Thanks Anymont for reminding me about my blog. As I mentioned back in October, My Garden blog is going on the backburner for a couple of years because Himself and I will live offshore on account of my work. Number 2 Son and his family will look over our place. Today he was out restoring order in the jungle that was once my reasonably orderly vegetable garden. He’s head-gardener now. He’ll make this his patch and do his thing. Don’t expect him to write a blog. Unbelievably for someone who’s stared at a screen for years as an IT web developer, he now prefers such physical pursuits. I have been thinking how best to stay in touch with different groups of people at different levels. It’s easy enough to set up another blog for the travel aspect. There’s a plethora of web-based communication tools (that I’ve not used) to choose from. I guess I’ll get organised eventually.
It’s been so dry lately - but, it is summer after all. Things have grown since I last wrote and I have been harvesting the produce. But, we’ve enjoyed the purple cabbages – it should be obligatory for every gardener to have these show-off vegetables in their gardens. The pure richness of the purple and the graceful spread of the large ribbed leaves have been a visual delight. The scarlet-splotched Borlotti Beans and Purple Beans are just as amazing. I love colour in the garden as much as I love colour on the plate. And my new potatoes planted a few months ago – what can I say? Just steam and add freshly picked chopped mint. Savour the taste sensation.
Mindful I won’t see my brothers and sister for a while, we spent a few days on the road before New Year. We stayed a couple of nights with my sister and her husband at Coromandel. We typically have a barbeque (always others are invited to this) when we stay there. As they live on the coast, B-in-law and my nephews had dredged fresh scallops and gathered rock oysters. No restaurant anywhere could compete for the freshness and flavour of this food. The scallops were lightly seared in a touch olive oil with a hint of lemon juice and pepper. The oysters were simply steamed.
They had also hunted wild pig on the mountain range – the boundary at the back of their hill country farm. We’re used to eating wild pork and prefer the lean meat and its gamey flavour to farmed pork. The wild pigs come out of the dense bush at dawn to dig for the rhizomous fern roots that grow freely at the margin of the farmed land. These pigs really do make a mess of farm pastures. They are considered to be pests. Other than fresh rosemary or thyme, pepper and olive oil, we do little else when cooking this game meat on a BBQ. B-in-law had also proudly dug the first of his Urenika (blue potaotes) crop from seeds I’d given him a couple of years ago. These Maori potatoes are the perfect accompaniment – oh, and the NZ Pinot we were drinking.
Next on the itinerary was a stop with each of my brothers in the the Waikato. More food. More wine. Lots of chat. It was the first occasion we’d got together since Mum’s funeral in May. My sister, and Uncle (Mum’s brother) and Aunt, joined us for a special lunch at the farm we grew up on (now owned by my youngest brother) before we scattered Mum’s ashes over the paddock where Dad’s ashes are. No ceremony. No fuss. This was a happy spot for them. They’re together eternally in a place that also has special memories and meaning for us their four children. Now, that chapter of our lives is over. The closure was as it should be. The important thing is we honour Mum’s wish we stay in touch with each other. For the moment, we must move on.
We agreed we’re all facing significant life changes. My nephews are at various stages of their young adult journeys with girlfriends entering the scene. My brothers and their wives are in a state of flux as they are acutely feeling the redundancy of their parental roles. My sister and I told them that their ‘boys’ will be back! If not for money and food! But, they’ll be back – for babysitting services. My older five grandchildren are involved with their friends, sports and schoolwork. It chokes me to know I’ll miss the growth of the four-month, one and two year olds though. However, it’s time for their grandfather and I to do our thing.
Mum, before she died, was most interested that I was considering an overseas teaching contract. I accepted the offer and anticipate leaving NZ at the end of this month. There’s been so much to do and to think about. The qualities and attributes I’ve developed as a gardener in caring for the soil, the plant life and microorganisms, will stand me in good stead in my new work. I’ll need to be curious, flexible, observant, patient, reflective, resilient, resourceful, receptive to new ideas. It’s a privilege through blogging to have been able to glimpse over others’ backyard fences into their lives. Take a glimpse into Te Parapara Maori Garden in Hamiton City in the Waikato – my backyard so to speak. Te Ara Whakatauki, the Path of Proverbs, reminds us that as the plants that we eat nourish our bodies, so the words that we hear nourish our souls. In New Zealand, Maori have many sayings that beautifully illustrate the range of human experience and knowledge.
Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive