Monday, October 24, 2011

Offerings of Admiration and the Success of Sunflowering

It's somewhat of an inevitability along the journey of parenthood that you'll face moments of frustration, confusion and impatience. But there are also (hopefully more often) the moments where you find yourself a little overwhelmed with the joy that a child can bring to your life. So as we come to the completion of another fortnight of school holidays I proudly sit gleaming in admiration for the little person my baby boy is becoming. 

With the beauty of spring thriving and growing all around us, we began our two weeks off together attending a workshop run by our local council at the library all about propagation and germination. Returning home filled with inspiration and enthusiasm we spent the following few days planting dozens of different varieties of seeds, many of which we had collected ourselves from our own garden the year before.

What required our attention first and foremost however, was the packet of sunflower seeds that had been a present to a little boy last Christmas and was now burning a hole in his hot little hand awaiting their potential 5 meter high sunny faces smiling back at him...

... And then there was the two different varieties of courgette seeds that we'd harvested from our own marrows that had been grown from our very first go at germinating seeds this time last year.
With the gentle care of a little pair of hands and daily observing our numerous pots of soil safely holding within them the delicate little packages of life, before a week had past we we're excitedly watching the brave but fragile little seeds pushing their way through the surface of the dirt. It also finally gave practical purpose to the dozens of miniature terracotta pots I had collected from fairs and second hand stores every where I had spied them over the past few years.

Enjoyable as it is to witness life emerging like this, watching seeds grow is a reasonably gradual process, so the employment of other methods of entertainment was necessary whilst I still had one last looming assignment to complete for the semester. Much to my amazement, the prospect of planting our newly germinated specimens out into the garden spurred on the dedication of a little chap wishing to also play his part in the maintenance of the rest of the garden. So day after day he encouraged me to sit down in front of the monotony of yet another page of my theoretical student life, while he basked in the sun outside - pulling out weeds, digging over bins of compost, turning the soil in our garden beds in preparation of planting and simply nurturing our garden with the pride of participation.

My dedication to the computer screen wasn't nearly as a admirable as his dedication to the earth outside, finding myself gazing out the window, drawn to the sunshine and haze of green in my eyes as I watched him enjoy his efforts. I couldn't help but set aside my task at hand and join him in his...

One afternoon as I watered in his work and he rolled about on the lawn, he informed me that he had found his spot...

I thought it a good choice...
"It's my naughty spot, Dad"
Deciding that his brief moment of misbehaviour earlier that morning should be punished by spending the rest of the afternoon sat upon his naughty spot... "But don't forget to bring me dinner though".
Which was a new and amusing parenting concept - a self disciplining child.
Cheeky bugger..

But sat we did, upon that spot, although it were in admiration of the life we live side-by-side as equals in our joy of growing continuously more whole as people, harmoniously alongside our garden - as opposed to being there for other reasons... but either way it was divine.

The rest of his holidays were spent strumming away with a new enthusiasm to learn to play his guitar; tinkering on our new 1920s upright piano; sneaking sips of my espresso while my back was turned, and asking why this seven-year-old couldn't have his own flat white as he helped me with my daily ritual of making coffee...

I wasn't entirely sure, why couldn't he have his very own little wee flat white? 
So this morning he did.. and enjoyed every bit of it. Interesting little chap..

As much as the novelty of spending everyday like this might eventually wear off... maybe not? I'm not sure who enjoyed the last two weeks more. I've learned to enjoy very much my own company in the daily experiences of living a life full of colour at the pace that we do. But as each day of the last two weeks passed by I could see more and more of the delightful character emerging from this boy as he grows into his very own unique little self, and I am blessed with a vibrant companion full of an equal enthusiasm for life. 
Just like his sunflower seeds, he has emerged from the soil with all the potential of life; to soak up the sun and shine back upon the world from which he has sourced the sustenance of his life. 
Nothing could be more beautiful.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Walking old pathways in a new pair of feet...

So...  So, I went to the other side of the world, as far away as previously I could only imagine. And, and well now I've come back again. Initially upon my return, it all felt oddly different whilst strangely familiar. For a while it all seemed rather new, while at the very same time it was still just the same old recognizable comforts of home, exactly the way I'd left them. I left more weeks ago than I can vividly remember, on a train ride that now resembles only the initial and novel adventurous memories of 12 hours of riding straight up through the central north island of New Zealand, on to Auckland, and then somewhere out into the sky.

I've now been home longer than I was away and all I have left of the actual journey to England itself are a few interesting items I collected along the way, a handful of enthusiastic memories and a collection of photo's that will always remind me of the places I've been to, the people I met and the little friends I made...

the furry ones too..

It was certainly an experience, one that has altered my perspective of this big ole world. But the longer I'm home the less I feel the literal experiences of the trip have impacted on me.

Although at the time, between flights and train rides, the wonderful people I encountered and the magnificent sights that I greatly appreciate my cameras accompaniment to have captured, I really felt that this new and unusual sense of freedom beneath my freshly spread wings was exactly what I wanted to grasp onto tightly and not let go.

Wandering amongst enormous cities full of centuries of history and intrigue was so far away from my normality that I found myself lost in the novelty. But amongst the sea of people who barely notice you're there, in a world so full of busyness, I couldn't help but stop and considered my own significance in the greater scheme of things.

So instead I let myself be carried off by the breeze to where ever it wished to take me... and it was upon hilltops and beyond grassy fields that I found a peacefulness in just appreciating the unknown skylines beyond my sight, and the unfamiliar pathways beneath my feet.

Despite the disorientation of the inevitable returning home, the returning to what I was anticipating would be a concoction of uncertainty and the dreary monotony of real life compared to the vastness and colourful excitement of what I had just experienced... was in fact returning to my little sanctuary on the edge of the world; to my little boy, to whom I mean the world; to a community where each day I find increasing significance in my participation with my very own people, and places, and clouds, and hills, and trees. Maybe I needed to leave this place not to discover how much I love my home and that this land of the long white cloud will forever be that place; but it was to realise where I've buried my roots, where it is I grow best; where I feel an immense belonging.

My world got bigger having left, although it was not in the leaving that it was significant, but in the returning home. Yet not only did my world get bigger, but so too did my hopes and dreams and ambitions to flourish in the fertile soil of my life, to continue to find within myself a significance in the choices I make, within the community I am already part of, in the adventures I have right here at home - as a father, a brother, a son, a friend, a student, a foodie, a gardener, an artist, a musician... to be purposeful simply in who I am as me...

In the life I create daily just by living...
In our house on the edge of our hill.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finding a Fullness.

My recent lack of wordful expression here has been personally noted, however, it is not because I have not had thoughts and emotions to express and my normal excitement bursting from all of my extremities, in fact that enthusiasm has not been quietly contained, it has just been needed; directed in the appropriate direction to attend at present to all of the aspects of my rather full and vibrant existence. Yet we've still contently wandered our way within the changing seasons, through Autumn and into Winter, nicely coloured with an array of new and cosy op-shop scarves and jackets.

We've met some fairly wild weather along the way.. tornado's, ravaging winds, house shaking thunder, flash hail storms..

But there have still been little treasures to find amongst the cold as well.

And the sky has a different freshness about it following a storm..

 There has been to mention, a... 'busy'?. somewhat consuming semester of university, although rewardingly balanced out with a handful of healthy A's scribbled upon the front pages of returned assignments, and then the unwavering calmness I've learned to maintain as I become accustomed to the otherwise unnerving exams that top off the end of each semester; also consequently adorned with that perky first letter of the alphabet. I have successfully changed my studies from a social work degree, to one majoring in social policy which will then be followed by a diploma in teaching so I can make my classroom participation a more permanent placement. Which leads me to the next notable usage of my time, a... 'busy'? school term with my no longer overly 'little' young man. It has been full of plenty of colour and character - from poetry about vegetables, to having Dad come and teach 25 extremely enthusiastic seven and eight-year-old's the process of making bread by hand over the course of a day - as the kids have explored the wonderful world of yeast and bread during this last term. Which of course isn't complete without a few bread like creations in his lunch box along the way.

Then there has been the most enthusiastic Dad wriggling his way into every Wednesday morning at school to take my now well be-friended group of little kiddly-winks (my own kiddly-wink included) to hopefully have made spelling a more thoroughly enjoyable exercise. And now, after more than a quarter of a century of life lived solely upon my little north island of New Zealand not having left once, I find myself just two very exciting weeks off hopping onto a large metal bird to accompany my 82-year-old grandmother to spend a month in the Autumny tones of the delightful English countryside.. the planning of which in itself has also made good use of my time.

So after a nice school holiday break with my little man, I pack my bags and and bundle up my new semesters books, we say goodbye to our ever growing excitingly life-filled house, I leave my boy with his mother for the longest six weeks of being apart.. and I stretch my wings... to embark on my very first explorative flight.

Although, I don't want to claim to be busy.. busy somewhat implies that you don't have enough time, or that your run off your feet - and were that the case, I'd choose my foot steps differently.. I prefer to suggest that life has become rather full. Full of the fullness of life.

However, of the greatest importance to note here right now, are the words in the poem that follow. For at only the gleaming young age of seven, a passion I have long had for vegetables has now been successfully passed along. 

Veges & Me.

Since when I was born, my Dad he has fed,
me full of good food to grow clever he said.
Like parsnips, and carrots and onions and leek,
beetroot and cabbage, cucumbers each week.
Salads of lettuce, pumpkin that’s roasted,
a diet of veges with sourdough toasted.
Peppers I like but eggplants I love,
As if they’ve been sent down from heaven above.
One time he made, just last week I’d seen,
the most glorious pie full of things that were green.
Bright red tomatoes, a handful of herbs,
with fresh hand-made pasta for dinner, superb.
No chickens, or pigs, or birds that can fly,
no sheep and no cows will pass my plate by.
For everyday when it comes to things eaten,
I promise you now, veges can-not be beaten!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Childhood for many of us is an accumulation of old memories; sights, sounds, songs, smells, feelings, words, people, places. Some of which are great, others often wished forgotten. And for others of us, say Peter Pan for instance.. childhood is a way to live life, a way to grasp tightly in your hand the joy that a light-hearted childhood brings. Regardless that we might age, find ourselves with responsibilities, our humour and taste in music, food and fashion may have changed, we can still approach everyday of life simply and honestly and enjoy every moment of it. There's so much to be learned from children, to be reminded of what life is like when simplicity is reinstated, and when you do you'll find that everything about your existence is more enjoyable... it's helpful to also let go of the old baggage and instead use the wisdom gained from experience to iron out the emotional kinks, rather than let them become you. For a child time matters only because they want so desperately to learn how to read a clock, or because if they can wait just ten more minutes then they'll be able to ride their bike down to the beach. Money is shiny, if you have more than one coin it sounds great jingling in your pocket, and adults seem to talk about it far too much. But it's also what you need to buy ice cream (or vegetables from the market - as my little man might say)... Friends are those who will join in on your game, or search for bugs with you in the grass, if you fall out give it five minutes.. or tomorrow is another day and forgiveness is almost as inevitable as eating lunch. 

I have fathered a child since I only just ceased being a child myself. On one hand that aided me to grow up and find the maturity I needed to find to enable me to take on board what it was that was right in front of me. On the other hand it meant that I still found enjoyment in simply the experience of life, which although seemed to have already been a part of my character, is now consciously my way of life. Side by side I live with this kid who is just so incredibly genuine, kind, passionate, and eager to learn. When I stopped to really take a good look I saw that children in general have these characteristics in them, but it is we as adults, the people who are responsibly for shaping and teaching our children, with all of our learned complexities, all our hurts that we won't let go of, all of our daily stresses and worries, that burden our children with our insecurities and they become the issues that define them.... 

So after the first year and half of studying toward a social work degree and feeling more and more confident in knowing my passion is to work with people, it had started becoming clear that I wanted to work particularly with children and young people. As time passed and my passion grew, as I learned more about myself, more about this world that further defines my character and ambitions, I stumbled quite purposefully upon my life changing realisation..
I'm going to be a primary school teacher.
It was an epiphany really, like every one of my childhood memories laid the path behind me that led to this point, and whats more it enlightened me with a trust in myself, in that as I live this life I will continue to find ways to live it as simply as I can. I choose to lay all of my worries out on the table, all of my past pains, my emotional vulnerabilities, my unfavourable characteristics, and I will continue to face them, break them down and let them go. And funnily enough, ever since I came to this realisation just a few weeks ago I've found myself surrounded by children...

I love school holidays, which is handy seeing as I'd still get them being a school teacher, and these latest holidays have been no exception. We have found plenty of great things to do... five enthusiastic children (myself included) spent one morning adventuring through the beautiful big Te Papa Museum in Wellington city, and then the afternoon at the Zoo with a family-pass my little man had won himself coming first place in a colouring-in-competition last spring. Despite cloudy, windy, slightly damp and rather cold weather we all had a marvelous day, the animals were all on their best behaviour, there were very few other people to contend with and we spoke to many a Zoo keeper on our journey.

We then had an additional seven year old who I've known since he was a week old come and stay for a few days, and it turned out more than excitingly.

To Happy Days - Every single one of them.
With Love,
Peter Pan.