Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spring cleaning

 Do you ever have a day when the energy of the season sweeps right through you, carrying you with it?
Such a day happened earlier this week. The sky was clear, the day warm, the tide high and the air singing a song of change.
 I began to clean and to clear. Old musty corners were scoured out. The bed was moved into a new position. The bedside table was cleared of its clutter. Clothes were put away, windows cleaned, sills wiped. The whole impulse was towards cleansing and clearing. Even the flowers, wherever I looked, seemed pristine . . .
 Come on, show us your beautiful face. Thank you.
And look how these little magnolias open to the season, so eager and perky.

Clutter clearing releases a lot of energy. But you need to be sure that no-one is going to try and retrieve what you've thrown out.
Little Miss Bangles came to visit, and spotting the little pile of books that we had agreed (a while ago) must be passed on, lifted one out of the pile.
'But you said you were finished with that one,' I protested. (It was a little book of songs, that she had never made much sense of.)
To which she replied, sagely, ‘But I might like it now because big people, they’ve got different ways.’

And so she does. Now that she's four, she is fascinated by the fact that musical notation can be 'read' and sung.
Renewal and growth are part of the season as well. 
May you enjoy the tides of renewal, wherever you are.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spring birth

I am so lucky to have been born just as spring was gathering her skirts, ready to leap and dance. Yesterday was a great celebration of my birthday.
I want to share my spring bouquets with you: first begonias, looking as if they would burst out of their container with joy.
 then chrysanthemums, an unusual variety, but how very sunny and open
Then there were irises - oh gorgeous purple!
and sweet smelling daffodils, earlycheer and snowdrops in a neat little bouquet,
a silk scarf to waft around my neck - mmm it feels so slithery and light,
stones painted by Mira (who is 4), and red leaves, carefully selected, one by one,
oh, and the begonias wanted to say hi to you once more.

We all need that spring-like feeling of a new beginning, no matter what season we are in.
And so I'm sharing my new beginning with you, showering you with flowers, and wishing you many bright days ahead as you bring into your life all the newness, the freshness that your heart may desire.
Happy birthdays to us all!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A flotilla sails by

 It was raining the day that little Miss Bangles came to visit. Never mind, I'd just brought back a treasure box after my breakaway trip to the bach. She wanted to explore and unpack every bag. First the bleached mussel shells . . .
 Then the bag of coloured stones. Every one of them was our 'favourite'.
 Before long the mussel shells had become kayaks, and were loaded up with 'people'
of varying sizes
 But because it was raining, they had to have roofs over their heads
and comforting houses to go home to.

And so I watched a flotilla of shells sailing through the afternoon, bringing with it happy memories of my childhood. Because it was after the war and few toys were to be had, we explored nature's abundance day after day and discovered a world of constant magic and delight.
 And then another layer of memory emerged as the flax snail shells gathered in close. . .
. . . of a perfect day when, with a lover, I strode the beach between two light-houses, from Cape Reinga to Cape Maria Van Diemen, at the very top of the North Island. The sky was azure, the sand dazzling white, the sea freshly rippling as we walked for three and a half hours to the lighthouse, and then three and a half hours back. We found these sun-bleached shells, scattered about everywhere, and also gathered fresh mussels which we swung in a kete between us as we strolled back along the sea's edge.

And now, the little one is lost in her own world of shells and stones, kayaks, voyages, and little sheltering houses. Imagination and memory billow like clouds in the space between us.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Breakaway Day

 Do you ever yearn to break out, get away from it all, find wide open spaces where you can breathe freely and leave behind everything that has been clamouring to be done?
 Today was such a day for me. I knew I had to head west.
To do so I first had to break away from some constricting thinking, such as:
'You only go out to the bach if you can stay overnight', or
'Black clouds are gathering. It will be wet.'
'What about x, y, and z on your desk. What about revising chapter 9?'
But I didn't care. The coast was calling. As soon as I turned on to the north western motorway and saw the distant curves of the Waitakere Ranges, my heart lifted.
 I stopped at the organic growers and bought fresh green spinach, cut while I waited, manuka honey, and baby beetroot just lifted from the rich black soil. Above the garden, the taiwanese cherry was resplendent
 in its spring gown,
the camellia, 'Royalty', was dancing in her red dress,
 while high above, a tui song resounded across the valley, joyfully announcing that today, at least, spring is here!
 At the bach I sneaked up on a clump of daffodils that were brightly flowering. Will you turn your face to me?
 Yes, that's better. Thank you.
While the kawakawa is once again pointing its dainty fingers towards the sun, so perky and glad to feel the warmth.
Breakaway days - they are the best. I felt like a truant. I have returned to the city refreshed, after breathing in the wilds, the spring, and the sound of the surf. I had to sit down and tell you about this as soon as I arrived home. And now I am going to drink my cup of kawakawa tea, infused from the leaves I gathered today.
Do you need to break away - from routines, confinement, old patterns, jaded places? Then go for it! You will be glad.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seeking brightness

 What's the use of sitting at a computer, revising chapter eight of my book, when I feel my energy flagging? Post-viral fatigue is wrapping around me like a musty old jacket. There's only one solution. Get outside into the morning sun. Seek out brightness.
And there it is, as I walk down to the jetty, and am greeted by this newly flowering geranium.
 The tide is gently lapping as I find a patch of sunlight and do my tai chi. Ooh, the soothing sound of the sea, sloshing and sliding over the muddy, sea-weedy shore. I find myself falling into rhythm
 with the waves and the brilliant reflections that defy camera-catching. But their sound continues: shush-aah, shush-aah.
 As I return I notice the first agapanthus waving its blue buds and dancing flower.
 The reflections have passed into me
I pick some of the rosemary that is flowing profusely, and bring it inside to inspire my work.
I can do it now. I've found brightness.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


 When you are four, and you've discovered a little box of biscuit cutters in your toy box, well of course you want to try them out. So you make your grandmother promise. And of course she says yes.
Because she has a sweet place in her heart that melts when you are around.
 First you mix up the dough. You are given the sieve to shake and remove the lumps from the flour. But LUMPS is a new word. 'What are lumps?' you ask, and when they are pointed out, 'are they like little rocks?' Well yes.
Then you learn to roll the dough out, as thin as possible. You learn to place the cutters close to the edge,
and to press really, really hard.
 Some of the shapes are so funny that you and granny can't stop laughing.
Finally, there they are, all spread out on the tray, ready for the oven. Mmm, that smells so good on a cold wintry day.
 And when they are ready, and sitting on the special plate that belonged to great-great-grandma whom you never knew, it feels as if spring has come.
Mmm. Let's start eating, and can you take the rest home? Today you were a star cook, and you even insisted on cleaning up afterwards. Of course you can.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Brigid, Brigid, won't you come in?

Brigid, (Imbolc) fell on August 2—halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. I always love this festival because it signals the return of spring, and marks a quickening of energy. Brigid was the Celtic goddess of fire and inspiration.
In my book, Celebrating the Southern Seasons, I call this festival First Light. In old Europe, people would open the door and call out 'Brigid, Brigid, won't you come in?'
This year I was calling extra hard.
The rain was sloshing down, the wind nipped and pinched, and I began to sneeze and cough. The flu had finally caught me. I thought I'd escaped, but there we are, sometimes winter ends with a sting in its tail.
 Now I've ventured out into the sun. Yes, sun! It has returned, and is caressing the buds of the daphne bush that my friend gave me last year. She left it, gift-wrapped, on the doorstep after the teenager in our family suffered a tragic loss.
As the daphne flowers again, I remember that a whole year has passed since that event, and give thanks that our dear teenager is once more finding things to enjoy in life.
 The sun strokes the blue hyacinths, with their little bells that I fancy are sending out a ring of hope.
And the first freesia is on its way to blooming.
Brigid was associated with the ancient goddess in her maiden form. Her statue would be taken down to the sea or lake, and washed, to signify renewal. Candles would be lit to celebrate her light.

I missed our First Light/Brigid celebration this year because of being unwell. So this post has become my celebration, in honour of the return to life and hope.
For all of you who need renewal and healing:
Brigid, Brigid, won't you come in?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My friend

We met on the equator.
No land was in sight. Yet the crew of 'The Fairsea' knew exactly when we were to 'cross the line' and held a ceremony to mark the moment.
That's when I saw her, a beautiful young bride, dancing with her new husband. She was aglow with love.
I wore my wedding dress. I wasn't quite such a new bride, but still new enough to fit the dress perfectly.
She was immigrating to a new land, the land where her new husband had lived since he was seven years old. Many challenges lay ahead as she learned to master English, and adjust to a very different country.
We became friends, two couples who visited each other's homes, camped together, attending a summer school and sharing a love of the arts.
Then something happened, a foolish disagreement, followed by a move to another city, and we lost contact.
Many years later, we found ourselves separated from the husbands with whom we had danced so freely across the equator. We also rediscovered our friendship.
Over forty years on, we keep in touch, even though we live in different cities. We phone each other regularly. Our husbands have both died, but we live on and have become even more ourselves. Not only do we hold the memory of our youth together, but we enjoy each other in the present. Long-lasting friendship is like good wine that has gained flavour and bouquet over the years.
My friend has just come to stay and the room still rings with our conversation and laughter.
When she left, she gave me her kete of woven flax. It holds a folder, my choir music, or a book just perfectly. As I swing it in my hand, I think of friendship and longevity, and think that maybe the equator is a lucky place to make a friend.