Sunday, October 12, 2008

This is Why


It was a lovely day here in the Lower North Island, blue sky, a warm westerly breeze, hints of summer abound. I took a 20 minute drive from our house up into the foot hills of the Tararua ranges, which lie directly south of the Ruahines, separated only by the Manawatu river. I intended on going to a relatively new track, the Sledge track, which ambles along a lovely stream as it climbs into the Tararuas. I had with me Charlie, and my nephew Mac. The plan was to walk up the track an hour or so, and have a wee picnic by the stream at a cool spot I know. As sometimes typical on New Zealand twisty and unsealed mountain roads, we found it closed before the parking area due to slips. Having to walk another 20 minutes up the road before we got to the trail head, I decided we would just have a walk along the track for a bit then head back to the car for our picnic by the stream. Walking along a muddy road with two boys is very interesting, stopping at every mud puddle to test its depth, and there are many!, finding the waterfalls which course down from the steep spur above the river, finding cool sticks, getting them over thoughts of sore legs and being tired, and the thoughts of chocolate biscuits not far away.




I tried to put myself in their world, something I have gotten better at doing in my time with Charlie than I was with Taylor. To find a really excellent stick, to watch water spill off a cliff, chuck hunks of wood into the pool and watch them be taken down stream, and of course, just throw rocks into the water and see the splashes. It seems a hard place to get to sometimes these days, seeing through the eyes of a child, with economic melt downs, job losses, and greedy power companies rubbing their hands together coveting these places. Not to mention all the issues that existed prior to that, world hunger, racism, pollution of our world. Yet looking at these boys running free, free of computers and television, free to let their imaginations run wild, free to discover the joys of a river. So I allowed myself to be free, to just be in this moment, in this place, with these boys, and relish it completely. It was a pretty huge realization, maybe I am finally understanding what Abbey meant by keeping half of ourselves back to enjoy Nature. As I lie in the sun by the river bank, I became very in tune with the river's song, the hills and scrub shimmered in their green hues, and I could hear the voices of the boys clearly. I don't know how long I lie there, and it didn't matter, in these moments time means something very different.



As the boys and I drove away Charlie asked me to play him a song on the cd player. Charlie, in my opinion, is something of an old soul, and his taste in music is different from most 5 year olds I have come across. The song he asked for was by Ben Weaver, and called "Voice in the Wilderness", very much a cross between Johnny Cash, Kris Kristopherson, and John Prine. Part of the lyrics are as follows:

I'm not gonna give what you want to hear
I'm not gonna be with you in the end
It's as cold as the stars down inside of me
Hear the Voice that stands on the edge of the wilderness
Crying my god what'll I do with all this mess

Unless you aim right for my heart
you will always miss
You can hold a match to my love
it will always burn
In her arms I can make any two words rhyme
My god this a strange place
and these are strange times

words by Ben Weaver

I looked at Charlie singing along to these words, maybe not even understanding them, he just likes the song. These boys are living in strange times, and all the more reason to get them into Nature, and to fight to ensure that wild places remain for them to roam.



After all. little boys grow up fast.

Aroha





31 comments:

Gustav said...

Brother

Little boys do grow up.

But what a way to grow up, hiking in forests, rambling in rivers and feeling the presence of the mountains.

Its those memories with my dad in the wild that will always remain with me. My dad was always at his best when he was away from his job, away from paying bills.

You, understanding Charlie's vantage point, is so important. Charlie will never forget it and neither will you brother.

Phillip! said...

Don't worry the boot will be on the other foot soon....taking my father to the edge of the world!!!! Not him taking me..anymore!

DOn't worry bout your wind farm attempt, no chance too windy...nearly died ended up in a manuka bush luckily, crawl ova the range from Ruahine COnrer into Upper MAk, no one been ther since you had been !!!!!! FKign amazin, cruise on out to Ikawetea Forks, Ruahine Corner, most amazin place, might even see your first blue duck there, alot of sign!!!!!!!! New cut track down from No Mans(get hold of Ken Mills to set it up for you. Magic)
doing a secret trip, so the wilderness man does not publish a fking story on where were going !!!!!!!!!! I'll send you the page that has some of our trip on it,, dont tell anyone plz though!!!!
p.s added story plus pics on the website, will hav to return!

Cheers

Sugar said...

Wanted to let you know about something... BlogActionDay is looking for someone in your timezone and also in Hawaii to be the first and last blog for that day. This year's theme is Poverty. I don't know if it might help to spread the word about your beautiful mountains, but I'm sure there's a way to tie it in. You can find them at http://twitter.com/blogactionday

Good Luck, Friend!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Gustav,
As we have discussed before, my approach with Charlie is much different, much slower than it was with Taylor. This has allowed me a different vision, as well as my own experience in the mountains allows me to relax a bit more when in charge of children. Taylor and I were very much new to that environment. I certainly hope the boys do recall these moments, I know I will,
Aroha,
Robb

Lynda Lehmann said...

Another beautifully written account. I feel as if I took that hike with you and the boys.

You're so right that when one is absorbed in nature, time means something different. It's as if it stops, and we become One with the moment and the universe. A feeling that's usually foreign to our overly busy and preoccupied lives....

I share your hope that the great open spaces will somehow endure. Truly, I live for my time out in Nature. It transforms me--even calms the beast a bit.

And yes, for a five-year-old, this is a strange but perhaps wise choice of lyrics!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Phillip,
I will be over to check out your place very shortly. Ah, getting blow arounfd on the wide open Ruahine tops, thats living eh! I have seen a lot of Whio in the Ruahines, but not by Ikawatea which is a very remote, and hard to get to place. I must plan a trip that way this summer. Cool to read no one has been to Upper Makaroro since July, that warms my soul. You would have found it well stocked with wood to get that Corker fired up as John and I had quite a wood gathering session. Such a cool spot, always a remote feel to it.
You take it easy on your old man, I am sure he can more than hold his own yet! Ruahine Corner to Upper Mak on a gale like day is a long trip in anyones book mate.
Phillip, thank you for your plug about the wind mill issue on your site. I appreciate it. I am off this Sunday for 4 days solo, probably to Triangle and Pourangaki. You have got me fired up now my friend. Keep on Truckin'.
Rangimarie,
Robb

D'Arcy said...

Preserving these mountains for your sons is worth the long fight you are giving it.

These moments aren't wasted. My father never had the money to take us to Europe or to New York or even to California, but several times each year he loaded us into his old pick up truck and took us to his mountains. My father has always been at home in the mountains, with the rivers and valleys, fishing in a quiet spot and teaching us kids the beauty of that quiet.

I grew up and traveled Europe, I grew up and lived in New York, I grew up and went many places, but there is nothing, NOTHING like going with my father, getting on in years now, back to his mountains. And taking my nieces and nephews to throw rocks in the same lake as I did long ago is the most joyful time in my life.

Thank you for your love of our earth Robb.

ophelia rising said...

Robb, first I have to say that the last picture in this post is incredibly exquisite, and just takes my breath away whenever I look at it. It should be in a magazine, or something. Really. Wow.

And, I love how our children are in many ways, the greatest teachers we will ever have. Too bad that the powers-that-be don't listen to children as much - the world would certainly be a better place.

I try to expose my kids to as much nature as I possibly can. We walk and talk about the trees, the different variety of leaves, the mushrooms, the insects, the moss. Jack has a mushroom book, and he's always wanting to take these wildly poisoness-looking mushrooms back into our house to compare them with the pictures in his book. I have to let him do his thing, even though sometimes I think, "Ugh. I don't want that in the house!" But he is connecting with it all, connecting with his part in it, and that is essential and beautiful.

And Liv loves the bugs. Perhaps too much sometimes, as worms become broken in two and ants lose their lives in her wake. But she only means to hold them. And so, I let her, and try to guide her to be more gentle with them. :)

I hope to be able to see these, your mountains, someday, sans wind farms. And to bring my children.

vegetablej said...

Just
beautiful!

:)

Ruahines said...

Tena Koe Sugar,
Thanks for the heads up, if I get some time I will try and think of something. Right now the petition is slowly gathering names, and most of the recent ones are from New Zealand, which is cool. Have a great day.
Ka kite ano,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
It seems there are so many of us disconnected from Nature. I read a letter to the editor in regards to the wind mill issue and one lady wrote how the existing wind mills calm her, their ethereal presence reminding her of the goodness of man. I can't help but think if someone needs to take a walk in the woods it is her. We are becoming so disconnected from the Earth we take delight in 240 foot high windmills making us feel good. I am glad there of those who prefer the sound of stream or creek.
Yes, Charlie has always had his preferences for music he likes. I always have one cd or another playing in my car, and at home most often has some music playing and he always without fail hones in on very substantial tunes. Very interesting really.
Always good to see you here Lynda, have a lovely day.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'arcy,
I think most of us have some special memories with our fathers, and I am glad yours is related to nature. I hope your dad is doing well and my thoughts are with you and your family. I reckon I would like your dad, one of those people I could spend the day in the mountains with, speak a handful of words, yet come away having bonded completely. Passing that on to our young ones could be one of the most important things we do. Cheers D'arcy, have a cool day my friend.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ophelia,
I love that photo as well and actually have to credit to my tramping mate John who took it with my little digital camera. I can't figure out how to make my blog photos so that you can click on them to get them larger - anyone have any advice? It sort of reminds me of the current issue with the wind turbines and the moody Ruahines with her hand reaching to the sky and screaming WHY?? If you want I am more than happy to send your a copy.
As I wrote above to D'arcy I think that exposing our children to Nature is both our responsibility and a Gift for us all. You are absolutely correct in that we learn so much more than we teach from children. It is inspirational, both for Jack and Liv, and for you as well.
The Ruahines are here and I am sure would embrace you all with much Aroha. I hope I can show them to you one day. You rock Ophelia, have a fantastic day.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Tena koe VJ,
Kia ora. You bring a smile to my face. Have alovely day my friend.
Aroha,
Robb

Robin Easton said...

This brought tears to my eyes. You are such a beautiful and openhearted soul.

Re: seeing through the boy's eyes....Your depth of insight is extremely remarkable. You are doing for those boys what my dad did for me. Robb, I cannot even BEGIN to tell you the gift you give them of your time and patience and love. As you know so well, we ARE the Earth and when we grow up with no connection to her it stunts our growth, our perceptions, our health, our passion, our vitality...we literally become retarded (in the literal sense). When we feel NO connection to Earth it is easy for us to destroy her. Our current levels of collective destruction reflects the extent of humanities disconnection from Earth.

I know very well that you realize all this deep in your bones, but you inspire me to write it here to express what is in my own heart.

Robb thank you for loving these boys and for sharing you greatest love with them. These photos are beyond precious. This article needs to go in a magazine....your writing is beyond top of the line. And your sentiments are driven by passion and knowing derived from experience. A powerful combination. I can't even express my gratitude in words, none that really convey, but I know you understand.

Enjoy sinking yourself into the waiting arms of the Ruahines. Thank you dear dear friend.
Aroha,
Rob

Pam said...

There's a lot of heart-warming Dad stories here.Not meaning to add a downer, and meant humourously, I'd like to share that my Dad did agree once to take our family on a picnic "out in Nature" (to get some wood for winter). I don't remember it but Mum said she was so excited she packed a picnic lunch, but once the wood was gathered we all had to come home straight away, with no picnic. As a partner, I'd be telling him right where he could put those big gnarly mallee roots, and it wouldn't be in the fireplace either!Keep up the good work with your boys -so
enriching and rewarding coming here!p.s. I think my brother and I made a cubby with the Mallee roots and had some killer picnics in there - organic housing and crusty bread- situation saved!

Pam said...

There's a lot of heart-warming Dad stories here.Not meaning to add a downer, and meant humourously, I'd like to share that my Dad did agree once to take our family on a picnic "out in Nature" (to get some wood for winter). I don't remember it but Mum said she was so excited she packed a picnic lunch, but once the wood was gathered we all had to come home straight away, with no picnic. As a partner, I'd be telling him right where he could put those big gnarly mallee roots, and it wouldn't be in the fireplace either!Keep up the good work with your boys -so
enriching and rewarding coming here!p.s. I think my brother and I made a cubby with the Mallee roots and had some killer picnics in there - organic housing and crusty bread- situation saved!

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Robb

Such a heart warming story to read. I have two boys five and nine and a few weeks back had two days on an island with them kayaking and exploring. Soon, they will be adults and we have to give them quality, loving time.

here's to our kids.

I am leaving in a few minutes to the northern-most island of Indonesia, Pulau Wei. Will be thinking of you and the family Robb.

keep up the caring and inspiring postings. Arohanui

Bob

Ruahines said...

Tena koe Pam,
So cool to read from you! I hope all is well with you. Thank you for sharing your story and I love it. My experiences with my father and nature were far and few between. I have come to it via some special friends, and my own explorations. Yet I did connect with my dad in other ways. Still, at times he could be a real hard man. I have battled with that in my own journey, and still do. We are all, in some way, a reflection of our fathers.
I am so chuffed to read you and your brother made your own happy ending.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Safe travels my wandering friend. You are an inspiration. Yes, more and more I am becoming convinced that this role I play as a father is perhaps the most essential task I will fill in my time here on this Earth. To change the world is going to be a slow process, and we may be too late, but we, I, have to start in our, my, own yard(s).
I am headed into the Ruahines this Sunday afternoon for 4 days by myself amongst them. I have a fine wee stash of some fine Irish whiskey, and come sundown at a lovely mountain hut, by a crystal clear mountain river, I will pour out a ration into my tin mug and raise a toast to you Bob. Kia ora mate! It is a pleasure.
Aroha,
Robb

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Robb,
This is a lovely post. Your boys are so lucky to have a Dad like you. Isn't it so cool to watch the "flowers" that our children blossom into? We nurture them and take care of them and raise them the best we can but they blossom into something that's always slightly surprising, in a way (and I don't mean that in a bad way.... it's just that little Independent Spirit shines through so VERY early.... which is wonderful.)

I loved all the photos too.

God bless you, your boys, (your wife!) and the amazing land that surrounds you!

William said...

Kia ora Robb. Just passing by to say hello and enjoy your writing. What a great pictures and what a great time you had with the boys. I know the feeling of time being non existant and being part of such beautiful surroundings. I think being at peace in this way is the best way to pass that on to the world. This summer my brother comes over. Well loved by my sun so all the change that he can bring him back into the bush again when we drive around the South Island. I wish you a great sumnmer and many more delightful trips.

Marja said...

Oops I used my husbands (william)email Anyway ka kite ano marja

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Kia ora Robb

You are so right about the enjoyment of the outdoors. Mother nature planted the garden that way for the enjoyment of families to spend quality time with their young ones. This statement of your is profound indeed: "It seems a hard place to get to sometimes these days, seeing through the eyes of a child, with economic melt downs, job losses, and greedy power companies rubbing their hands together coveting these places. Not to mention all the issues that existed prior to that, world hunger, racism, pollution of our world. Yet looking at these boys running free, free of computers and television, free to let their imaginations run wild, free to discover the joys of a river. So I allowed myself to be free, to just be in this moment, in this place, with these boys, and relish it completely."

Precisely, the therapeutic nature of the natural and unspoiled outdoors was designed by an awesome creator for humankind's rejuvenation but sadly we are hell-bent on squandering this legacy.

Those pictures are lovely and I can see the glow in those eyes of yours and those kids. The love of mother earth's garden does that to all her true believers and followers. I enjoy this trip with you and look forward to your next trip among the ranges and will be once more thrill to see pictures of swans wading in ponds. Oh, the beauty of Aotearoa keeps calling me and I long to return again.

Ka kite ano
Paterika

adam said...

As our dear sun ranges further south, more toward your place and further away from mine in both perspective and warmth, I am glad that you will be benefitting from this transition.
Yeah, I'm feeling the tug of the tipping earth, a little displeased at the frost on the grass and leaves. The high desert of North America is going cold again, but I'm delighted that your land allows for both warm and cool. Outstanding playground for the senses of boys of all three ages, yours included.
I'm not abel to write what I feel inside, it's not coming out for some reason- I'm feeling weary again, I'm sorry to report, in truth- but I am terribly glad that you're out and about, dear friend.
Yours indeed in the midst of these strange times,
Adam

Ruahines said...

Kia ora HWHL,
Cheers for that and hope all is well with you as well. Yes it is a beautiful thing to watch our children emerge, and perhaps parts of ourselves as well. Have a lovely day.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
So happy to read from you, and I hope you are enjoying your sabbatical. I hope you get out and enjoy the outdoors with your brother. And appreciate the moments. I miss my family back home terribly at times. So maybe to make those rare moments with loved ones "timeless" is to spend them in Nature. You rock Marja, I miss you, please keep stopping by. I just got out of the mountains myself for 5 days, so will be posting about it soon.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,
I so agree, we are, as the human race, becoming very disattached to the natural world and that concerns me greatly. I don't know what else to do other than to make sure my kids have an appreciation of Nature, and that I do as well, and share that with those who enjoy my place here. I hope to see you here as well my generous friend. Have alovely day.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
How could I forget you! I have no words to write Robin in this moment, but that you were with me the last 5 days. I looked through your eyes as well. Stay tuned my lovely friend.
Aroha
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
Kia kaha my fine brother. You are fighting the good fight. As with me, that can sometimes be within ourselves. That folks like ourselves can come together and understand is a wonderful Gift. You write you cannot find the words, yet your words make the tears well up within me out of the power and thought behind them. We are kindred spirits Adam.
I have just returned from 5 days on my own in the mountains, and you were in my thoughts.
Take care brother, and stay connected, please.
Aroha,
Robb

ophelia rising said...

Robb, just to let you know, I just tagged you. (But please don't worry about doing it - I know you're very busy! :)