Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Life and a Biscuit Tin

I've been thinking quite a lot lately about family-
 what it means to be healthy family & how strong bonds can be made spontaneously; glued with love. Other times, germs get in the wounds we create & the glue fails.
Every family story is different; 
life never unfolding quite how we imagine- some of it we choose & lots of it just happens.
Back when I was still little I happened to get a step-mother. I didn't ask to have a step-mother & I didn't actually want to have her- but she came along anyway.
What I didn't understand, until decades later, was how inclusive her mother (she lost her own mother at the time of her birth) had been towards me & how open-hearted & kind her sister was. At her passing in early June, that sister-Shirley left her own family bereft & me with the warm & comforting knowledge that I had been embraced & befriended. I have tucked these kindnesses in to my apron pocket & they will journey with me for life.
In my other pocket I have scissors & a quick unpick! 

Having stayed the night here at The Lake motel in Taupo, we journeyed to Hamilton on a fine winter's day to say goodbye to Shirley. 
 We had sold our persimmons & feijoas at the gate & had enough tucked away to pay for a night or two away. We made a little detour to Cambridge & stopped in at the My Style shop-small but so cute & sprinkled with Cath Kidston & Shabby Chic loveliness.
Just out of town we saw this wonderful old summer house,
set off to the side of this grand old house.
 Shirley knew how much we loved staying in Te Aroha so that's where we stayed after the funeral.
 It was very wintery (though not cold) & moody in the Waikato. We've been so long without rain at home I am having to water all my pots again & put on the irrigation!
It's just a wee town Te Aroha but there's some lovely places to visit here.
It was a bit of a scramble to get all my Trade Me sales & correspondence tied up before we left. I went to address a parcel containing a dear little Laura Ashley dress, when I realised that the buyer lived in Te Aroha! I was so glad that I make my parcels look like presents-so that when I delivered the dress in person, the little girl who was ill, was so excited to get a "present".
 It was good to make the journey in this way, to travel the miles together, talking about everything & working it all through.
 We were just out of Tirau when we saw a sign which prompted us to wonder what had become of Okoroire Hot Springs & Hotel under it's new management.  "Shall we go & see?". We both shouted yes let's!
Last time we visited it was like stepping back in time & it was all profoundly forgotten, eerie & run down.
 And we could only peer through the hole in the fence to see this pool.
 "New Management" had indeed been on the job although I don't think this is actually the quick way down.
 The top pool that had been enclosed previously was now a lovely open pool
 and The Fairy Pool had been reclaimed. It is reputed that this is the very earliest pool to be constructed of concrete in New Zealand, back in 1887.
This photo was taken in 1893
It is called The Fairy Pool because at night the bank twinkles with the little lights of many glow worms.
It was the most extraordinary experience being immersed in this water. On very tip-toe the water was lapping at my chin-really lapping, moving constantly. The bottom of the pool is all sandy & the water seeps up from the natural spring to continually replenish the pool, creating the finest champagne bubbles that tickle all over your skin & create continuous momentum as if the water itself is alive. (You may need to click on them to see some of these pictures properly)
In the days after our return I felt rather sad so I cried when I felt like it & I made a lovely cup of tea & sat in Lucy, remembering Shirley warmly.  Shirley had threaded her kind self through Sunshine Vintage in so many ways. A few years ago she had offered to be a helper & pick up any items I found on Trade Me if they were in Hamilton. It just so happened that Hamilton was where I found an Old English Rose tea set. Shirley was delighted to pick it up for me, not far at all from her home. She carefully unwrapped every piece & checked it all thoroughly before declaring it to be in splendid order.
I found the violet hat in Second Thoughts Collectables in Te Aroha.
Not often that you find such a treasure these days.
As I get older I have become very firm about pursuing depth & meaning & authenticity.
Which is why I find myself drawn to strong woman who have frank things to say.
Shirley had found her very best courage & was about to make new changes in her life, but she'd left it too late & never got the chance.
 Regrets & "too late" serve no one well.

Susan Weed writes so frankly- 

"Accepting it all -- the mess, the chaos, the pain, the insults, the senseless waste, the good deeds gone bad, the sheer beauty, the awesome power, the amazing perseverance, the stunning fecundity, the breath-taking coincidences 
– embracing it all, and loving it all, even within my self, is my path of authenticity,
 the real woman I wish the women of the world to know."

On our trip home I began to realise that I was feeling rather disturbed. Here it was again, that familiar feeling of discomfort of just not fitting in with the status quo. My whole life has become a mission to forge another way: to see, to be, to experience life,
and death.
A month or so ago Rob had been reading about a spot out in the Esk Valley where you could walk up the defunct railway track.
We found more than a railway track.
We found a truly majestical place.
A place where we felt completely at peace.
Wild violets
& bird song.
On our journey home from the funeral we got up close & talked about what we really wanted in death. Grand event funerals may be just the thing for most or many, but for us there is going to be another way.
It came to me a few days later. Rob, Rob...could you put a person in a biscuit tin?", I asked.
 And I am now quite certain you could. As long as you had a label saying who was in the tin & some children who were happy to follow simple instructions. We would be sprinkled together in to the river-the place of peace...& slowly make our way to the sea-that was Rob's idea.
 Any time someone wanted to remember us they could come to the river, to swim, to forage, to play & to picnic.
Perhaps they will find it to be a majestical place too.

This is my wish for you...

That the spirit of beauty may continually hover about you

and fold you within the tenderness of her wings.

That each beautiful and gracious thing in life

may be unto you as a symbol of good
for your soul's delight.

That sun-glories and star-glories, leaf-glories and bark-glories,

flower-glories and sand-glories that lurk in the grasses of the field...

Glories of mountains and oceans,

of little streams of running waters
glories of song, of poesy,
of all the arts...

May be to you as sweet abiding influences that will illumine your life

and make you glad.

That your soul may be as an alabaster cup filled to overflowing 

with the mystical wine of beauty and love.

That happiness may put her arms around you,

and wisdom make your soul serene.

This is my wish for you.


~Charles Livingston Snell




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