Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I think summer might have arrived today

 Today the wind died down. And the sun shone all day. My mind didn't want to focus on work, and so I packed my backpack and went to the beach.
 Sitting under the trees, listening to the tide slipping across the sand and shells was soothing,
 and I wondered if I might take my first swim
 and then I thought, well no, it's not exactly blazing hot.
 On the beach teenage school girls were enjoying the last of their holidays. They were playing music and then every now and then would burst into song. Of course! Lorde has just won the Grammys and now every 17 year old aspires to be like her. Lorde arrived back in the country today, jet lagged and exhausted after all the excitement. But a whole generation of young women is now dreaming of greatness.
And so, maybe today did mark the arrival of summer. For when we break into song and our dreams burst into bloom, that's the season of warmth, long days, fun and drifting in the blue.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A family of volcanoes

 After climbing a steep flight of steps, we came to the crater. I love a natural pathway, especially a wavy one like this, with twists and turns. While waiting for Auckland's summer to arrive, I've found that the beaches are not the place to be. Nearly every day is windy and cool. It's almost the end of January and the first swim still hasn't happened!  High on this volcanic cone, hidden in a leafy suburb of Auckland, the wind was so fierce that I wished I'd put rocks in my pockets.
 The photo doesn't really show the steepness of the slopes down to the bottom of the crater. All around the ridge we found depressions in the ground, where there were once kumara pits. For this was a pa site (fortified village), and much of the terracing is still visible. You might get a sense of the perspective by seeing how small the sheep are down the bottom. The cone is called Te Kopuke.
 On the way to Te Kopuke I looked back, and saw the well-known cone of Maungawhau, the mountain of the 'whau' plant. Each summer I used to sit in Mt Eden village with other artists, under a big banner proclaiming 'Artists in Eden'. We would paint or draw the mountain, and then give our works to be auctioned on the spot, to raise money to help young artists. I used to walk up this mountain frequently.
 But - back to Te Kopuke, the path turned a corner, and there in front of us was another well-loved cone: Remu-wera, a fine mountain that lies to the east.
 When I was doing my training in psychosynthesis psychotherapy, we students used to climb Remu-wera during the lunch break, to release and replenish.
 Far in the distance, to the south, we could see Maungarei, a cone which has been quarried in the past. From this perspective, the cut line is clear. The other large cone, which I haven't photographed, is Maungakiekie, the one to which I have taken many visitors on their way from the airport to their lodgings.
From every one of these extinct cones, we get a view of the others. Te Kopuke is well situated for viewing. It reminds me of Auckland's history, and the family of volcanoes on which we perch. We are assured that they are 'not expected to erupt again', and so we have settled this once-fiery peninsula, trusting that it will stay cool and stable.
Descending the steps after circling the crater, I could feel the wind subsiding. It certainly blew away all the cobwebs, and I felt happy to have explored this hidden gem.

Friday, January 17, 2014


 While I've been in emptiness, nature has been in great fullness.
 Like the moon that flooded in my window last night. Just a little camera shake, and I have a heart, tipped on its side.
 And I'm remembering my farewell to the bach. On the last evening I walked out across the large inland dune that stretches between me and the lake.
 Sometimes, just as it's time to leave, everything becomes perfect.
 And the beauty is almost too much to bear.
And so, back home, I've been rather overwhelmed by the backlog of emails and tasks to be dealt with. I've withdrawn into quietness, and have felt too overwhelmed to read all the blog posts that I missed. But I've been sustained by the delicious courgettes and beans harvested from my bach garden. And gradually, little by little, I've been visiting you all, and loving your wonderful creative blog posts, that keep appearing from day to day.
I've been short of words and short of creative impulses. I'm stumbling, feeling inarticulate. But you are in abundance and fullness.

And I've had a new year surprise:
Gallivanta, who writes a lovely thoughtful, creative blog, has just honoured me in her latest post. My book 'Spirited Ageing' has been her first read of the year, and she writes about it so generously. Here's the link to her blog silkannthreades. Do take a look; she is well worth a visit. I'm reminded of when I did have the words and was in my creative fullness.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Return to nature

 I've been off-line, out in the wilds, on the edge of the Manukau harbour, taking time to be in the serenity of nature,
listening to the rhythm of the tides.
 But not alone. Once a year I take this time out with a community of people who care deeply about the earth and the health of our networks, ecological, social, political and spiritual. This year's gathering was called 'Power of Nature: Nature of Power', and we were inspired by several speakers, one from Britain and the other two with a strong grounding in the Maori world.
In soft focus, relaxing the work of the mind, we entered into the spirit of nature,
listening to the birds, trees, and water; watching the clouds that brought dramatic bursts of rain and wind, and then parted to reveal a shining moon, sailing high over our heads as we settled to sleep.
 Children played and made huts; we took mindfulness walks,
and together wove our stories, dreams and visions for a better world. Our projects for 2014 are wide-ranging and inspiring. Together we support one another as we prepare for the coming year.
Here is my favourite quote from the gathering:

[Your calling isthe place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

—Frederick Buechner