We've done this before, you and I. It's that time of year again, when the shadows are lengthening, the nights are growing cooler and it's time for us to venture to the other side of the hill.
At first we seem to be making straight for the sea, but the secret place we are heading for means a bit of a climb
as we take the winding path up the side of the hill. Our back pack is heavy, with drink and a container of rice salad, along with camera and warm clothing for later in the day.
The climb never matters when there's a view like this at the other end, before the descent to the hidden garden.
Repetition is unavoidable in a blog about the seasons. The wheel turns and we are back where we were last autumn,
ready to join in the communal kumara dig. It starts with the tearing up of the vines. What lies beneath, says our host, is a mystery.
There might be nothing at all this year. It will take patience as our fingers work into the sandy earth.
Implements are forbidden. They might cut into the kumara, or into little fingers. The trick is to make a 'cliff' and then tunnel into it from the side. Not easy this year as rain has fallen and the earth is quite solid under the first loose layer of the mounds.
Our host was right. This little cluster was all I found,
and compared with last year, the crop was not huge. When things repeat, the differences stand out.
After a barbecue, and chats on the grass with friends new and old, it was time to wander back along the beach before the full tide made the river crossing difficult.
As I inhaled the fresh tang of the surf, I thought of the comfort of the seasonal cycle. Harvest time comes round each year. Through abundance and scarcity, friends gather, food is shared. Yet repetition also throws into relief what has changed; the friend who is now a widow, another who is in a wheelchair, the absences, the uncertainties of climate, the endings, and some unwelcome beginnings.
I returned to the comfort of the turning wheel of the year, and remembered an old rhyme:
The earth, the water, the fire and the air.
May it continue to be so.