Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Mental soundtracks

A few days ago I was up at the lodge in the early evening after the last school to use the lodge this year had departed.  I walked around to the confidence course and was struck by the silence and a haunting sense of loneliness.  In my imagination I could hear the shrieks of excited children and picture them unleashing their inner monkey on the different challenges. 

Is it just me or does a place designed for youngsters always look desolate when all is quiet and we are just left with our mental soundtracks.

The next evening I was out by the dam, another place  where my mental soundtrack has splashing and laughter playing.  The blue raft in the middle of the shot looks wrong sitting there amongst the rushes. 

Bring on Christmas I say.   Then what plays in my head will be matched with what I see.  Bring back the children.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sights of summer

For Kiwis nothing says Christmas like the pohutukawa tree.  Its blazing red flowers have earned it the title of New Zealand's Christmas tree.  It starts to flower in November and usually stops by Christmas and New Year, with its peak in mid to late December.  This is a great time of year to find myself with time to kill.  It's a joy to wander looking for flowering pohutukawa.  I found them blooming right on time along Princes Road, Ruakaka earlier last week.

 Providing a beautiful canopy over the road down to the beach

Framing the view out to The Hen and Chickens (that's Taranga, the Hen, pictured.  I think.) 

 Looking across to Whangarei Heads

Legend has it that if the pohutukawa flowers early it will be a long hot summer.  I've noticed the cabbage trees flowering.  That has always been my go to for a predictor of summer.  And, yes, I thought they were early.

The only blight on my time at the beach was this oystercatcher.  I think it was injured, it didn't fly off as I approached as I expected it to and didn't move in the time I watched it.  I think it was keeping a wary eye on me.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Make hay while the sun shines

or before that rain in the mountain comes down here.

How different hay making is from my introduction to it in the early 70s.  Back then the sight of that rain so close by would have caused great consternation. Back in the day hay making was a lengthy process.  The grass had to be mowed, turned and aerated, turned again and combed into tidy rows before the baling.  With delays in between each activity for drying to take place.   And much discussion between everyone involved about the timing and the weather.  The whole business took days with the 'haymakers' needing to be fed and watered on a regular basis.  It seemed like the more people involved in the picking up of the bales the better.  A baled paddock would be swarming with people. I kid you not.  The bales had to be lined up so the truck coming along with an attachment to pick them up and load them on to a truck could do so without much manoeuvring.  If you were lucky enough to possess such a device.  Otherwise, brawn was required to throw each bale up on to the deck of a truck for transporting to a haybarn where it all had to be unloaded and stacked.  My younger son paid for a good proportion of his university study by haymaking during his summer holidays.  For the farmer's wife who had to feed the masses it would be hard to get an accurate headcount to know how many to expect for dinner which often had to be served at 9 or 10 o'clock at night when all the hay was finally stacked in the hayshed. 

This morning Campbell, the young farm manager, mowed the grass in the paddock opposite my house somewhere around 8 am.  (I think. I should have looked at the clock.)  He moved on to the paddock behind the house and before he had finished there the baler and the tedder had arrived.   I used to think 'the tedder' was my ex's nickname for the machine, I have no idea where the name originated because it doesn't say 'machine that turns and aerates the grass' to me. 

Anyway, it looked like these two were chasing each other around the paddock.

By around 10 am they had finished baling the two paddocks near my house and now, not yet lunch time, I can hear the machinery working away on the hills on the other side of the farm.  Nearly finished.  No rain.  There were three men involved and three machines.  Sometime soon these monster bales can be easily lifted by a tractor and moved elsewhere for storage. 

Neatly wrapped baleage, or silage in a bag, sitting in the paddock.

I'd noticed a neighbour's new bales neatly stacked on the far side of this paddock earlier in the week.

We are seeing the typical sights of summer a little earlier than usual this year.  La Niña is doing her thing.  It seems ridiculous that after all the moaning I did about the wet, wet winter to say it is now quite dry.  Alarmingly dry.  Cracks are starting to appear in the ground.  I'm becoming even more weather obsessed than usual!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Little niggle

Something is niggling at me and I don't know if I should worry about it or not.  I'm not a born worrier, it's my nature to not sweat the small stuff.  And I don't see any point in thinking about something too much if there's no solution to be found.  

I know I've always talked in my sleep.  I think it was at its worst when I was a teenager.  If my younger sister wanted to find out anything that I would not tell her about, she would wait until I was asleep, then ask me.  And I'd spill the beans.  I can remember having stern words with myself to NOT tell her,  to keep my secrets to myself, that which boy I liked was none of her business, to not give her ammunition to tease me.  

To this day I sometimes wake myself from a good sleep when I hear someone talking and I wake up to find out who it is.   Sometimes it is a shout that disturbs me.  I go straight back to sleep when I discover it is just me. 

One of my younger brothers not only talked up a storm in his sleep but also walked (and on one occasion went outside and rode his bike down the street) in his sleep.   I don't think I experienced sleep walking until I was a very sleep deprived mother of two and woke one morning to discover that the bottle I'd prepared for the baby the night before wasn't in the fridge.   It was empty in the baby's cot and I never just left it with her in the cot, I always picked her up to feed her.  My husband was at work on night shift and if it was the good fairy who had let me sleep that night, she never made a return appearance.   The other possibility was that her barely two year old brother had taken it and given it to her but there's no way that child would have accepted cold milk.  So it had to have been me. 

All my children talked in their sleep and the youngest, for a few years, also walked around the house quite often.  The sliding door that lead outside was very heavy and noisy and I remember the panic the night we heard it open and found her wandering up the path.  On one occasion we found her standing under a cold shower in her winter pajamas!  

So my situation is not really serious!   I'm just more puzzled as to why, now, in my 70s I should suddenly start sleep walking.  I'm not sleep deprived, far from it, very few people sleep as well as I do.  I don't have any ill health, there has been no change to my medications.  Trouble is, I don't know how often I do it.  I've only caught myself out twice.  One night last week I can remember dreaming my daughter was coming to visit, that she had  sent me a text saying she would arrive shortly after midnight and that I got up and put on a light on the front porch and unlocked the front door for her.   The next morning I was puzzled when she wasn't in the spare bedroom and checked my phone to re-read her text message.  I shrugged and realized it had been part of a dream but was startled when I found the porch light on and the door unlocked.  

On the other occasion I woke up to find myself sitting in the dark in the lounge room at 2 am with my glasses on and a book in my lap.  I had no idea why I was there and I was shivering with the cold.  My nightgown was on the floor beside my bed.  What the hell had I been doing and why?  

I know I should not have gone near Dr Google.  If I were a man I'd be really worried as I read that middle-aged men who physically act out their dreams while asleep are five time more likely to develop dementia.  No, even that wouldn't apply to me as I'm past what is commonly known as middle age.  And anyway, the link is not as strong in women.

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