Setting the year ablaze

For the last few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year – something to mull over, to set intention, to facilitate ongoing inner growth…

For a few years there, the word was ‘No’, as in learning to say no, to be assertive, to DISCERN what was and wasn’t important to me…

Last year’s word was SHAMELESS, read about it HERE and HERE. See my SHAMELESS Pinterest board HERE. It was somewhat successful, although I did slide down into several shame spirals over various things – I think shame is in my DNA, maybe it is for all women, given the culture we live in.

Since the solstice, I have been mulling over a word for this year…all words of a gentle, nurturing nature were not doing it for me…I wanted something with an edge, with big metaphoric possibilities, with high-energy. Energy is what I hope for for this year. I’ve had a few ‘damp’ years, fallow years, resting years, compost years – and I accept them as part of a life passage, part of an organic process.

‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer them.’

-Zora Neale Hurston

Some credit to this year’s word must go to my friend EMMA – as part of my Christmas present she gave me a box of fancy matches which have the saying ‘The inner fire is the most important thing’ on the box, as I unwrapped it she said: ‘Well, you are a pyromaniac.’

It’s true. I love a good bonfire and often have a big burn in the backyard. I love candles, and incense. I use matches rather than a lighter because I get a small thrill from striking a match.

In yoga-teaching, we talk about ‘igniting the inner-fire’ – meaning both physically, as the core warms up, an internal heaters starts to fire, deepening the breath and warming the body…and metaphorically – the inner-fire being our drive, energy, prana, shakti!

So my word for the year is FIRE.

See my Fire Pinterest board HERE.

Like The Pixies I’m DIGGING FOR FIRE.  Hoping that this is a year that answers questions, and hoping to light a match to all my desires… watch them turn into the biggest bonfire on the most beautiful beach under the fullest moon.

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Backyard hobo bonfire in a rubbish tin.

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Plant fire – calendula in my vege garden…

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Winter solstice celebration from some years back…

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Fire sky, Queenstown 

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Growing my fire and eating my fire… 

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Backyard fire at a friend’s place…

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…”

-Jack Kerouac

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you can’t lie to yourself when you are walking

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My favourite mode of transport – my feet.

I like walking. I do my best thinking when I walk. I have my best thoughts. I process stuff. I see interesting things.* I couldn’t walk there for a while (about 18 months) because I had a pesky injury  which precluded walking, much to my horror,…but it’s better now and so I’m back to the way of the plod, foot over foot.

* (You have to walk without music, though, and without your phone in your claw. Put it away, for the sake of all that is holy, or better yet, leave it at home.)

I live in a very flat town. I miss hills. I’ve lost my hill-fitness (I know this because of the walks I take each time I’m back in Wellington.) I miss not knowing what is up ahead because of the terrain. Manawatu is big sky country. You can see for miles up ahead.

The best place I ever lived for walks was up a hill in Newtown in Wellington. The green belt was about fifty metres from my back door. I could be high up in the pines with an grand urban vista within a few minutes. Bloody lovely.

I also lived in Island Bay for a brief spell and when I moved there I swore I would walk along the beach every day, and I did, in all kinds of weather with a baby in tow.

No sea here, no hills, but still there is stuff to see, places to go.

I like reading about other people walking. I’ve read quite a few memoir about the Camino. I love Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read the Peace Pilgrim book. No Destination is another fascinating memoir of a long, long walk.

A recent walk around Lake Taupo – Willow trees and rowboats…

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So, with all this love of walking, I was fascinated to read this essay over at Dark Mountain blog recently about the Dutch artist Monique Besten who has made walking part of her artistic practice and process. Like Peace Pilgrim and Satish Kumar, she is walking to make a political/spiritual point. She wears a men’s three-piece suit (the ‘soft armour’ of her essay) which she embroiders along the way. She is refusing speed and fear and comfort in order to go very slowly across Europe, meeting people, finding things, making art along the way.

Right now she is walking from the Netherlands to the south of France. She expects it to take 99 days. She is 17 days into her trip and she is blogging it. You can read it HERE. Go back to the start and read it chronologically, perhaps…

I am enjoying it so much! It’s like the books I mentioned above, except with the extra thrill of being in real time, so each update is an account of her day.

Wonderful rich stuff for the fantasy life of the domestically tethered.

Lake mirrors sky – Lake Taupo…walking_4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the drought breaks and with it my rage and I farewell the tomatoes

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It’s been raining a good few days now – after nine weeks without rain, this wet stuff falling from the sky seems a miracle. How quickly the garden wakes up, too. From desperate and dusty, to enlivened, greening…drinking it all in…

Just as well, because I was getting major ‘drought-rage’. What’s drought-rage?

Drought-rage is walking past a house where someone is using multiple sprinklers to water their….lawn.

Their f**king lawn! …….when there are water-restrictions in place! It made me want to run in, turn off their sprinkler and throw it through their front window. Selfish sh*ts.

Drought-rage is seeing a man using precious water to clean his…..driveway. Yes, the concrete which his car drives up. Because it’s so important that HE have a clean driveway, right? I mean, droughts get dusty, after all. Surely anyone who cleans their driveway must be sociopathic?

Drought-rage is hearing the DJ on student radio saying she ‘really hopes it doesn’t rain because (she) has to walk home’. Yes, because the weather is all about you, honey. Never mind if there are no vegetables to eat this winter because the market gardeners couldn’t irrigate their crops.

You get the idea.

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Oh boy, the profound disconnect of people….with the weather, the local eco-systems, food sources, this earth which is our home. It pains me. It hits me in the heart.

On the recent writing retreat, my friend Helen said ‘there is a lot of rage in your writing at the moment…a bit of a rage-theme’ which made me laugh. Yep, I get ‘the rage’ about injustice and human stupidity often and intensely, but that is because I also get ‘the joy’. Two ends of the same spectrum. I love this world and this life so much that rage flares when I see people asleep to the riches around them and what their part is in the stewardship of what we all share…but joy rushes up just as quickly. I prefer my rage/joy existence to a sleepy/numbed/re-or-de-pressed one.

I was reading some yoga philosophy recently and it was describing how our environment, where we dwell, is part of our extended body. It described our physical body as our local body and our environment as our non-local body. It made total sense to me. The air we breathe becomes part of our body. The food we eat becomes us. Therefore our bioregion IS our extended body. Therefore, we should not waste the precious resources (like water when there’s a drought on) of OUR OWN BODY. & If our extended body is in drought, we ought to be happy to have to walk through the rain…in fact, if we are connected and awake…

that rain will feel like a baptism and a gift.

The magic in your life depends upon the quality of your attention. 

Anyway, I didn’t mean to write a rave – I meant to write about how the wet weather got me out into the vegetable garden, which as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had somewhat neglected because of the drought.

I pulled a whole lot of crops, the rest of my squat little carrots, the last tomatoes, the last of the summer beans…(I’m going to make a big pot of ‘farewell tomatoes’ soup this afternoon)….I gave the chooks a good go at what was left and am now deep into planning the autmn/winter planting.

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I’m inspired to make it a good season, despite the stalled start.

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain…

See you next summer, tomatoes. x x x

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tiny worlds of the Adam/McIntyre household

When I went south to see Neko Case recently, there were tiny worlds within the tiny world that is the small Wellington villa of my friends, Pip and Brent.

Brent and his daughter had made some miniature lands by planting some real grass in pots and populating these micro-farms with plastic animals.

The organic meets the inorganic:

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The perfect vegan farm:

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Giant pig or tiny barn?

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And Pip bought this small, ethereal and spooky populated terrarium for Brent’s 40th birthday:

Is she longing to escape or happy to be sealed safely in?

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reaping what you sow

Abundance of late:

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I do love my slightly-twee ‘picking’ basket, which I op-shopped last year.

So much goodness coming out of the garden right now…

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But on the downside – there’s been a bit of a sneaky drought on here, lately. I say ‘sneaky’ because it hasn’t made the news but it is definitely very dry lately. It hasn’t rained properly for weeks….so I’m behind in winter-planting because I want some rain to come before I entrust vulnerable seedlings and seeds to the ground. (I do water the vegetable garden, but it’s hard to keep it damp enough to support new life.)

So while it’s all full-baskets now, soon there is going to be slim pickings, while the baby leeks and spinach and silverbeet and fennel and parsley take root.

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Anyway – gather ye rosebuds, and all that…. or in my case, tomatoes.

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Church of Green

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On the weekend I went to a retreat to learn more about Kirtan, or devotional yogic singing…it was a restorative weekend in a beautiful place. I learned a great deal and even got to have a go at leading a Kirtan (very briefly!) which was terrifying and exhilarating all at once.  There were very talented musicians there and the two Kirtan concerts at night were beautiful experiences. We held silence after them and went to bed with uplifting music ringing around our minds as we drifted off to sleep.

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As a parent who is constantly thinking about food and meals, where everyone else is, what they are doing and what they need….it was such a treat to have beautiful meals provided and to only have my own needs to look after and I relaxed in that deep way, where even your bones feel heavy and  liquid…

I won’t share photographs of the workshops here, as there are lots of people in the photographs and I don’t have their permission to put them on my blog….but here are some photographs of the beautiful gardens and bush – the church of green surrounding the retreat…

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There were even dahlias!

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The vegetable garden at the retreat centre was just gorgeous – a permaculture garden with lots of companion-planting of flowers and a little bath-pond.

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No matter where my spiritual explorations take me, I always end up outside, with the plants – the beauty of the growing things, rocks, river, sky… soothing and uplifting me  more than anything coming from any human brain or mouth…

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zinnia, zinnia it was really nothing…*

Someone told me that seeing as how I love dahlias so much, I should plant zinnias, as they look like dahlias.

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Like dahlias, they are native to Mexico. Unlike, dahlias…..they do not look like dahlias! Whoever told me that was wrong, in my opinion. However, they are pretty! I grew them from seed which I sowed back in August and so it was a looooong wait for these blooms, but worth it – I like the vintage-y bright tones of the flowers. Check out those pinks!

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They do make me think of Frida Kahlo and Mexican embroidery.

I will probably grow them again, but not because they resemble dahlias. Just because of how much they cheer the eye.

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* I have this silly phrase stuck in my head like an ear-worm. If you didn’t know, it’s a reference to a the Smiths song: ‘WILLIAM, IT WAS REALLY NOTHING’.