas passing Catherine. She sure was a wonderful gardener, just like her grandaughter :-) Te Aroha & Thames are captured beautifully in your photos ... gosh, a long trip for you both. I remember reading of you staying at that mountain lodge before in Te Aroha, The rainbow stairs are just amazing :-) I am wondering if that gorgeous teddy bear sitting outside the confectionary shop perhaps sampled too many of the sweets inside ???!!! Your new chest of drawers are so sweet, just perfect for seed storing. Happy week to you dear Catherine.

    1. Thank you so much dear friend.
      Yes, Nana loved her garden & very much wanted to live out her life in her own home.
      She was just starting to pick her corn & tomatoes & fed herself (& others) from her garden perpetually.
      Her compost was legendary!
      I feel certain that Ted has a very sweet tooth!
      Funny, the lady in the shop was so fine & petite it must be quite hilarious watching her wrestle him inside at the end of the day!
      I love my draws..I can store the bags, pens, gardening gloves etc in their too.
      So much better & easier to find things.
      Much love & wishing you water, in these wilty gardening days, my friend.
      Catherine x0x0x

  4. Catherine you always write such lovely posts even when sadness of a friend passing is included. Having her pots will always remind you of the friendship you both shared. I love those rainbow painted stairs.

    1. Thank you for your kind & lovely comment Sue. Yes the pots will be a happy little moment. I think I might sow some of the red hollyhock seed tomorrow too. Aren't the rainbow stairs delightful. I have to wonder if it was a community project or ???
      Have a lovely weekend.
      Much love Catherine x0x0x

  5. I am sorry your Nana has departed, I remember when mine did, I have missed her for many years. The place you stayed at is beautiful and all the things you saw along the journey are blessings. I hope you will always have happy and clear memories and that you are peace with her passing. Betty

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words & support Betty.
      I do think that loving grandparents stay with is a long time, perhaps always because of how they made us feel not so much what they did for us like parents.
      You are quite right...the whole journey felt like a blessing.
      Nana was 92 & very ready to depart so yes, I am quite at peace & happy for her.
      Much love, keep warm & well my friend x0x0x

  6. sorry keyboard not responding to my stumpy fingers ' should say 'hope you are at peace with her passing'.

  7. Sorry to hear about your Nana Catherine. I had no idea you had a nan in Thames what was her name. Her garden looks lovely as yours. xx

  8. Sorry about your loss How special that you share the same wisdom and values.
    That rainbow around the sun is absolutely magic and special Your photos are spectacular. The sunset picture are so beautiful and I love the touching story o Aroha and the river.
    I have been in Thames as well and still have a glas in lead butterfly bought in Thames who hangs in my garden. Oh and love the coloured stairs as well so much fun. A big hug and take care

    1. Hello Marja,
      Thank you for visiting me & your lovely comments.
      Yes it is special to share those things especially as she was a step-Nana to me.
      I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sky quite like that before.
      So glad I didn’t drop my camera out the car window while I was trying to catch the rainbow & traveling!
      I am glad that you liked the story. It’s nice to know that other nice people appreciate such things too.
      That sounds like Thames...a leadlight butterfly, now lovely.
      Much love to you.
      Have a lovely weekend x0x0x


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