Alive by Carmel Byrne
Carmel is an Irish New Zealander who hopes, one day soon, to write a simple personal memoir for her daughters, to give them a deeper understanding of life in Ireland when she was growing up. In the meantime she is enjoying dipping her toes into the craft of writing with short excerpts such as the following piece.
Early morning, not long after dawn, Queensland 2013.
I’ve already been up to greet the dawn and join the murmuring, swaying Qi Gong group. Finishing our routine as the sun rises, I feel alert and calm. Next stop, yoga.
We walk in tacit silence through the lush grass, which is emerald after months of tropical rain. The air is a curious mix of fresh and damp. During my five days at this place I have become used to the sodden perma-damp feel of my clothes and surroundings. As we weave our way to the outdoor pavilion for our class, I play with words in my head and decide that I am ‘smulching,’ not walking.
We reach the wooden pavilion just in time. Within minutes the swollen clouds burst with a sudden, violent rapidity and the torrents fall once more.
At some point in the class, I find the meditation is working. My inner chatter has been silenced, my focus sharpened. I am now aware that the rain has taken a break. As I consciously look around and listen it seems as if the volume has suddenly been turned up. I become aware of a kookaburra chorus in the distance, the calls of other birds unknown to me, the rustling of the wind and the constant presence of the gently but authoritative voice of our instructor.
I feel strong in my body and in my mind. In my peripheral vision I see an arc of bodies in uniform pose. I am part of that arc. I enjoy the sense of rightness of being there, right now, of just ‘being’.
Rosemary is a collector of stories and grandchildren. She is a dairy farmer's daughter from the lake-beds of the Waikato but now lives as she describes, in an eco village, learning to live lightly on the planet.
I didn't expect to be living in an eco village in West Auckland, miles from the sea, or from my beginnings. I first heard of Earthsong when I was farming in the Waikato, living in a three bedroom bungalow on ten acres with out-buildings, cattle, sheep and gardens. The idea appealed; the opportunities for working together, developing a vision.
My grand kids call this a tree house and that describes it well, up two flights of stairs with a balcony, inside another flight of stairs leading to a mezzanine with windows at each end. These give a view of my neighbourhood with its path through the houses on one side, the road to Bethells and the mounds of the Waitakeres on the other.
I own my sky space. I love my north facing bedroom where the sun slants in on winter's mornings. I have little nooks for sitting where I enjoy different views. I look into tree tops where mynahs, tui, doves and blackbirds hide. Like a perching bird, I look out. Rain thunders impressively on my roof, and I hear the collected waters running through the swales to our pond.
I can be amongst all thirty households, or take myself off to the back corner, the orchard where I have wrested a garden from the rubbish and kikuyu. Sanity reigns in the 'back paddock.' My feathered friends and I expose worms and beetles and break up clods in preparation for planting behind wire-netting. I bring a basket back to my kitchen, one spear of asparagus, a stalk of broccoli, three eggs, some small carrots, two radishes and a few leaves of chard. My grand daughter harvests her dinner finding tiny potatoes.
Yes, I could stay out all day but underneath my bed live the boxes containing diaries, photos, letters and my mother's writings. This is where the work needs to start, under pioneer doctor, Uncle Donald Campbell's hand crafted bed already the subject of one story. This is where my work begins.
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