Imagining the Past at the Manawatu Estuary

estuary

On a recent trip to our nearest beach we spent time enjoying the estuary at the river mouth, where my local river eventually flows into the ocean. These days the estuary, not shown here in the photo, is a protected heritage area, where many of New Zealand’s native water birds can be found at various times of the year.

It wasn’t the birds that captured my attention on this trip though, but the river and how it served in the opening up of my region in the 1870s when New Zealand was being settled. The river has changed its course over the years since then and definitely doesn’t seem as wide nor deep as it once must have been.

In the beginning, before the region was cleared of forest and before roads were established the river was the major means of travelling inland to where I live. Settlers arriving to the newly established town had to travel up river in large sailing boats for some distance to a nearby thriving port town, then onward in smaller river transport.

I tried imaging the big sailing ships carrying arrivals, people who had been on board for months, eager to reach their new homeland. The river shown here at low tide just didn’t seem to be capable of being navigated by a large sailing ship. However, I enjoyed imaging the presence of so many ships arriving at was back then a thriving port, that I was on board one of them arriving at a strange destination.

This river mouth of the Manawatu River played an important role in the development of my region.

Flash Fiction Competition for New Zealand Writers

For all New Zealand writers who haven’t heard, the NZ Flash Fiction Competition for 2014 is open. You have about a month to enter this competition. For guidelines, click on the following link. It’s open to New Zealand citizens and residents.

http://nationalflash.wordpress.com/competition/

I love writing Flash Fiction. I like the discipline of choosing words carefully, making each one count. Not that I’m good at it at all, I simply get pleasure from writing it. This is so different from the daily writing I do here on my blog and other sites, where my thoughts spill onto the page without much precision at all. It’s definitely time for me to be disciplined again. If you’re at all interested in some of my ramblings the link below is as good a place as any to start.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/2886864-the-200-word-challenge-was-simply-a-warm-up

So, my thinking cap is on, my pencils sharpened, paper at hand – I’m ready to write.

Coffee, Autumn Leaves and Childhood Memories

While people in the northern hemisphere are delighted by the arrival of Spring, I’m equally delighted at the arrival of autumn down here in New Zealand. I love autumn, it’s definitely my favourite month.

I love the settled weather, the lingering of the last of the sunshine, the colours and the general slowing down as we move into winter.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/2701920-an-autumn-saturday-morning-in-new-zealand

I sat drinking coffee at one of my favourite cafes this morning, writing and trying to recall any autumn memories from childhood. Then a sudden rush of times gone by hit me. I was sitting not too far from a rather vivid autumn leaf memory. You can read about it here.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/2735537-childhood-memories-of-autumn-leaves

So, whether you’re moving into Spring or Autumn, celebrate the moment. Enjoy each season for what it is.

The Ideas are Starting to Flow Again

It seems I’ve been in hibernation, but really I’ve been working full-time. Nothing like a stressful day to kill creativity. However, life changes and now I find myself with time to write my stories again. So it’s back to work on my next book, plenty of time, doesn’t have to be finished till late next year.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/2712018-the-resurrection-of-a-major-writing-project

I’m getting excited about the prospect of researching and writing again. Life is looking up.

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After the New Zealand Earthquake

I’m having a quiet afternoon, much quieter than the one we had here in the lower part of the North Island, New Zealand yesterday. About this time yesterday we were hit by a magnitude 6.2 eathquake, that really rocked our socks off.

Not knowing what was going to happen and needing to share my shaking with someone other than my husband, I wrote about it at this link – I’m not sure if we were having an after shock or whether it was just me shaking.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/2098096-breaking-news-huge-earthquake-in-new-zealand

Fortunately we weren’t close to the centre, and judging by news coming in during the day some places had even more damage than we did here. The local paper shows pictures of chimney damage to the house next door to the one I grew up in the 1950s.

Our cat Smooch wasn’t too impressed with the noisy shake, he bolted like lightning out the window once the shaking stopped.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/2100363-smooch-the-cat-didn039t-like-the-earthquake

I managed to find something to laugh about after the earthquake stopped though. My cup of coffee had emptied itself, leaving me with the need to clean up before making another.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/2105146-i-do-hope-the-librarian-will-understand

Today the afternoon is quiet. I’m thankful for that. Do you have earthquakes in your part of the world?

Time to Remember the Stories of Our Pets

There’s something about growing older, life tends to float by at a more even pace. Not that I haven’t been busy so far this year, but maybe I’ve finally found some balance.

New Year came in with huge bangs in Taupo, where we were minding my sister’s house and dog. The fireworks terrified the poor fellow. However, he settled down and we continued our week with him amidst lots of fun and laughter.

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Here’s Busta pleading, please take me for a walk Aunty Val. We didn’t dare mention that word, w-a-l-k aloud, unless we were ready to put our words into action!

Oh the Smells a Dog Can Smell and the Birds he Can Chase

One of the things I want to do more of this year is write the stories of our pets. After all, their stories deserve to be told just as much as the rest of the family. I know our cat Smooch will agree with that!

Smooch the Cat is Pleased Mum and Dad are Home

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The stories of pets and humans are entwined together don’t you think.

 

Summer in New Zealand

I’m feeling quite excited right now. I have one more morning of teaching, well, school, and then it’s time for the long summer holidays.

The year has really flown by and I haven’t been here as much as I’d like. I’m looking forward to having more time now, writing more stories about summer past and present. Just like this one I wrote elsewhere a week or so ago about our family camping in the 1950s. I’m the wee cutie with the ribbon in my hair 🙂

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1805879-a-beach-a-tent-a-book-and-some-sandhills

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It probably seems strange for many of you, thinking about summer for Christmas. But believe me, when you don’t know any better, it’s just the way it should be.

I responded to a challenge on Bubblews the other day, trying to convince another user why Christmas in New Zealand was the best. Why don’t you check it out for yourself and see if you agree.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1795591-the-real-reason-christmas-in-new-zealand-beats-them-all

And, just in case you’re still not convinced, let me leave you with a photo of the pohutukawa, New Zealand’s Christmas tree, coming in to full boom now, just in time for Christmas.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1804730-pohutukawa-the-new-zealand-christmas-tree

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So, now I’m feeling the heat, so I’ll go and look out some of your stories about snow 🙂

What a Wonderful Weekend

I’ve been in writers paradise for the last three days, at the river mouth of a small New Zealand seaside town tucked away from all the hustle and bustle. My only company was the wonderful birds, feeding on the mudflats.

I went to write and managed to get some writing done, not all of it what I’d planned on doing. But writing is writing is writing, so if was the word count I was after, then I probably achieved it.

Sometimes we need to get away from everyday life, in order to get things done. I’ve returned feeling fresh, and ready to face the world again. Now it’s back to reality.

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Red Faced Embarrassment for a Swimmer at the Bank

Why is it we tend to remember the embarrassing moments of our lives more easily than the more rewarding times? Well, I do anyway. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve had plenty of embarrassing moments, not that I’m prepared to reveal all here.

Some of you already know I’m a swimmer, a lapsed one at the moment, but still a swimmer. I have chlorine in my veins and so does my husband.

So, when I heard a quite common line on TV the other night, ‘I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on,’ I had to laugh. Oh yes, I’ve definitely heard that line before.

It was when I was in my thirties. My husband was manager of the local outdoor swimming pool and worked seven days a week during the summer, so I spent many of my waking summer hours there. My usual attire was either my swim suit of course, or shorts, top and bare feet. That was how people knew me and how I knew many of the people in my life.

So when a well dressed young man spoke to me in the bank queue one day, at first I didn’t recognise him. Then he smiled and the penny dropped.

‘Oh, I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on,’ I blurted out.

I can smile now, but at the time I blushed more red than any sunburn I’d ever experienced.

Isn’t is funny how a simple throw-away line on TV can bring forth old memories in a rush. It certainly did for me and now my mind is racing with other stories that may one day get told.

We all have so many stories to tell. How about you?

Do you find some things just unhatch the lid on your mind, like opening Pandora’s box, letting out more than you keep up with?

Remembering my Old School friend Shirley

Life seemed much more simple back in the 1950s. At school everyone seemed the same, regardless of their ethnic origin, home circumstances or anything else that may label someone as being different. We were all just kids, learning and playing together. Life was good.

When I was about eight I had a friend called Shirley, a Chinese girl, who lived on the edge of town in a market garden. Whenever I went to play with Shirley we’d sneak along the other side of the hedge, so the old wrinkled Chinese man sitting on the front verandah of the house smoking, her grandfather, didn’t see us. I don’t think he liked kids much.

Shirley and her family moved to another town the following year and a brand new tavern was built on the site of the garden. I often think of Shirley whenever driving past the tavern, now well within the city boundaries.  The sight that met my eyes the other day came as a surprise. The now old tavern, closed a few years ago, had been knocked down, demolished, reduced to nothing but memories.

Quite by coincidence, this coincided with a short visit to Wellington, where I’d listened to some exquisite Chinese street music played on an erhu, a traditional Chinese two stringed fiddle.

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1295592-the-old-chinese-man-and-the-magical-fiddle

Once again I thought of Shirley and wondered where she is now. I did have contact with her brother many years ago, but they weren’t a technology minded family and so we lost contact again.

How simple life seemed back then. In today’s world I would never have been allowed to go and play at a Chinese market garden on the outskirts of town, with a family my parents didn’t know. No harm came to us back then, but we can’t be quite so trusting now.

That’s sad, isn’t it?