Monday, March 28, 2011


 At the end of autumn
these lined my mother’s shelves:
bottled apple slices
golden queen peaches
blood-red blackboys
pear halves in syrup
rich red plums
strawberry jam
plum jam
for a treat – 
apricot jam
tomato juice
tomato sauce
green tomato chutney
pickled walnuts
pickled onions
pickled eggs
pickled gherkins
beetroot pickle

She had me help pick
peel and chop
and led me to take
as given
that this was what
one did.

In my pantry
garlic and shallots
hang from nails
there’s piles of pumpkins
home-harvested honey
quince jelly
feijoa jelly
bread and butter pickle
and in the freezer
Cape gooseberries
and sweet chestnuts
for winter nights
beside the fire.

WOMAD 2011

 The last time I sat down to write my blog, planning to talk about how great life is these days, I hadn't even started when the radio informed me of the massive earthquake in Christchurch, and the urge to write was transformed into a feeling of helplessness panic for people in general, and four people in particular. There was a time, not so long ago, when such an event would have plunged me into depression. A time where I would have actively pushed myself further down, believing that I didn't deserve the comfort of my life when the lives of others were so devastated. A time when I would have punished myself for not having been involved by making my own life as miserable as possible. But that thinking implies that bad things happen on the basis of the merit of the people involved, which is clearly absurd - just as the American woman who, interviewed after she escaped unharmed from Christchurch Cathedral, exclaimed, "We are blessed! God saved our lives!" - implying that those who died had been abandoned by her god.

Well, I have moved on: I will no longer subscribe to superstitious thought. I will grieve without self-flagellation. I will worry about those I love without denying my own life. And just four weeks after that time of destruction, I headed off to WOMAD Taranaki with my family and friends. It is so exciting to me to discovery that I can be happy without hiding from sadness. Many of the artists said something about the situations in Christchurch and Japan, offering support and love without losing the joy of WOMAD.

For three years now, in the lead up to WOMAD I have made a flag. We camp on the race course next to Pukekura Park, where WOMAD is held, and this year there were eighteen of us camping together. Mac and I have taken to hiring a caravan which serves as a camp kitchen, and as a refuge from cold, wind and rain, although that wasn't needed this year. The flag flies over our camp.

World Of Music And Dance is about music and dance, but more than that. Many of the artists draw attention to issues such as the earthquakes, the importance of keeping New Zealand nuclear free, GE free, factory farming free, issue in other countries such as war and peace, working conditions, fair trade - it's not just a festival of music, but a festival of awareness.
 Calypso Rose - 70yo and more energy than I have ever had!
 Nga Tae, Including the great Richard Nunns

WOMAD is about fun hats and lots of flags. The site flags are provides by Angus Watt and are simply gorgeous.
 Most importantly for me, WOMAD is about spending fun time with family and friends, and this year was extra special, with my elsest son, Greg, and his partner, Maggie, joining us for the first time. I love having the big group, and it means that no matter what you want to do, there's always some one to be with if you want.
 Then, of course, there's my beloved Mt Taranaki, which I fell in love with while at boarding school just down the road.
 Eventually, we have to go home, but I still have my flag to hang in the hall way - signed by each of our group of campers.
And I find myself reluctant to relinquish my WOMAD toenails!