Winter solstice is today. The longest night of the year. It’s pouring rain right now. It’s fantastic.
I had a great day today and am in such a good mood. Just a regular day: bussed into town to get my hair cut & colored by a groovy hip salonist that I liked; met friend Briar for a leisurely lunch and tea at the YaYa Teahouse; had a nice stroll through the park on the way home. Normal regular stuff.
I finally feel like we’re settling down and getting into a routine after what has been several crazy months of travel and running around. We’re stabilizing. This is good since we’re actually going to be destabilizing shortly as we spend the next two months in San Francisco attending two weddings, seeing family, and visiting with lots of friends. Bruce left two days ago and I leave next week. But I’m ready, so I have lots of time from now till then (6 days) to actually relax, chill, and center myself.
The last two months have been quite good as we continue with the whole homeschooling mission.
A large amount of time and energy went into the hospitality & community building bucket. We had three sets of visitors in a very short time span, each staying for two nights. Mark Stirling, the NZ Regional Burning Man rep from Wellington came down with his son for a work visit and stayed with us. It was great to catch up with him. Grant Knowles, the former Kiwiburn organizer from Golden Bay and his girlfriend Claire popped in and we spent two great evenings chatting and sipping wine over some great home cooked meals.
We had a bit of ‘star-struckness’ as we got to host David Holmgren and his partner Su Dennett at our house for a few days. David Holmgren is THE co-originator along with Bill Mollison of the permaculture concept back in the late 70’s. He’s, like, famous and was on a world tour to talk about Climate Change, Peak Oil, and Permaculture, the gist of which he says there needs to be a big behavioral shift in the populace with a focus on: permaculture as a lifestyle, growing & using food, community reliance, a reclaiming of the neighborhoods, a reduction of dependence on dollars and a shift toward barter/green dollars; the reuse and recycling of goods; and a connection to nature. He gave a two hour evening lecture and then a full day workshop which both Bruce & I attended. And we got a few hours of personalized private time with them on the morning of their departure. Dave took a walk around our property and gave us some pointers as to what we could do to improve/greenify it and we all went along for a lovely walk into Riccarton Bush to look at native grove of ancient kahikatea trees.
In addition to housing guests, we’ve been guests ourselves. As mentioned in previous posts, we flew up to Waiheke Island for Dave & Ingrid’s wedding; were recently up in the mountains for Lucy’s 30th birthday; and we also did an overnight with Briar, Merlyn, Caitlin, and Arianna to Hinewai Reserve on the Banks Peninsula. Hinewai Reserve is a 1050 ha (2000+ acre) privately funded and managed reserve for the protection and restoration of native vegetation and wildlife run the last 20 years by the knowledgeable Hugh Wilson. There’s a rustic cabin that sleeps fifteen available for a nominal fee and heaps of great hiking trails in this regenerating forest. We were there for two glorious days in April. I hiked by myself (the first time ever) from the bottom of the valley back to the cabin (about six-seven km) passing through groves of manuka/kanuka trees and yellow-flowering gorse bushes, serenaded by fantails and New Zealand wood pigeon, and admiring the gorgeous views.
In between all this running around, we managed to sneak away for a few days to celebrate our ten year anniversary! Off into the mountains in Lewis Pass, we spent three nights at the Maruia Springs Thermal Resort and delighted in the indoor & outdoor Japanese-styled baths and enjoyed the quietness and peacefulness of our surroundings. Definitely worth a visit!
And we managed to host a couple of events at our house including another ex-pats gathering which was highly attended and a movie night featuring documentary short films that people had done. Briar, Genevieve, Nikki, Gerar, and Bruno all had personal contributions and we saw a cool professional short called The Street Cleaner by Amba’s US friend Jody. This film has won numerous awards in the States and is making the docu circuit and its New Zealand debut was met with great approval by the nine of us!
On the spiritual front, we’ve seen two really good thought provoking films recently that have been making their way, it seems, around the country and the world. The Secret seems to be sweeping the nation. Quite controversial, everyone seems to have an opinion about it. And the majority who’ve seen it seem to like it. Positive thinking; we manifest our realities. It’s no secret. If people who watch it then believe that they have control over their lives, then that could only be a good thing. It can be a wake up call for the mainstream masses. The other film is called Ram Dass: Fierce Grace, which partially tells the story of his journey from being a young wealthy ivy league educated American professor to becoming one of the most well known spiritual teachers of the 70’s; and partially focuses on his current life and spiritual journey of living as an aged person after ‘being stroked’ in 1997. For anyone interested in spirituality, consciousness, etc, both of these are a must see. And we have made it a few times across town to attend the weekly Oneness Deekshas. A Oneness Deeksha or Oneness Blessing is a transfer of energy allowing the recipient to journey into a state of higher consciousness. It’s pretty amazing. What happens exactly? Well, a group of ten or so of us gather at someone’s warm, comfortable house. We sit in a circle and do a one hour guided chakra meditation. Then, the hosts, who have traveled to India and have been ‘trained’ to give a blessing, will go around and put their hands on your head and do a five minute blessing. Similar in concept to Reiki, they are a vessel for transmitting energy from the universe to you. After receiving your blessing, you lay down for ten minutes to relax and afterwards we all share a cup of tea and go home. The whole thing is takes about two hours. I’ve received blessings three times now – and each time afterwards I’ve felt re-energized and just more ‘on’ and a little more ‘open’. When we get back from the States we will make a point of going more regularly – I’m hooked!
On the gardening side of things, it’s been quite a busy time. The above photos show the garden during May. The leaves are turning on the trees, and the garden is still producing zucchini, celery, a few peppers, and broccoli!
There’s no end to the amount of pruning that needs to be done. Roses, the grape vine, the apple trees, and just about every shrub/tree in the yard needed some work done to it. And certain crops get planted now for late spring/summer harvest. Garlic, broad beans (fava beans) and strawberries all have gone in along with a bunch of tulip bulbs as I really want to see a floral bouquet in the garden come spring. Green crops (lupine, mustard, and grains) get planted now too – these types of plants serve to add nitrogen to the soil (nitrogen fixers); when they’re nice and leafy, they’ll get chopped down and turned into the soil, thereby releasing the important nitrogen into the ground which will be needed by all the yummy veggies that will get planted in spring. Below are photos of the pruned grape vine, the bees out on a sunny day, and our fine leaf mould (last years’ leaves decomposed into a fine brown humus which we use as mulch!)
I managed to double the size of the veggie gardens and added five new beds for a total of nine individual beds. I created an ‘herb garden’ in one area complete with lavender, rosemary, echinacea, heartsease, stevia, mint, and a Chilean guava plant. Hyssop got planted over by the grape vine as it is a companion plant for vines and more importantly, the blooms are quite attractive to bees!
Finally, here’s the garden as of yesterday. We’re harvesting the last bit of celery (we’ve had weekly batches of celery soup!), a few onions are growing, and the winter brassicas are coming along (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage).
And, very exciting news, we now are the proud owners of an electric lawn mower and Bruce has taken over the caretaking of the lawn. We decided that we didn’t need to employ the use of a gardener since all we had him doing was the grass cutting and he didn’t even haul it away anymore (we use it as mulch). So once the decision was made, Bruce walked down to the corner lawnmower store and walked home with a used mower. He first tried the gas mowers but didn’t like all the fumes, so an electric one we got. A few extension cords and he’s able to get all around the yard!
Lastly, one of the biggest areas we’ve put a lot of energy into is in our land search.
We spent a lot of time in April & May out on the Banks Peninsula familiarizing ourselves with the region and looking at properties. It was an exhausting emotional exercise that warrants its own post, so I’ll stop here. To be continued…..
So that’s life. We’re grooving, we’re stabilizing, we’re getting ready for another road trip…… Onward ho!