Friday, May 18, 2018

Falling in--- down a bank! (Coffee and cake, Puha and stuff!)

Just on a year ago, Perdy was a little hero ... drawing my attention to a lovely lady who had fallen down a bank, and was getting close to being in a perilous condition, probably hyperthermia. That all ended well. As many of us know, 'falling' is a major cause of injury and sometimes death for the elderly. I am NOT immune from that action, especially when I decide to climb down banks for various reasons.

    Why would someone my age (I'm not far off 68) go gallivanting down banks?! Hey ... I need to put food on the table, or ground, for my hens. They LOVE Puha. (Milkweed, for my overseas readers)  I like it too, especially the young tender leaves. I love the peppery flavour. It cuts through fat. My hens almost kill one another, when I throw it over the fence.

    Today, I noticed lots of it. This time of the year it grows in abundance, conveniently close to the pathways where I walk my Jack Russell, Perdy. I espied some beautiful, huge examples of Puha on my walk this morning. It was growing in the long grass on a gentle bank, facing the mangroves. How could I ignore it?

    I didn't. I very carefully clambered down the bank, filling my bag with the luxuriant foliage. It took only a few minutes to gather enough for a good feed for my chooks. I do not take any more than I need, leaving some of the bigger flowering ones to seed for future gatherings, both for myself and others. I guess you could say, I am conserving it.

    I felt most content, as I neared the top of the bank with my bag full of beautiful Puha. Just as I reached the top of the bank (I'm sure you will be laughing at my description when you see the picture of very modest BANK!) I stumbled. As I plunged to the grassy slope, I saw people coming towards me. Crazy thoughts went through my head. I thought ... Miranda loves that word, plunge. 

    I landed safely in the verdant grass, my feet pointing to heaven and other regions of my body supported by the mass ... I couldn't have chosen a better place to fall if I tried!

    'Are you OK?' a friendly voice called.

    'Sure,' I replied, slightly embarrassed. 'I can see why hospitals have all those warnings about ... falling,' I added. (Actually, I'm not sure if I'm imagining I sad that, now.)

     But the kind lady did say ... 'Tai Chi is very good for balance.'

    My embarrassing moment over, I continued towards my car, where another lady, with her kids, noticed the Puha. She told me where there was more. 'I like to leave it ... I only take what I need ... gotta share it, eh.'

    She smiled.

'Ka kite,'

   she said as she left.

    I returned to my car and headed to the cafe, where I rewarded myself with a coffee and a Fudge-Brownie, not quite what the doctor ordered, but oh so yummy. (Thanks Rex  ... The Kitchen Cafe in Thames.)

    Superhen was most pleased when I threw the Puha over the fence. She gave me the look of course, which said ... 'there better be much more of that tomorrow, if you want breakfast!'

    Perdy replied on my behalf ... 'Careful feathered-one ... come from behind that fence, and you will be BREAKFAST!'

PS: I added a picture of the Kauri Gum in the dunny!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Something a little different.

I watched you … every day! 
So, I’ve been up here for months now. No one has painted over me and there are only a few scribblings on my periphery, that sully my visage. Sure … a few kids have tried to whack up some inferior ‘bombs,’ but for the most part, I have been left here, undisturbed.
    Sure, the sun, rain and rubbish have all blasted my shiny surface, but I’m made of quality paints, born out of the passion of an enthusiastic and talented ‘artist.’ She comes by from time to time, reminding me of the hours we spent in my berthing; laughing and even the odd tear or two. I met some of her friends … and family, not always sure of the distinction between the two. It didn’t matter.
    I wasn’t looking forward to the day you finished me … leaving me alone. Would I feel lost? I started noticing people; the ones who passed at the same time every day, on their way to work. Then … there were those who came to the park most weekends. I surmised that they lived nearby and did not have gardens or backyards. Two have earned a place in my heart. I even know their names.
    James, a willowy twenty-something, ‘alternatively-dressed’ guy, with long blond hair, tied up in a 70’s style pony-tail, always stopped and watched the progress of my ‘birthing.’ He never said anything. He just stopped and observed. If someone else came and started a conversation, he quickly moved off, after muttering a brief reply, that did little to encourage more meaningful conversation.
    Then, one day, a slightly younger guy, different in so many ways, came past. He wore torn or was it ripped jeans. I wondered if he had paid an exorbitant price for them, or was he just …poor?  He always seemed to have the same T-shirt. That led me to think he either had many of the same types or he washed them every night because believe me … I tried the ‘smell-test’ on him when he approached to touch my surface, stopping only when the artist glared at him. He smelled fine ... fresh and clean. His name was Jessy. The T-shirt was tight, showing off his muscular chest and well-defined arms.
    That day, James took longer to move on. I noticed him glancing at Jessy and moving off … reluctantly. As he left the park, he looked back. Jessy returned the look. I felt an ‘energy,’ a connection, but neither said anything.
    Two days passed, Jessy coming on the first day, staying a little longer than he did on his first appearance. The next day he didn’t come, but James did. That’s how it was for the next week … Jessy one day, James the next … until James started coming again … every day. He even came when it rained and my ‘creator’ didn’t come.
    Finally, I was finished. I stretched over a wall, a myriad of colours. Jessy and James both came. There was quite a crowd … at least a hundred people, and a TV news crew. Yes, I was on TV that night. Anyone could be forgiven for mistaking me for a ‘Banksie creation!’
    James kept looking towards Jessy. Jessy pretended not to notice … for a while. It was Jessy who moved closer until he was right next to James. Their shoulders almost touched. They were silent. People began to move away, the TV crew packed up after interviewing the artists and gathering a few reactions from the people.
    I ignored the ‘ceremony of my ‘coming out.’ I was way more interested in the two guys. When the last of the crowd had left, Jessy and James remained, still silent. It was James who spoke first.
    “I guess if I said, ‘Do you come here often, you’d throw up.’
    Jessy laughed. ‘I’ve heard that corny pick-up line a few too many times, but I guess it’ll do.’
    My heart missed a beat or two. They left together. I have never seen them again. I often wonder if they are still together. I wonder if I will fade. Love is a bit like a mural … in some ways!

Friday, May 4, 2018

The HILLS are alive with the sound of----

Yes, it's that time of the year. It is not so much the 'sound of music' in the hills; it is the sound of gunfire across the water. If it was in some other countries, one would shiver in fear. Here, in New Zealand, it is the seasonal sound of ducks been shot.

    Every year,  this event draws some negative comments from folk who find the practice abhorrent in some way. Many of their utterances are baseless, ranging from their belief that the 'sport' is cruel, through to being unnecessary.

    OK ... let's look at those claims. The ducks that are being hunted have the potential to reach 'plague-like' proportions, which has ramifications for native wildlife and probably the health of some waterways. The ducks we hunt today are the ones that Europeans introduced. New Zealand a was magic place for them to breed and flourish.

    We quickly realized that there was a need to 'control the numbers of ducks.' They needed to be 'culled,' and the 'duck-hunting-culture' became a popular past-time. Generations of NZers have enjoyed the 'sport.' Many of the hunters became expert shooters and spent much of the duck-hunting-season in their little shelters, on foggy mornings in wetlands and waterways of NZ's provincial regions.

    Not all of the hunters eat their 'prizes.' Perhaps they give them away. I remember living on a farm in my childhood days, and my mother receiving ducks that relatives had shot. I remember being told to be careful when we ate them (probably roasted) because there was always the possibility of the lead-shot still being in the meat, meaning that teeth would come into contact with the little hard pieces of 'shot.' Not a nice experience!

    These days, there are m nay more ways available to cook the ducks. Our more diverse population has introduced us to fabulous new ways to process and cook the duck meat. I am extremely hopeful that I shall be the recipient of some fresh, meaty duck-breasts this season, given that I now live within 'sounding-distance' of the bedlam that is this time of the year. On my morning walk today, I could not miss the sounds from across the water on the Firth of Thames. Bring it on!