Monthly Archives: August 2011

Generations and constancy

I wonder if you have a familiar spot that you stop at whenever you are traveling to a certain destination.

We do. For almost 40 years we have traveled frequently to and from Hawkes Bay to visit family.

I am not sure how we learnt about the Deer Park in Dannevirke but it is the spot that we stop at regularly on the trip between Wellington and Hawkes Bay. It is correctly named the Dannevirke Holiday Park which incorporates wildlife areas, including the Deer Park.

Deer Park Dannevirke, New Zealand

Over the time we and other family members have stopped at this scenic spot to have a picnic lunch, a cup of tea and to stretch cramped legs, very little, if anything about this location has changed. And nothing needs to be changed.

There are the deer enclosures, lovely shady trees, shelter from the prevailing winds, a lake, a large bird aviary full of noisy and colourful birds to enjoy and flocks of hungry ducks and guinea fowl to feed…..or fend off the food you are eating!

The park is off the main highway, so offers a safe and restful place to refresh, stretch and take time away from long distance driving and travel.

On our holiday last week we stopped for lunch at the Deer Park on our trip up to Hawkes Bay and on the return journey. While we were there I thought about how my parents had stopped on similar journeys with their grandchildren and how those grandchildren are adults now and remember this spot fondly.

Gran and grandson at the Deer Park, January 1985

I also laughed about our status as grandparents now and although our grandson was not with us I could just picture him running after the ducks, feeding them bits of his lunch, wondering about and enjoying the birds in the aviary, exploring the bridge over the lake and watching and learning about deer, just as his Dad, Aunty and Uncle all did in earlier years.

So for me last week there was a sense of time and people passing, new roles undertaken contrasted with timelessness and constancy.

I’d be interested in knowing about your familiar spot that is a part of the broader weave of your family.

Water and walking

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post we stayed in a cottage just out of Masterton, close to Henley Lake. This fresh water lake is extensive and the surrounding park area has various paths to follow.

You can see from the photo that the day was glorious. It was warm, sunny and calm that afternoon. Sometimes in my country the blue sky has a dramatic intensity to it and a vastness that makes me feel like a very small dot in the universe. It was one of those days as we walked for an hour enjoying the large numbers of waterfowl, birds and the soothing properties of the water around us.

There is evidence on some of the paths indicating that regenerative planting has been done with more planned.
My time here in such a beautiful environment certainly eased the stress and busyness I had been feeling as I packed to leave for our holiday.

Monday catch up

So what has been going on in my ordinary world? The past two weeks have certainly offered some very extraordinary times as well as the ordinary and mundane.
 From the evening of Sunday 14th August until Tuesday 16th August we experienced 3 dramatic snowfalls. Snow fell in our garden overnight in 1995 but it is extreme weather that brings it this close to sea level. This event was at the high end of extreme and the snow lay in patches on the local hills a week later.
 Once the snow clouds had moved on, the rain clouds arrived on the back of freezing gale force winds and it rained almost incessantly for four days. We were very thankful for the heater that powered on through numerous power surges.

 In the midst of this our cat who has had indifferent health for over a year now needed to have a fleet of tests. The final ones required x-rays and ultrasound to be taken. The skilful vet was able to aspirate a fluid filled cyst on the side of the cat’s pancreas and we crossed our fingers that this would perk him up. This cat should be named “Trooper” because that is what he is. He has more than used up 9 lives and has pulled through many different ailments and injuries. It is a joy to see him looking so much better.
 For now the cat is looking chipper, feeling comfortable, eating well and reminding me constantly of how strong the life force can be. Here he is in healthier times enjoying the new carpet and a gentle breeze wafting up the hallway.

 We had booked a short holiday from 22nd August, returning 26th August. The weather shone upon us every day with intense blue skies, sunshine and warmth.
 We stayed for two nights in a cottage just out of Masterton and really enjoyed walking around Henley Lake and the next day visiting the stunning Pukaha, Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre.
 On Wednesday we traveled through the northern part of the Wairarapa and on to Hastings where we stayed in another cottage on a lifestyle block. This part of the trip saw us visit my elderly father-in-law and enjoy a meal out with him and other local family.
 We headed home on Friday, having to make a detour back to Pahiatua to get across the high hills to the western side of our island. The detour was caused by a massive slip in the Manawatu Gorge, shutting the road we would normally travel. The slip was a result of the snow and heavy rain that our island had experienced the previous week, coupled with very unstable rock and soil in that steep sided gorge.
 Unfortunately we have all returned home with a virus causing two of the three of us a reasonably high degree of misery. Our weekend was a very quiet one to help enable us to heal up.
 Evidence of spring was everywhere on our holiday. Most visible were the numbers of lambs in fields, daffodils in clusters and clumps and blossom on trees. The photo below is ornamental plum blossom in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay. By the time we returned spring was showing its face more strongly in our garden too.

“Nature’s first green is gold……

I have had a poem on my mind for days now. Despite the very, very wintry weather we have been experiencing here since last Sunday night, there are signs everywhere that spring is not far away.
I have noticed, in particular, that the willow tree branches are either turning golden or have a russet gold hue. My father quoted Robert Frost’s powerful poem on this phenomenon around this time of the year, just a few weeks before his death in September 1989.

“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day,
Nothing gold can stay.” Robert Frost.

We read this poem at his memorial service.

But this year it speaks to me doubly as we watch one of our cats require increased supportive care from the vet and under go more tests as we try to determine the cause of his lack of appetite, high inflammation levels and spells of general malaise, despite our love and best efforts at home.

Spring with its vitality and message of new life can be harsh when events in that season tell of the opposite.

Winter or spring?

We very rarely experience snow falling where we live but for the past two days we have had some very cold weather, straight off the Antarctic ice shelf which has delivered several heavy snow falls.

At the same time there are signs of spring in the garden. One of them is the branches on the Japanese maple turning rich red.

Here is the tree showing its determination for new growth under the burden of icy droplets formed by the falling snow.

Saturday Tip: Tips for mothers of new babies 1954 and 1986

In a New Zealand Plunket Baby Record book dated 1954 there are 12 needs listed for a baby.

Numbers 5 and 11 tell us something of the advice that was given to mothers back then:

“BATHING – Bath and dress very quickly in a cosy corner. No dawdling

MANAGEMENT – Fond and foolish over-indulgence, mismanagement and “spoiling” may be as harmful to an infant as callous neglect and intentional cruelty.”

In comparison in 1986 the Baby’s Health and Development book had this advice:

” It takes time to love and understand your baby. Most of all, your baby needs you to be nice to him. He loves to smell and touch your skin.

Whenever your bath and change him, he loves hugs and kisses, smiles and songs, and talk.”

Sunday Quote: Alan Bennett on reading

The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours. – Alan Bennett