My winter 2015 blogpost talked about the deliciously slow passage of time where I delighted in the short days and long nights. But how the opposite holds true for spring and summer! As I sit here cataloguing my photos from the last several months, I barely remember all that has happened in the whirlwind of life on a thriving, abundant, alive, and ever growing country property! Let’s go down memory lane and see what’s been happening.
September kicked off spring with daffodils by the hundreds in bloom around the property. We did a HUGE tree-felling operation with arborist friend Patrick and several woofers which I wrote about here. Two weeks of hard work nearly wore me out but there is no rest for the weary in my world.
Three days after the woofers left, I got on a plane and head to the United States for a 3-week visit with family & friends which I did also manage to blog about. Always on the go, not a single day to myself to chill out, it was a socially-filled whirlwind trip!
Four days after I arrived back in New Zealand, we started a ten-day spring woofer cohort of two: Borja from Spain and Connor from the US. The focus of this cohort was to continue working on the wood – chainsawing, splitting, and stacking. Working mostly with Bruce, several days were devoted to this task.
But I also got the boys for a day or two to do other needed tasks like helping me dig out grass in the veggie paddock so some new beds could be made. We have been cultivating the lower paddock for six years now, ever so slowly digging out the twitch and couch grass to make room for more vegetables. Bruce & Borja managed to build me a tepee-styled permanent bean growing bed where I planned to grow beans and pumpkins this summer.
Last but not least, no woofer stay is complete without a chance to cut and cull wildly overgrown blackberry!
Ten days after Borja & Connor left, we began another woofer cohort hosting five woofers from around the globe. The daughter of my childhood family friend, Johanna, came to stay for a few days as part of her New Zealand travels. It was so lovely to host her and her friend Rebecca and continue the connection of two families over three generations (Johanna’s grandmother and my mother have been besties for nearly fifty years!). Former Birdsong woofer Sarah, from the US, who started her year-long travels in New Zealand by woofing with us, decided to end her NZ travels by staying with us again. She and her South American boyfriend Marco stayed for two weeks. And we rounded out the group with Rhoda from Hong Kong. The self-proclaimed naturopathic “barefoot doctor” was well versed in many subjects near and dear to our hearts and there was nary a moment without thoughtful conversation. Homeopathy, naturopathy, aromatherapy, nutrition, Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and more were topics de jure.
For three days when all five folks were here, we did a massive blitz in the garden: re-weeding the existing paths and then re-mulching with newspaper and the mountain of bark chips we produced from the September tree felling operation. We filled and carted over a hundred bags of wood chips from the top end of the property to the lower garden. Marco spent several days digging out grass so new paths could be laid. And we planted out the spring seedlings: kale, silverbeet (swiss chard) courgettes (zucchini), beans, pumpkins, and tomatoes. OMG, the garden is really finally starting to come together now that proper pathways are better established!
Then continuing on from Borja and Connor’s start in the massive blackberry patch, Sarah, Marco, Rhoda and I spent four days cutting, hucking, and clearing out piles of blackberry. In order to endure the monotony of this task, we spent hours sharing a multi-cultural perspective on many interesting topics including sex, love, drugs, and ….. more.
And of course with all the hard work, one needs to be kept well fed which was not a problem when you have a sushi chef in the house, Marco, and Rhoda who delighted us with lots of Asian-flavoured cuisine. Rhoda whipped up several delicious dishes including miso soup, tofu, noodles, spring rolls and greens! And a trip down to the wharf where we purchased a fresh salmon allowed Marco to shower us with an array of beautiful and bountiful sushi. I just love it when woofers can cook!
In between working and eating, we do try to have some fun – hikes, talks, movies, etc. A short visit to our neighbor’s place allowed everyone to get up close and personal with the latest additions to the farm: baby lamb and baby calf!
Thank you November cohort for loads of fun! (Trying to get seven people to jump in unison is no easy task as you can see below. So we opted to spell WWOOF)
Right after Rhoda, Johanna, and Rebecca left, Bruce & I jet off across the peninsula to attend a five day vipassana silent-meditation retreat while Sarah & Marco house and Nina-sat for us. This was our second time attending retreat which was a really good opportunity to wind-down and quiet-down after a very highly energetic and intense woofer cohort. After going 100 miles per hour of non-stop talking and socialising, we slammed on the brakes and found ourselves with a group of twenty, meditating seven hours a day, staying silent, and going deeply within. Yin & yang in action! Though my monkey mind took me all over the place, I really enjoyed being in silence, observing my thought patterns, and basking in nature’s beauty.
Despite the rejeuvenation of the meditation retreat, I rolled into December feeling pretty exhausted from the frantic-paced previous three months. In between the woof hosting and travels, there’s regular life to deal with: paying bills, running my weekly yoga & well-being class, continuing to be involved with my friend suffering from extreme mental illness, seeing our friends, serving on the Wainui Residents Association committee (I’m the treasurer), and finding quiet time to spend with Bruce and Nina.
I am also navigating through a new course in my life as I move from the archetype of mother to queen (aka menopause!). My body is a’ changing and it’s a new time for me. I’m experiencing lots of hot flushes at night, not always sleeping well, and feeling more aches and pains in the old’ bod. I don’t have as much strength as I used to and I can’t power through long physical work days. I tire more easily and I need to be more gentle on myself. My type-A workaholic personality is slowly coming to an end as it’s time to really, really, really get more balance in life, to actually swing the pendulum where relaxation and fun outweigh the work-focused and outcome-orientated personality of my life. More painting and crafts, more making time for interesting activities, more chilling out – these are my new mantras. Making time for fun.
And so we rolled into the holidays. Summer + Christmas + New Years usually equals frantic energy but I was determined to chill. Friends Craig, Kat, and Carrie Jo stayed for nearly a week over Christmas and we had a lovely relaxing week of camaraderie filled with delicious meals and soaking up the warm sunshine. Friends Steph & Ali popped through for an overnight post-Christmas and then Bruce & I rang in the new year very, very quietly by making pizza and having cocktails and admiring our view from the veranda of Birdsong! Good bye 2015 – it was a good year!