Sunday, June 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Winter, spring, summer,
autumn, sometimes fall.

Falling into winter.
Never falling feet first
like the black cat,
green eyes shining.

No. I fall flat.
Not just flat on face,
but flat on legs
flat on back
flat on belly
flat; flattened
into the black earth
covered with the
chill blanket
of midwinter frost.

I fall down:
down side up
up side down
up side gone
down side down

Falling into winter
into the long dark
into the cold black
down side down
down
down

Solstice:
the light returns
up side rolls
over, slowly,
struggling to turn
up side up.

Even I feel the dark recede
just a little
up side rising
tempting
crazy.

Shall I let up side up?
Can I let up side up?

up side is fleeting
up side is fickle
down side is down
but so very reliable

down side up
down side down

Up side up?
A Possibility?

Up side UP?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Older Generation

Last week I went to Whanganui (note my politically biased spelling!) for the funeral of my uncle, Moore. After my parents both died eight months apart in 1988, I thought I adjusted to the fact that my sister and I were now The Older Generation. But when Moore died I discovered that I'd only been pretending to be a well adjusted oldie - the death of this last parental sibling came as a shock: not the fact of his death, but the fact of my status.

Once There Were Ten: Five a Side

Just eleven years old
Nancy was first to go:
My mother’s twin
lost to polio.

Then Sergeant Robert
went off to the war.
died in Greece
just twenty four.

Ned was sick
before he died -
for so many years,
it was no surprise.

Much later was George
who clung to life
trying so hard
to stay with his wife.

Lyndsay left next,
nine months later she died
neither she nor George
met their sixth grandchild.

Then the other Robert,
Alison, and Guy,
and finally Moore.
the last to die.

My sister’s still here,
our children, and theirs,
but we have become
the Elders, I fear.

Out of the Darkness

This year, for the first time in decades, I have managed to stay on top of depression by being very aware of how my body is reacting to the lack of daylight. Even when I know in my head that I have so much to be grateful for, there are so many times in my life when I can't feel it in my heart, times when depression is indeed a black dog on my back, and especially in winter. I have been counting down the days until Solstice, and reminding myself that soon the days will start growing longer again. Soon the chooks will stay laying again. The spring bulbs have already got several inches of leaves showing. However the last couple of days have been so wonderfully light-filed that I don't need the passing of Solstice - I'm already feeling like I'm on the way up.

Today, I rose before dawn - which is, of course, relatively late - because my sister was staying and was going to be leaving about 8.30 to go back to Auckland.

Looking wet from our sitting room, Mt Karioi was looking glorious in the early morning sun

The goat wasn't so keen on our frosty morning.

But though the stawberry plants were edged with ice,

I found this!

Ng Tong, the cat was enjoying a roll in the sun and dust,

and the chooks were looking a lot happier than on the bedraggling rainy days earlier in the week.

The ram pump that fills the chooks' water bowl, the cow's trough and our toilets, had stopped, but the chore of having to go down to the stream in the bush to clean it out and restart it, wasn't really a chore today

because the bush was looking so very lovely with the sun filtering through .

Even though it is winter, because we live in a temperate zone, I still have a bit of colour in my garden: the native flaxes and coprosma;

the arctotis;
the pineapple sage;
and even food - parsley by the bucketful, and look! a handful of pure sunlight to eat - Cape gooseberries.
I hoped the tagasaste would attract kereru and honey bees, but although all I see feasting in these trees are bumble bees and rosellas, I love their white flowers in the middle of winter.

I watered the hebe plants grown from cuttings that my friend Kate gave me last Wednesday when we visited her after my uncle's funeral in Whanganui. I love that my garden contains so many reminders of friends.
Bob the Dog ran away a few weeks ago, we think after being scared by nearby possum shooting neighbour. We spent a very anxious two days before Bob managed to find a car 4 km away on SH 23, and someone to drive him home. He drives us nuts some days (the cats as well, as you can see from his scratched nose) but we love him and are so glad he made it back safe and unharmed.
After all that, what a treat to sit down with a cup of tea and a piece of my sister's delicious chocolate caramel slice.
Then it was time to go into Hamilton for Jeff to get some Aussie dollars for his visit to Melbourne next week, and to sit his first university exam - maths.

Even in the carpark at The Base (Hamilton's biggest shopping centre) there were beautiful things to see.
And then while Jeff sweated through his maths exam, I spent a lovely afternoon with friends, Chantal and Cate: what could there possibly be to get depressed about?