Thursday, Apr. 8, 2010. 00:08 AM
Carterton, New Zealand
Feeling of contentment. I’m at the home of my friend Rowan, Wwoofing with her mother Anne, who’s a doctor in the final two weeks of her 28 year practice at the medical center here in Carterton. Downsizing rather than retiring, she will still tend to her hospital duties, yet she will have more time to devote to other pursuits. Rowan’s dad is off diving in Fiordland, so unfortunately I won’t meet him this time ’round, which incidentally leaves me here on my own during the days. They don’t actually take many Wwoofers due to their busy schedules (he’s a doctor too), but they did recently have two English boys, their first time away from home, who wouldn’t leave for two and half months! They acquired the nicknames Sam and Froto.
Yesterday it was rainy and Anne was working till late, so I was instructed to make myself at home, with Amber the dog and Simi the cat to keep me company. It couldn’t have been a better day to play house and enjoy the simple pleasures of the beautiful country: eating chook eggs straight from the hen house, airing out my wet tent in the barn, taking a blissful shower to warm my bones, making-up my b&b room, brewing espresso, listening to records, doing my laundry, stoking the fire in the lounge, and giggling at family photos of one of my dearest New Zealand friends, called Rose by her mom…
My only other request was to make tea (evening meal), which was a delightful opportunity! Such nice cast-iron skillets and gas stove to work with, sharp knives & voluptuous garden outside to plunder! Crimson tomatoes from the glasshouse, peas and beans, aubergine and capsicum, cucumber and whatever GIANT courgettes turn into, silverbeet and red lettuce, lemons for lemonade…
Anne came home and we chatted over a glass of wine, she expressed sincere thanks for a warm house and tea to come home to, we enjoyed our sup (everything curry, rice, papadum & salad), and talked till late. I was amazed that after a long day of work she’d have so much energy for me, but it turns out she’s quite prolific as well as a night-owl, so we got nicely acquainted.
Today I fed the chooks, let them out to roam, and weeded the garden and its paths. It was incredible to just slow-down and sink my fingers into soil, get dirt in my fingernails, as well as in my hair and ears. I cleared four wheel-barrows full of weeds, put them into compost, savored the peaceful quiet of the day. I chatted with the doddering old dog, mischievous puking cat, and the four comic chooks. Sun shined, clouds rolled, raindrops fell. I walked among the sheep in the paddocks (which they lease out for grazing), but otherwise was fixed on my light work, punctuated by coffee breaks with frank zappa, the bee-gees and peter frampton singing sgt. pepper’s, and lou reed on the phonograph.
As if my day wasn’t meditative enough, Anne and I went to a proper meditation at a friend’s house in the evening, which was spectacular. Just three of us sat around the soothing hearth of a wood burner, accompanied by a ticking clock and a single fly. These could-be distractions actually put wind in my sails. I touched noses with Axl Rose, light and energy from all around the universe ripped through my third eye, I felt no numbness, deep breathing came easy, I was relaxed. At the end I asked how long we meditated for, and while it was supposedly 40 minutes, it felt like no more than 15.
Back home, we made mushroom risotto, garlic break and fresh-picked salad. We drank delicious white wine from up the road. We baked bread. We talked of culture, politics, family, friends, matrimony, music, books, art on the wall, travel, the excitement of life, free time. Free time.
A funny thing was that at bed time, after thanking her for the nice evening, she apologized for talking too much – so untrue as she never talked at me, and it was ever so interesting! After being told recently by somebody that I talk too much, and even that Americans talk too much (which I have noticed at times) and I’m embarrassed to corroborate, I think I’m back in learning mode again.
Tomorrow I will finish up in the garden, borrow the ute (pickup truck), go on a tramp in the local hills, and hopefully introduce myself to another Wwoof farmer in town who sounds like a real character I’d like to know. I was going to hitch a ride to Napier on Friday morning (265km away), to catch-up with three French cyclists I crossed a ridiculously fun and challenging mountain pass with on the way here, but now I hope I’ll get caught-up here for a bit. Yet another interesting Wwoofer lives not far away too, in a straw-bale and earth home… As usual, I always find good reasons to slow down and see what gems I can stumble upon along the unhurried way. The cold weather is approaching, but I won’t let that rush me. That is what this is all about for me. I am right here.
Addendum: Here are a few snaps from my late morning tramp today, just down the road. Things didn’t work out with the other Wwoofers (they’re all taking holiday this week, so I might as well too! Off to hitch towards Tongariro National Park in the morning to tramp and camp under 3 volcanoes and Mt. Doom!