Three Weeks with Paulo: Burnsong, Bushwhacking, and Breakdancing

I’ve held intention that my life in 2016 be filled with more FUN and so far it seems to be working.  There’s been no lack of entertaining activities this year and the last few weeks brought fun to the foreground when our U.S. friend Paulo Wellman decided to come for a visit.

We’ve known Paulo for six years having met him at a Kiwiburn.   Amiable, good natured, like-minded, and creative, we immediately bonded and have been friends ever since.   He’s woofed and housesat for us several times over the years logging in several months at Birdsong.    Besides his culinary contributions, he always likes to whet his artistic whistle and craft an artistic piece to leave behind.

Paulo decided to come our way after we announced we were hosting a post-Kiwiburn decompression event named Burnsong over Easter weekend.     Paulo flew in a few days before and the festivities began.   Friends flocked to the property and helped prepare it for the one night Burnsong event:  house tidied, food prepared, paths illuminated, artworks commenced, firewood collected, effigy built, Green Fairy erected, fire spinning paraphernalia gathered, and costumes adorned.


Thirty folks gathered for what morphed into a two-day event where we enjoyed the burning of an effigy (paper mache bird) and a temple (paper mache tree).   The weather cooperated beautifully and we all had lot of laughs and a good time together planning and scheming for next year’s Kiwiburn!


After a day of rest, we left Nina in the care of two woofers and Bruce, Kat, Paulo, and I head away a few hours to Arthurs Pass.    Surrounded by magnificent mountains,  Arthurs Pass National Park is located in the heart of the Southern Alps.   We rented a house in the township as our launching pad for several days of hiking.   Paulo and I share an affinity for nature, mountains, and hiking so we were up and out early one morning for a glorious hike up to the Temple Basin ski area where we were treated to stunning views of Mt. Rolleston and the surrounding ranges.   Witnessing the sun rising over the mountains and feeling the warmth on our faces brought great joy to my heart.   When we reached the top of the track we sat alone and enjoyed the glory that enveloped us and we both made a pact to do more hiking!


Later Kat and Bruce joined us and we explored shorter hikes in the township including a walk up to Devils Punchbowl falls where we got up to a few shenanigans.


Friend Logan joined in for a day and we marched out on the Bealey Spur Track through mountain beech forest and out onto the ridge where we could look down the valley at Bruce’s Stream (its’ real name). Later that evening, we celebrated our Bruce’s 51st birthday complete with homemade double layer cake, absinthe drinks, and a dance party!   Whooo wooo!


We separated from Paulo at this stage and Kat, Bruce, and I head back to Birdsong.  Joined by woofers Quinn & Simon, the five of us settled into a busy week of work, woofing, cooking, harvesting, and wood splitting along with meditation, yoga, and walks.    Simon left mid-week and then we were four for only a few short days.

A week after returning from Arthurs Pass, it all ramped back up again.  It was time for friend Lucy to come out from Christchurch to teach my Monday morning yoga & dance class with the Wainui ladies and Lucy usually comes out the day before to have an overnight with us. Lucy rang to say that her cousin Alexander was visiting from Finland and could she bring him and his partner Julia with her to Birdsong for the night.   Of course!    Paulo also said he was on his way to spend his last few days in New Zealand with us.     Whoa, we went from four to eight and a spontaneous party ensued.    Alexander is a trained breakdance performer and Julia is a trained salsa dancer, so you can guess where this all led after a few drinks and social niceties.    The couches were pushed aside, the carpet rolled up, and the breakdancing and salsa bonanza began!!    The photos don’t do justice so you’ll just have to use your imagination in seeing Bruce and others learning how to breakdance on the living room floor!

After Lucy and family left the next day, we were back to five for the next 48 hours until Paulo had to leave for his return to the States.   There was one last thing to accomplish which was for Paulo to leave his artistic mark at Birdsong.   I have been holding vision to create a meditative space around our Papa Totora tree which Kat discovered on the property a few years ago.   Nestled in the bush, this elderly statesman of a tree had been concealed from us for years.    Regal and strong, everyone loves sitting and being near this tree and I’d been wanting to create proper seats around it.     Making use of the felled gum tree trunks from September, Quinn, Paulo and Bruce got to work cutting three large rounds off the trunk.  The rounds were sanded, Paulo etched OM symbols into them, and then they were varnished and left to cure overnight.   The next day Paulo and Quinn, with the use of a hand truck/dolly, moved each heavy slab up and over the ridge to Papa Totora.   We got out the prayer flags and other sacred objects and did a ceremony together blessing the space and the land.

On the eve of Paulo’s last night, we had a fine celebration of good food, good drink, and an evening of performance with Kat & Paulo busting out some rhymes and then the five of us learning a gospel acapella song.    We were full to the brim of being present, delighting in each other’s company, and enjoying the richness and fullness of life.  Thank you Paulo for visiting again, being part of our tribe, and helping co-create such fantastic experiences.    Till next time!