A bird does not sing because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.
Today winter has really struck with gale force, bitterly cold south easterlies and driving rain showers. Over the past few weeks I have been tying apples to a kowhai tree to provide some winter food for the small Silvereyes or Waxeyes that live in and around the garden.
They are amazing to watch as they hang on to the apple or string and cleverly peck the soft flesh from the gap made by my apple corer. At times they virtually disappear within the apple once they have removed a good portion of the fruit.
I have felt in need of some soothing today after a week so far that has been very challenging on many levels. I turned to my garden and took this photo of our Camellia “Quintessence”. The tag off the plant says “ Miniature single white blooms with white filaments and yellow anthers. Sweet musky fragrance. Early to mid season. Slow spreading bush.”
This is our second “Quintessence”. I checked the meaning of the word quintessence after we first purchased this delicately flowered shrub and knew our choice was an appropriate one.
The dictionary offered me two meanings: “ Fifth substance, apart from four elements, composing the heavenly bodies, entirely and latent in all things.”
“Most essential part of any substance, refined extract; purest and most perfect form, manifestation or embodiment of some quality or class.”
I needed the “fifth substance” after the four elements: water (floods in New South Wales), earth ( yet more earthquakes in Christchurch), air ( troubled by volcanic ash ) and fire ( a spate of arson attacks in the past week or more) have dominated lives. It was helpful to spend time looking at the flowers, enjoying their beauty and noting the new growth that has occurred despite something nibbling on the leaves. I felt more at peace.
I planned a day at home, taking it easy and the autumn weather has meant it was a good decision and an easy option. It has been dark, cloudy, very gusty and the autumn leaves have been scattering.
So what have been the scattering of activities of my day?
A prayer and good wishes to the people of Christchurch early this morning as I learnt that two nasty aftershocks had rocked that ravaged city early this morning. One shock was large enough to cause a brief power outage. I wish those tired, stressed people so much peace.
Humming Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi” which we learnt at singing last night.
Monitoring PG, the cat to determine his intake and output. The vet was happy today to let him track on in the hope that the extra fluid interventions he has had on Monday and Tuesday this week had helped him regain his appetite. More monitoring is required just in case he needs another sub-cutaneous bolus of fluid tomorrow.
Watching more tree felling happening in our neighbour’s backyard.
Finishing a small knitted toy and trying to embroider a face on said toy……more practice needed on that skill, but the end result is good enough.
Hearing on the radio that it is 25 years since Paul Simons’ “Graceland” album was released and singing along to some of the familiar tracks off that.
More synchronicities found in the blogosphere as I find links between several blogs that I enjoy reading and one written by a woman who taught me my first computer skills way back in the late 80’s. The course was called “Computer Confidence for Women” and was nothing short of brilliant.
Collecting two books from the library which look particularly interesting for where I find myself these days.
And I took a few photos in my garden this afternoon but for some reason WordPress is not playing the upload game right now and I need to go and prepare some dinner…..
Between September 2007 and September 2008 I took a photo on our new digital camera every day in order to record a year in my life. Why did I do this?
I had experienced some life changing and life threatening events in rather close succession and wanted to track my return to “normal” life, whatever shape that took. At the same time I took the photo and printed it off I would make a few notes about what the photo meant to me on that day. So I hoped that by describing, recording and reflecting I would gain some sense of who I was following the upheaval and change.
With hindsight more time had to pass for me to process the events but several other benefits flowed from this project. I felt a real sense of satisfaction in keeping to a daily record of my life; it is a valuable record of that year when we are trying to remember something that happened at that time; I enjoyed developing my visual senses; I became more aware of light and its many qualities and nuances; it kept me in touch with life and a sense that life does move on, no matter what emotions need to be felt and what healing needs to occur; it reminded me of my love of the funny and quirky, of my cats and of nature, my family and friends.
My life feels very ordinary but my interest in family history has taught me time and again that records from the past of ordinary lives can offer huge amounts of valuable information that help us understand how life was years ago and increases our sense of connection to family from the past.
There are many ways that people record their lives. How do you record yours?
I sat next to an 86 year old woman at our local genealogy group last night and learnt that she had emigrated from the UK in 1949 as a young woman in her twenties. She had travelled light thinking she would only stay two years and return to her homeland. Instead she married, had a family and settled here. She has only managed two trips back to the UK since 1949.
With utter delight she showed me two photos that she had just received via the internet of her as a baby with her parents and sisters and another of her extended family. She explained that she had not thought to bring any photos with her when she left the UK and after her Mum died, her Dad burnt most of the photos and papers because he did not want other people digging through their private matters. She had long given up hope of ever having any photos of those earlier times.
A small subscription to a genealogical website resulted in a connection being made from UK to New Zealand from a distantly related family. My new friend proudly stood before our group and told of her wonderful “find” . She glowed with happiness.
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.
I’d be interested in your thoughts on it all.