Rosalie Nicol lives among the remaining vineyards and orchards of the Waitakere foothills, on a property where pheasants still roam and rabbits play under the hedges. She attended Sacred Heart Girls' College in Hamilton where she discovered an interest in writing, prior to marriage and two daughters. Her interests are gardening, reading, compiling cryptic crosswords and she is now writing about her life, with some apprehension of her family's reaction.
Chickens scratched, ducks quacked and squabbled at the pond. The house I loved; old paint glowing in the sun. School holidays on the farm. My mother's sister had married a farmer’s son in 1918. Uncle Cecil’s wooden leg was a relic of the Somme. The appendage he managed with such dexterity, a rubber tip on the end softening the thud thud as he walked, fascinated me.
The house was refuge also to gentle Uncle Stanley; seventeen in the war to end all wars, wounds invisible. He retreated into dis-remembrance. Now he filled his days growing a cornucopia of lush produce for the table. He loved his flowers, too and let me pick violets under the rhododendrons. Sometimes he would present me with a delicate token, a bluebell or sweet pea then quietly smile and ruffle my curls.
A big Aga in the kitchen produced warmth, baking aromas. In the living room a coal range had an oven in which Uncle Cecil put his wooden leg to dry while he read yesterday's paper. He took me to see my first film, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, when I was six, in the big old car mechanically adapted to accommodate his leg.
Beyond the riotously colourful cottage garden there was topiary fashioned from English Yew. A larger than life couple stood side by side, merged forever into one form by an artiste's clippers of long ago. Further on a lounge suite, chairs and animals were positioned strategically across a wide sloping lawn.
I sat on a stool at one of the yew tables serving an afternoon tea of berries, to my little black doll. She was a Christmas present from my parents. Naturally, I named her Snow White. The sun always shone. Bees bumbled amongst the lavender.
"Don't eat any more of those fuschia berries, Rosalie, your mouth is purple," scolded my mother with a hint of a smile…
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Deborah thanks Rangimarie Kelly and Pikau Digtal for website design and artist Karen Jarvis for her image ‘Writers at the Devonport Library,’ (2023)