Wow. I've officially been in New Zealand for seven months. I remain in awe. There are beautiful views, terrain and surprises in nature at every turn.
I find great joy in watching our seven year old leave barefoot for school every day- even on the days he thinks he needs a jacket and watching him immersed in the lessons of the indigenous Maori culture.
I can sit and watch the ocean for hours (if I let myself).
It thrills me to have our family come over and discover the beauty with us. I'm looking forward to the arrival of six of our kids this month and the final one to see NZ next month.
It is difficult to describe, but the weeks I had with my older kids this summer was a very precious time that would have never happened had we still been in the states. They have their own lives and in Springfield it was a rarity to sit down for lengthy conversations or to get everyone together for a meal. The older boys were here for five+ weeks and my daughter for two. The boys and I had grown-up Camp Jennison. Keegan, 17, is writing a novel and we shared our experiences and thoughts about writing and recommendations with each other between being out and about seeing the sights. Luke is a musician and I think it would be fair to call him a multi-media artist. He was frequently creating music or other work on his computer so it was as if we were having the creative camp intensive. We would go downtown and listen to Luke at open mic nights while he played with and bonded with some of the locals. He would occasionally busk, saving up money to buy a dear friend a necklace. They were up early in the mornings. We talked and talked and talked as we travelled about and hiked and marveled at the Northland. And we LAUGHED and laughed and . . .
For me, this experience with my kids this summer let me know that even though we are far apart (although kept close with technology) this move had the power to actually bring us much closer and experience quality time that otherwise would never have happened at the level. (Done going on and on, but still basking in the glow) (oh, and just got finished with a really great Skype "hang out session" with my 23 year old daughter . . . gotta love Skype)
And having dear friends join us early on was a delight.
It is an absolute delight to see my husband, who has spent his life caring for others, have a moment to exhale and enjoy the sea that he so loves while he takes care of himself.
Seeing the delight in my 83 year old in-laws has been a joy. They were rockstars to make the trip from England and enjoyed themselves immensely. We just said good-bye to them after a month long stay a couple of days ago.
If you are my friend on FaceBook, you know I had a serious addiction to my personal crack in the past couple of months: newborn lambs. I couldn't get enough of them and could sit and watch them all day. We are surrounded by them in our neighborhood; it was/is a simple pleasure that brought me much joy.
THE book. I finished my first novel in the early months of being here and now I am dragging on with revisions. Oh so close at being done. I still love my original title "Fool Me Once," but on another search, when previously I'd found few books of that title, I came upon a copius amount. Bummer. Guess I was the fool. So a dear reader of the first draft came up with the title- Purgatory- and I actually loved the concept after reviewing the literal definition of the word. And then, Keegan, my seventeen year old whipped out this amazing cover draft. The book is there. The book will be born when the universe says it is the right time. I have just made a conscious decision not to put living and enjoying this amazing country on hold to sit still and finish it. Now . . . if someone wanted to sign me, or give me an advance . . . trust me, I'd be writing a whole different sentence that would have the word "deadline" in it. In this moment, I am very relaxed about the book. It lives.
Second chances. Yesterday I started an experiment with second chances. Ernie, my friend's horse, a twelve year old, spirited Thoroughbred did not work out for me. His temperament had taken a drastic turn before I took him and he just did not want to be under the saddle, although he was as sweet as sugar on the ground. At 17 hands, a horse that doesn't want to be ridden and will buck and rear and run backwards towards a drop off to make that point is not a safe horse. Ernie's story was that even under the saddle, when he was good, he was very very good, but when he was bad he was horrid (and DANGEROUS). His owner took him back yesterday and I will follow the saga of how he goes and I hope he goes very well; he came to me after a short-lived stint working with riders with disabilities.
Enter Rocky. Part of me was so sad about the experience with Ernie that I was going to write off getting another horse. Then a louder part of me said, don't be a fool. Since you were a little girl you wanted to have your own horse . . . in close proximity. (part of the issue was that my first and only horse, a palomino paint, Misty, was/is the best horse in the whole entire world and she would never be topped).
I found Rocky. He arrived yesterday from the Hokianga. His owner is letting me have him for a month as a trial. He will be a "project" himself, but from the looks of it a sweet one. Rocky is a six year old Standardbred that came off the harness racing tracks within the last couple of years. The owner has had Rocky for a few months. He hasn't been ridden much. The owner rode him for the first time in over six weeks the day before floating him here on a two hour journey. He came out of the float calm as a cucumber. Spooked a bit with riding . . . lots of wind, new place, but easily enough adjusted. The owner is a farrier and had taken care of his shoeless feet before they left, drenched (wormed) him and floated his teeth right there as I watched. He was a gentle and knowledgeable spirit with Rocky and has offered himself as a resource. He worried that my observance of Rocky spooking on a huge boulder with a mosaic gecko on it would put me off. I laughed, that was nothing compared to what Ernie had put me through. Later we took a long walk down to the beach and across to the island and low tide to get a feel for the area. He was a pleaser. I'm grateful for second chances and hope he makes a great family horse for us. I'll be very proud and fulfilled if I can bring this six year old along (and the price is extremely right . . . just a bonus . . . because he isn't dressage trained).
I take amazing hikes with views like this several days a week.
The least of my worries has been making friends. New Zealand has shown hospitality, genuineness, kindness and already given us some dear, dear friends for which we are very grateful. One sweet couple has insisted on having an Atticus weekend and sending us on our merry way for some "adult" time. Atticus is thrilled and, hey, we're okay with it I guess.
Until the next rain falls or inspiration wallops me up side the head . . . sending love and light and best holiday wishes from New Zealand to wherever you may be.