The community I live in has a large number of interconnected walkways. Many of these take the walker well away from busy roads which is a bonus.
One of my favourite sections of walkway tracks along the base of a hill. There is a small stream that runs alongside the path and the hill and the hill is wooded with regenerating native bush and introduced plants and trees.
One the other side of the path is a school playground and then the backyards and gardens of people’s houses. A walk along this path offers me such a variety of interesting sights and experiences. I can enjoy the sounds and activities of the children at school if they are out of the classroom. I can listen to the sounds of the stream and the various calls and songs of the diversity of bird life, both native and introduced.
I can also enjoy the changes in plants, flowers and trees in the gardens.
I often chose to return home up a steep zigzag path that climbs the hill. Over the spring and summer I was delighted to see several native pigeons or Kereru. These are newer visitors (or hopefully residents) to this area. Tuis, Fantails and Grey Warblers are often to be heard amidst the sounds of sparrows, blackbirds and thrushes.
At the moment the hill is dotted with splashes of intense autumn colour as the leaves on the flowering cherry trees turn and drop. The native bush is lush and green and very damp smelling as nature produces humus from the falling leaves and twigs.
I can feel a long way from the busyness of life and its stresses and strains as I walk this route. I return home with my senses revitalised and my energy boosted.
Since I became a grandmother recently I have been thinking a lot about why all members of the baby’s extended family have spent a lot of time gazing at old and new photos.
The new photos are of the baby and we all admire him and comment on how much he has grown and changed already. We also search for physical similarities, such as “does he have his mother’s eyes?”, “does he have my nose?”, “will he be tall like his maternal grandfather?”
The old photos are of adults in his life. His father, aunty and uncle, his grandparents and great grandparents. We seem to need to connect with all of these people when they were babies or young children but for reasons not readily explained.
To be healthy human beings we need someone to hold our story for us as we grow up. It is essential to us developing a sense of belonging. At first it is to the immediate family, to the history of the family and over time to the cultural group and the community. All this helps to provide us with a sense of security and an increased ability to face the world and its challenges.
And there has been plenty of story telling as well as photo gazing.
So maybe we have all been adjusting to a shift in the history of our extended family with the arrival of this wee chap and to our new roles in the family. Maybe we have been stopped by his arrival and need to contemplate our time as babies that we can only grasp from photos. I don’t know.
I also wonder how it would be if we had no photos to refer to.