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A Winter Holiday
It is funny how you see a colour in a photo, then read some words and somehow they click, evoking a memory which you thought was long gone. The colour, is red, blurred, out of focus, stretched. A finger bump in a pocket that captured a hue unnoticed. It has shape and texture which could mean a million things, open to many interpretations, if you allow your mind to wander. It struck me as something, what I did not know but it felt good to feel curious about something after what has for been a very harsh and isolating winter. Winter has been an enforced hibernation as I muddle through grief. One is bad enough, both together does seem cruel at times.
The words came from Dan Pearson. He is someone you can rely on for a good collection of words and to escape into his word is a guilty pleasure of mine. He writes with heart and soul and with an eye which observes things that I hope as I grow I will develop. He has been gardening for longer than I so I feel he has a head start. The book I was romping through was ‘Spirit - Garden Inspiration’. An old library copy now a second hand copy, it’s barcode still included - I weirdly like that I have abandoned library books from various parts of the world in my growing garden bookshelf. This one is from Essex County Library. Part of me wants to know who else has read this book.
The forward is by Beth Chatto, and I am envious that Dan had such friends who have guided him on his gardening and writing journey. I have my own gardening friends who guide me along who I treasure but you know, Beth Chatto. Her intro is written in her comforting reassuring manner and starts the book off in a wise tone. The narrative is various sources of inspiration that Dan has encountered on his travels. The images are his own. I delight in seeing NZ mentioned. He appreciates the land like I do. New Zealand is both an old and new land - ghosts from the past seem to whisper loudly every time you are in the landscape alone. Reading his words I think he felt this too. It is a unique observation. Reading his words you see how his eye has developed as a garden designer from the luxury of exploring the world. He shares his images as a way of sharing his experiences. They are not flashy photos, just quiet moments that feel significant.
The one that prompted a connection to my blurred red photo was his reference to Anish Kappor ‘Maryas’ a huge bulbous sculpture which was in the Tate museum many years ago (2002 to be precise). The sculpture was huge, filling the Turbine Hall and as Dan noted ‘ Looking up, you were reduced to the size of an insect, caught within a vast flower..” . A very true description.
For me seeing this image again was a flash back to a past memory. Of me, maybe I was 25, living in England as a young kiwi abroad doing her OE experience. We went to see this art piece crammed into a hall. It is size and scope just blew me away, more so because art on such a scale was new to me. I was young and off shore. The land where my feet, at the time, were planted was one of so much history and art than I had encountered before, at times it was overwhelming. More often than not I felt like a hick. The little kiwi. But for all my youth and my naivety I could see and sense something amazing here. It was something that stopped you in your tracks, encouraged wonder like all good art does. It raised questions and expanded my little bubble that I had been living in. I love that all these years later I can still remember that awe that I felt.
Seeing this colour and reading about this image, made me reflect, naturally. Memories associated with youth will naturally find yourself viewing it with rose tinted glasses. To be traveling again would be wonderful. To be traveling as a young person, oh, that would be amazing. But then I think I want to travel with my wisdom, with my knowledge, with my camera. I want to travel again feeling comfortable in my desire to just observe life, rather than dashing to tourist hot spots.
All from a blurred photo.
To say the weather has been awful is an understatement. It has rained so often that when it stops it feels weird not to hear it on the roof. There was a moment when it did stop over the weekend. It was clear. I stood at the window in the kitchen looking out over the garden and noticed the birds out on the lawn. Searching for food. I notice the bees in in the garden in the summer and the birds in winter. The garden belongs to the birds at this time of year.
We took a holiday. Three days. It felt like a luxury, it has been so long since we had been away together. Pre Covid, June or July, sometimes August saw us travel to the northern hemisphere, to warmer climes. We’ve missed the sun at this time of year and plans have been made to start avoiding future winters. We normally do a big holiday in our winter as our beekeeping commitments keep us busy over summer. So to take a short winter break felt odd as much for the fact that it was winter as it was for the fact we could travel after a couple of years of lockdown.
The plan was to head to Lake Tekapo, inland from us, surrounded by mountains. We wanted to relax, go for walks, star gaze (Lake Tekapo is a dark sky space) and visit the hot pools. Reading, eating well etc were included - a no brainer as we have travelled together for so many years it is no longer discussed, it is just known. We just fall into an easy rhythm together when we are away. One of conversations not had when you are rambling through a week of work. On holiday you can share observations and musings because you have slowed down and can see life a bit clearer as you are not distracted by work or dogs or life.
We took the coast road north and then headed inland after a visit to a bee supply shop. The weather was a bit frighful with wind gusts as we headed north turning to rain as we headed inland. A pie in Fairlie was lunch. It felt ominous heading inland with dark skies, visible rain and snow. The number of cars heading out to the coast as we headed inland didn’t provide us with much comfort. We legitimately were worried we would get stuck there due to the weather. But as we drove closer the fears were pushed aside as we just feel for the beauty of the land that was around us.
It had been a long time since we had been to this part of the world. Last time was a Christmas and we left to go a pick our new puppy, Atlas. Atlas who will be turning 8 this year. So a long time. The area has changed as areas do. More houses had been built including the place we stayed in. The hillsides slowly becoming covered in houses as people stake claim to land with a view. We arrived unpacked and just sat looking at the world around us. The view, across the lake had snow covered mountains around it. These mountains appeared and disappeared from view as the rain came and went. We relaxed, that delicious relaxed you feel after traveling. It’s all you can do.
The sky remained over cast during our stay so no star gazing. The next days saw a late start (no dogs). Chats with friends and family, birthday wishes shared. A fry up breakfast at the local. A walk in the rain and then the afternoon unfolded in the hot pools. It was where everyone was. Parents on school holidays grateful for something to do since the local ski fields were closed due to bad weather. The place was full of life. There was a moment, a shared reaction everyone felt, as you danced from the changing rooms into the outdoors in your swim suit fully aware of the single figure temperature and then you stepped into the 38 degree pool and relief to be warm.
A gently rain was falling and then the temperature dropped and it started to snow. A quiet few snowdrops, bringing squeals of delight from people in the hot pools. The collective awareness of magical moment. And we thought it was just a moment of snow but it stayed, quietly intensifying until it covered the surrounding hills and trees, the snowdrops becoming fatter and more steady as they fall. I love looking up into falling snow it feels so delightfully dizzying. We try to catch them in our hands but our bodies are too warm from the hot pools. Some catch in eyebrows and hair. A hush falls across the pool as we just appreciate the beauty of the moment.
Let’s keep in touch.