I put down the cat’s food and she nudges me just to butter me up so the food keeps coming. Next, she looks out her cat door window, tail lashing, to make sure any predatory cat food stealers are intimidated before returning to her dish of food and looking at it with high suspicion. “Is today the day they finally poison me?” Another look out the cat door window and she settles to eat as though if she doesn’t get it all down in a hurry it might get up and run away like the creatures she catches outside.

I am now free to concentrate on writing my second book. It is a redemption tale because I cannot help but write redemption stories.

After two hours of writing it is time to plant out some broccoli and fennel (Florence Nightingale!) seedlings, feed them worm tea, protect them from birds (wire netting) wind (wind cloth attached to the wire netting with clothes pegs) slugs and snails (pellets placed around the perimeter of the garden). I hate using slug pellets, but with a farm next door and a huge array of ground covers and grasses around our own garden, it is pointless even trying to raise plants of the edible kind without resorting to the pellets.

Outside our house we have a huge kowhai tree, the yellow clusters of deep throated flowers of which are the all time favourite food of the native tui. I have been looking forward to its flowering this year and having the delight of the tui, who’s song is the sound version of the nectar he/she drinks, right outside the kitchen window, but alas, I think it has finally succumbed to the challenges of wet feet and old age. Kowhai don’t often live to be terribly old and this one was something of a champion. Fortunately we do have two others in sight of the house and more in the bush, but it will be very sad to have to say goodbye to this previously magnificent specimen. It did bless us with lots of seeds in the autumn so I shall make sure to honour it’s heritage by planting them and raising more babies to eventually plant out for the tui to bless with their song.

This winter has really reminded us we are living in a rainforest. We love the native trees and the birds that rely upon those trees (as well as the exotics like the Taiwanese flowering cherry to which the birds have gleefully adapted) and the trees need the rain, so we have to love the rain. It hasn’t been hard to love the rain as generally the beauty has outstripped the inconvenience, but by this end of winter the mud and the inconvenience of constantly getting wet in the process of doing the simplest tasks is beginning to wear a little thin I have to admit.

On the bright side however, the seedlings I have planted out are standing to attention and looking pretty enthusiastic, probably helped by a good feed of “worm tea” applied in a higher concentration than normal because of the amount of water in the soil, before and after transplanting. Everything in the garden received this feast and everything is looking vigorous. We have learned that this soil needs twice (at least) as much feeding as the soil we have had at lower altitudes. We are not sure why this is, but have some guesses about the surrounding trees and the sheer volume of rain which surely must leach nutrients from the soil.

Last summer we arrived here very late in the season and nothing we planted thrived despite tomatoes and courgettes being planted in pots in anticipation of the shift. The soil looked rich, but the worm count was low for reasons we have not yet ascertained as there appeared to be plenty of organic material in the soil. However, we have observed huge flocks of quail, pairs of pheasants and blackbirds and thrushes and the occasional pukeko (moorhen) in the garden area and that may answer that worm question! This year I have put netting around each garden as I have planted it, so we shall see. The worm count is much higher in the garden we left fallow over winter as the worms would have been protected by weeds.

CJ is in Australia at the moment, welcoming a darling little granddaughter and visiting his son and partner, so I don’t have the camera available, but I shall upload some photos in later posts and welcome any advice or feedback as we progress into Spring.

On the wild and beautiful West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, there lies the wild and beautiful town of Greymouth. It is a community that has had a very rough time lately with a mine disaster in which twenty nine coal miners were killed and now has come the announcement that a different mine is being closed because the owners have decided it isn’t sufficiently profitable.
On the television the mayor has been vowing to fight the closure and people have been talking about moving to Australian mines and “the end of our town” being nigh if the coal mine does close permanently.
As I listened to the mayor proclaiming “We are a mining town. Greymouth was built on mining. It’s what we are”, I immediately had the thought,” Wouldn’t the town be better served if their leader leader could lift the consciousness of his community above their confining definition? It has stood for over a hundred years, certainly, but so did the Stone Age last longer than a hundred years, and we are not clinging to the social structures and tools and economics of that era still. Why? Because people decided to move themselves on to more complex arrangements to meet changing environmental factors.
*What if Greymouth were to say, like a young person moving out from his family and beginning to define himself/herself in the world, “I was established on a base of coal mining, but the world is changing and I need to change with it and look into ways of making a living on my own terms.”
* What if, instead of falling into the duality trap; i.e.have mining and have a town vs no mining and having no town (one of the local business owners said “this will become a ghost town”. Well, yes it will if that is how people continue to think) they dropped this limiting self definition and began to say to themselves and each other, “We are a community built upon mining and this has given us resilience and strengths and skills and personal qualities that we can use to build a new, world leading exemplar of a community based upon those qualities…….
* what if they began to realize the world cannot go on relying upon fossil fuels and to hell with the future of the planet?,
*what if they began to say to each other,” so how else can we define ourselves as a community?”
*what if they began to look around and see what else exists in the environment and in the people?
*What if they began to look at the talents and strengths that exist in their community and how these can be deployed to create a new way of living and earning money?
*What if, instead of holding meetings to keep things as they are, they held meetings to identify the strengths already existing and to brainstorm ideas for a different future, free of the definition of “coal mining town”.
To move forward does not mean to leave behind heritage, but to honour heritage for what it was and for what it has taught and forged in the people emerging from that heritage. The “good bits” can still be carried forward in many cases, just deployed in a different manner.
Just as it is necessary for individuals to drop our self-limiting definitions in order to thrive and provide creative thinking to preserve the future, so must collectives of individuals, i.e. communities, begin to shift their thinking to new paradigms, new self-definitions if we are to collectively thrive and the planet to regain its health.
Of course there is a process involved. People need time to absorb the shock, to grieve with all its stages and then to move forward. They absolutely could do this if they were to throw up from their community, people who can provide the leadership and model the courage, optimism and free, creative thought needed to go forward into new adventures, or even if they can come up with the idea to bring in help from outside in the initial stages.
I shall be watching with great interest what unfolds in that very special little nook of the world.

I am determined to keep my brain and body in as good shape as possible as I age. For this reason I am embarking at sixty seven upon a new career as a writer and am embracing the idea of blogging. I have been meaning to for at least five years and now have finally plucked up the courage to begin. WordPress seems a great place to start as it endeavors to make itself comprehensible even to the e-challenged such as myself. So this is my first attempt at writing a brief blog, in this case, all about me,me,me!
CJ and I bought a small rural property at the beginning of this year. It had been previously developed into a beautiful, imitation English decorative garden and we are in the process of trying to turn it into an edible landscape, with regard to the needs of birds as well as ourselves. The challenge is to preserve the beauty while making it more able to sustain us and allow us to encourage and learn from others trying to do the same thing. I hope others will join us on our journey through this blog.

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!