Anne grew up in the Waikato but spent most of her working years in Australia. She and her husband returned to New Zealand to retire. She enjoys leisure times spent with her husband and their pets, does some volunteer community work and some study. While she wrote a lot in the context of her work, journalling is an opportunity to write for herself.
Kate Llewellyn’s A Fig at the Gate; The Joys of Friendship, Gardening and the Gaining of Wisdom (2014) attracted me because I lived in Australia for 25 years and enjoyed the work of Australian women writers. She is establishing a new garden and, like her, I had planned two gardens — with professional help — then maintained, or ruined, them depending on how you look at it. I bought a glasshouse. Propagating plants was my hobby. Don’t buy a glasshouse. You take cuttings from other’s gardens, sprout them and end up with surplus plants and the landscaped garden becomes overgrown. I admire Kate’s meticulous gardening entries, the delights and challenges she records. She enjoys gardening programmes; she grapples with conflicting advice about pollinating figs; she embraces companion planting - marigolds need to go in next to tomatoes to control nematodes.
Kate and I have more things in common. She writes “watching myself age is like watching an explosion far out in a calm sea. So peculiar, so irrationally unexpected. I would sometimes be surprised when a person would offer to help me lug groceries or give me a seat on a bus. How do they know that I am old’’ I empathise. When asked “do you have your Gold Card” I wonder how do they know I’ve got one? I live in an apartment complex — no it’s not a retirement village. Of the five apartments on our floor, four of the women have just turned seventy and the fifth one will shortly. We look at each other - do we look seventy? Of course not. Kate says “this is an example of something so outrageous and vain that it makes her smile”. Kate is some years older; her smile comes from looking back. Seventy is new to us. We manage a weak grin. My activities, reactions, emotions in this new age will shape my journal. I’ll test Kate’s hypothesis that “old age liberates one from convention”.
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