Friday, June 5, 2009

Just a walk in the Ruahines with Charlie



Winter has arrived with a vengeance here in Aotearoa and the weekend had brought frost and even a bit of snow to the low foothills of the Tararua's which lie above Palmerston North. A very nice sight to be sure, usually gazed upon as I made trips to and from the wood pile. Late in the morning Charlie and I again got a bit ansty sitting indoors and we decided to go find some snow he could actually get into and amongst. Having grown up in Wisconsin being in snow is something that even now never really occurs to me as being a unique experience - I spent hours and hours shoveling the stuff, and it was just part and parcel with growing up in the north mid west. So I have to recognize the little boy inside me to really SEE Charlie at times. So we jumped in my car and off we went.


I love driving and Listening to tunes. Really Listening and focusing in on the music and letting it flow through me. Sometimes driving alone I can turn the music up Real Loud and have almost mystical experiences, find myself laughing, crying, shouting or banging on the dash board, which must be a real sight to those passing by should they happen to notice. Oh well.

In Charlie I have found a true tunes soul mate! Before we even get out of the driveway he is picking the cd and exactly which particular songs he wants to hear, and in what order. Then he turns it up real loud and Listens! He sits with a such a look of concentration on his beautiful face and sings all the words, laughs at his favourite bits, then concentrates once again. We don't have to talk, yet we are, we are together, we are communicating. I love being with such people.

Charlie chose Van Morrison's new cd, Astral Weeks - Live from the Hollywood Bowl, a sort of remake of Van's classic 1968 cd, now rated on most "lists" as one of the top 50 cd's of all time. It did impact the late 60's world of music, heavily influencing groups and people such as The Band, Tim Buckley, Bob Dylan, and a young Tom Russell and also Elvis Costello. Not to mention a host of newer generation artists including Jeff Buckley, Ray Lamontagne, and the Secret Machines. It is a pretty cool album, both the old and new version, and Charlie has very good taste for a six year old boy. We drove on through the Manawatu Gorge, each in our own thoughts. Which was good as I had, like so many people these days, a lot on my mind.






We never did find the snow, though it was indeed there up higher a bit further north and out of our reach on this day. We had left it a bit too late, and though it was still a very damp cold New Zealand winter day, the snow had melted.

We went for our walk anyway, up a track called Coppermine creek, about 30 minutes or so from home and just past Woodville into the ranges on the very southern end where they are separated from the Tararua's by the aforementioned Manawatu gorge.

I used to take Taylor here when he was little, but that was many years ago and I had not been back since then. It climbs up to some old caves dug out by hearty miners seeking copper, and then on up to the tops of the southern Ruahine along a spur above Coppermine creek. A very nice place to while away a few hours. The caves have been mostly filled in but one can still get a taste of what these guys must have endured trying to find the mother lode, which they never did locate, or even enough to make it viable. Apparently the caves still do contain some fantastic specimens of weta, a large rather prehistoric looking insect native to New Zealand. Charlie and I did not venture into what is left of the caves as I tend to not enjoy extremely closed in places with my large frame.

It is so amazing to reconnect with that simplicity and wonderment I feel in the mountains, even if only on a short walk with Charlie. Watching him ramble ahead of me I felt every bit the child I was watching. And these things which have been troubling me, some very difficult decisions to be made, become more tolerable, the reality of here and now, of this moment, comes into sharp and beautiful focus. I realize that whatever decision is made it will be okay, because it is not just "I", it is 'We" - my beautiful wife, my sons, family and friends, and these wonderful wild places. We are all in this together.
I am trying something new here and putting a song on by Van Morrison. It is not on his new album but is done by his new band. Called "The Healing has Begun", and off his 1979 album Into the Music, it is my all time favourite Van tune, a song of redemption, healing and love. My wonderful friend Robin recently wrote a post asking when we had become Aware. One of those moments for me was finally Listening to music which awoke my slumbering soul. This was the song.









There is always much for me to learn about being a father. But I do know a little bit about boys and water and I knew, ultimately that the stream below us would draw Charlie to it like a magnet. I also knew enough to chuck a few extra clothes in the boot of the car in the likelihood of such an encounter between boy and stream. He had a great time splashing around, so did I.

On our way back home and for the return trip Charlie chose the new album by Gary Louris and Mark Olson, Ready for the Flood. They had played a show in Wellington at a bar not long ago and Tara insisted I go as she could not. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen, and I have seen a few. Afterwards I waited around a bit sipping on a beer at the bar just enjoying the moment, and both Gary and Mark emerged from backstage and I got to meet them, even discovered we have some mutual friends, and just had a very enjoyable chat. So watching Charlie absorb these tunes as we drove along singing along is a moment that will always be with me. I shall share one more tune here, by Mark and Gary and off their wonderful new album, Ready for the Flood, called The Traps Been Set. Listen and enjoy.






Charlie tucked in for the night in my sleeping bag which he wanted to snuggle up in after our days adventure.


Aroha to you All.

40 comments:

Mike said...

Nice post, Robb. Those are some smart blue gaiters in the photos. All Charlie needs now is a sturdy good-looking ice-axe to carry through the bush, and then for good reason he'll no doubt be the trendy envy of all his friends. :-P

Marja said...

Oh Charlie is wonderful The photo's are gorgeous. So good to see you are so close and on the same line. I miss the time we went out with the kids. They are only interested in computers and their friends at the moment.
We always took a sleigh to Athurs Pass in the winter and had a picnic alongside the road in the snow. Winter here is not to bad.
Yes your son seems to have the right taste. I also like to put the music loud when I am alone in the car. One of the places where I can sing with nobody getting annoyed.
Hope you have many more enjoyable times and take care

Aroha Marja

Jamie said...

Hey onya Robb, gained a little bit of peace from your blog tonight, as usual. Thanks!

Take care aye

Jamie

Lost Coyote said...

Good to see that you're out there even in the winter...the mountain canyons have just opened up to us, in fact, there's still snow in the higher reaches...I'll brush up on my Van...keep happy, even on the shorter days!!!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
I wish I could claim they are flash gaiters but in reality he is wearing his Kia Toa Under 7's rugby socks! I do have an ice axe I have never used and perhaps I could attach to his pack when he goes on his first deep foray into the Ruahines when he turns 7. Or maybe I should attach it on my upcoming tramps, nothing wrong with at least looking cool!
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
A sleigh ride at Arthurs Pass would be magical. I didn't see much when I was there due to the weather but I could FEEL what was all around me.
The computer and friends thing, amongst others, is also troubling me with my teen age son. We had to delay our tramp for a bit and I am really getting anxious to be alone with him in a setting where those types of distractions are avoided. With Charlie it is easy, with a teen ager, at least mine, much more problematic.
I am glad to read you are a fellow car Tunes maniac! Somehow that does not surprise me Marja. Turn it up and Sing loud.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Cheers my friend. I didn't really have much in mind when starting this one, outside of enjoying sharing the walk and a few tunes. A lot like walks can be I guess. Glad you enjoyed.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora LC,
I have a few longer trips approaching so the short day ones always whet the appetite to go further. I think the philosophy of taking things slow and easy with Charlie is working, we shall find in October when he turns 7 and we stay out for a few days.
Hope you enjoyed the Van tune. He certainly rates with me. Trust your arm is healing well and those mountains call strongly. Rave on brother!
Aroha,
Robb

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, the most touching father/son post ever!!! You value your family and nature and that shows what a dear heart you are.


Kids grow up too fast.

Super pics and great writing.

Just lovely.

Hugs, JJ

Allan Stellar said...

Fantastic!

Patry Francis said...

Robb: It seems we are really on the same wavelength--both walking and listening to songs that heal and lift us up. Somehow I've lived all these years without hearing that beautiful song by Van Morrison. Thank you for correcting that! Your son is amazing. Blessings to all of you!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
Your enthusiastic comments always bring a smile to my face! The upper midwestern connection means a lot to me. The Porcupines!!!!!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Allan,
Cheers mate! Appreciate the visit in the midst of your project.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Patry,
I was fairly stunned when I read your post. The synchronicity was pretty amazing.
A few of Van's words in that song are:
"When you hear the music ringing in your soul-
When the feeling in your heart just grows and grows..."

Some of the best words about music ever written in a song. In my humble view.
Patry, so cool of you to check in, and thanks for Listening to the Music. Kia kaha!
Aroha,
Robb

lph said...

Robb,

I love the Van Morrison video. I have not listened to Van as much over the past few years. I kind of put him aside (most of his music is on my lp's), but your words and your passions of the man have got me digging up some of his music.

In the past week alone I've added several of his songs and albums to the hard drive. It's fun getting reconnected.

I like your blog. It's always a fun read, especially when you talk about your boys.

Charlie is a spittin' image of his dad.

Larry

Liara Covert said...

Found you through Robin's blog. Love your photos. Each person is on a journey. You have the good fortune to exist in the heart of natural surroundings. Thanks for sharing your insights. You are a blessing.

Robin Eason said...

My dear beautiful Wild Brother (and Snow Turtle) LOL! I just love that. This is one of your most endearing and wistfully sweet posts. And believe me, you have a lot of them. But seeing little "Snow Turtle" here in all his magnificent glory, with his wild pants and his face filled with heaven and happiness. WOW!! I am moved to tears. WOW! I am humbled by the goodness on this page. It is viscerally alive. His face and yours are just glowing and bursting with joy, I just can't get over it. There is so much I could comment on here but I can't get past the physical impact of the sheer vitality, beauty, love in your words and photos. I can't get past your love of Charlie, the land and life. I am still feeling how aware of him you are, his connection to the water and your knowing it would be so. Dear Robb, he will NEVER forget this.

I read this post awhile back and then again this afternoon and then I went outside to watch the sunset and water my organic garden and I was thinking about you and your boys. I think you must somehow save or archive all these posts, if you ever stop blogging. When I was looking at the sunset, I saw your sons returning to these post, photos and stories when they were much older. It saw them reading them and being deeply touched as it gave them insight into you (their dad) and how much you loved them and the land. I can see your work turned into a book.

I am so humbled and deeply moved by your genuine nature. Your love for your sons, your wife and family. I will keep you in my heart and send you courage and insight as you make these tough decisions. Trust you heart Robb for it is a beautiful one.

Aroha my dear Wild Brother! Always.
Robin

PS the image of you and Charlie in the car singing and sharing through music is priceless. Van M was one that changed my world too. :) Waaaay back when.

PS again: Charlie in the sleeping bag...the little Snow Turtle crawled back into his shell to rest. AND that last photo of you reflects the exact same radiant joy Charlie has on his face.

Barbara Martin said...

Robb, beautiful post with your son on your hike and the photos to compliment everything. When I saw the first photo of the stream I thought instantly 'little boys cannot stay away from water' nor for that matter, can little girls. It's wonderful you take your boys on hikes to the places that soothe your soul, and listen to chosen music enroute. Excellent.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Larry,
Glad to reconnect you with Van. I recall getting his album with the Chieftans back in 1987 when we both lived in St. Paul and really cranking it up much to Willies chagrin! We saw and heard some good blues back in those days as well. That Tom Waits concert at that small venue in Minneapolis was a musical moment to remember.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Liara,
Thank you so much for your visit and words. I don't get out in the mountains as much as I would like these days, but just knowing they are there, or closing my eyes and picturing myself there, gives my soul Glad Tidings.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
The VERY first Van Morrison song I ever heard was Wavelength. I don't listen to it much anymore but I am going to go do so when I am done here in honour of you, me and the Snow Turtle!
Charlie is easy, he brings out the child within me as most all kids will. It is my older son I need to find. I reached out to him this week in a letter I wrote to him. He didn't really give me any feed back but last night when he went to spend the night at his grand parents, as he was leaving came and gave me a huge REAL hug. That shook me to me soul and filled me with hope. We have had to postpone our Ruahine trip till mid July but I can't wait to be out there with him.
I am having a hard time getting my sleeping back from Charlie now!
Kia ora Robin for your unabashed aroha and support. Right back at ya. Rave on Wild Sister! Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
You are absolutely right, no kid would have been able to resist that water, and they shouldn't. Just a gentle little stream rolling out of the hills, at least gentle on this day, perfect to splash around in and enjoy.
Music and tramping are two of my favourite things!
Aroha,
Robb

Gustav said...

Brother!!!!

Charlie and Maya should get together. Maya listens to Van with a focus that reminds me of you.

"Listen Gustav, Really Listen!"

I have returned from N America and head out for the Overland Track in a few days. It will be winter and I hope we get snowed in for weeks.

Asta!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Brother,
Well, good musical taste is not a bad thing to pass on! Give my Maya a big hug from me and tell her I am Listening as well.
Glad to read you are back safely from the Big Smoke and heading into solitude for a bit.
I am off to Taranaki for the week, under the shadow of the Rim of Fire, Captain Rick would be pleased.
See comment above from lph, which is Larry Hale whom I found and reconnected with, another Barbaric Enforcer found! I am sure he would be stunned to read from you brother.
Travel softly and silently.
Aroha,
Dobber

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Robb

i have read this post a couple of times and really enjoy it. Father son outings do major bonding and have huge impact on each. The van Morrison music somehow fits in to it all.

You continue to grow Robb, like those tall Totaras, and the more you grow the more you see from the tops while keeping an awareness at the base.

Arohanui,

Bob

Pam said...

This is another beautiful post Robb. Shiny souls!! I read a comment of yours on Barbara's blog about apple cider vinegar and your hip. Can I just tell you that my Dad is in his mid-eighties and physically puts his amazing fitness down to a glass of this a day (past thirty years!!)He was pushing a heavy trailer around the other day! I look forward to visiting here - good for the spirit. Thank you for the time and effort of your posts that resonate with a spirit of adventure in me that is not always physically possible ie. long and arduous treks, but you prove, as with Charlie, that there are adventures to be had for everybody.I intend to search out some mini-adventures in nature these school holidays - the big ones I'll leave to you friend!!I look forward to hearing of more treks by you in your stunning part of the world.

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Kia ora Robb

You are never out of my thoughts. I returned to find such an awesome blog with "Pride of family and nature" so masterfully embedded in your well written report on your winter excursion with your son Charlie. The photos are gorgeous. I see the love of your family and nature pouring out from every part of your being, shining in every word you have written.

Music is universal and I've found your selection most enjoyable. In fact, I have a YouTube account under Pattiedee and I shall go there and subscribe to these two tunes: "And the Healing has begun" and "The trap's been set". Reading and listening to the videos at the same time was most enchanting. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and some of your musical taste which I find most appealing too.

Cheers
Paterika

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Always appreciate your visits and feedback. It is my oldest boy I need to get out there with, and when I am done up in the lovely Taranaki area in a week or so I will do that, even if just for a night.
I have decided that next year as a celebration of my next birthday, and 5 decades, I am going to get guided up Taranaki in the winter. Spending all this time in her presence has enchanted me.
Bob, if you get by this way on your upcoming NZ trip you are more than welcome here mate!
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
I think even a stroll in our back yards can open ourselves to nature if we look around with the wonderment of a child. I must admit though I do love getting into pretty remote terrain, and I am glad you enjoy reading of those adventures as well!
The apple cidar tonic really does seem to be making a difference, at least in terms of the chronic pain I had in my hip, and I hope it helps me to continue my mountain trips. Your dad must be a pretty smart man to have cottoned onto the tonic 30 years ago and it certainly reads as if it has worked for him. Very inspirational stuff. Kia ora Pam.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,
So good to read from you and you are always in my thoughts as well.
I have been very busy lately, both with work and family, and I am looking so forward to my upcoming winter trip into the Ruahines.
I am happy to read you enjoyed the music. I never tire of listening to Van, it always seems so fresh and vibrant to me. Like the Ruahines his music has a special place in my soul.
Kia kaha Paterika, so good to read from you and feel your spirit.
Aroha,
Robb

Lynda Lehmann said...

What a wonderful day you shared with Charlie, with his joy adding so much to your own. You are fortunate that you and he feel so much compatibility.

How did he endure the cold water of the stream? It must have been freezing!

I have never lost my attraction for the sights, sounds, and smells of a rushing stream. I guess we are lucky to still be able to connect to the "child within." It makes for more empathy and better parenthood, too, in my opinion.

Your photos are lovely and so is the trail. I especially like the ferns lightly frosted--so delicate.

NZ looks like such a beautiful and unspoiled place. I was wondering how much of it is really still wilderness?

Aroha, Robb, and thanks for another New Zealand adventure!

adam said...

Kia ora, dear Robb.
I'm at a teacher's conference in So Utah, and in thinking about you and the long time since communicating, I send you best wishes with this short note.
I hope the winter is laying softly on your family.
All the best,
Adam

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
I too am attracted by the sight and sound of water, something deep inside me responds so strongly to it, a connection I am growing into.
Charlie really did not even notice the cold to be honest, but having warm gear ready for him made it easier. I loved getting him nice and warm, and on the way home listening to music he fell fast asleep.
New Zealand does still a fair amount of remote wilderness areas Lynda, particularly down in the south island where one can travel in places still where very few people have been. Protecting those places is paramount, for as much as NZ likes to promote itself as being "clean and green" we have a lot of issues outside those pristine areas in need of much attention. But the wild places are simply magical and I know you would connect to that immediately. I would love to show you a bit one day! Stay tuned, another adventure soon to come.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
Cheers my friend, you are never far from my thoughts, and I wish you and the Coyote a fine time and great success with the conference.
I have been feeling quite quiet as of late, a combination of business with my financial endeavours and very crucial family decisions, which have been made and now we move forward, and also the general melancholia which can often rest upon my shoulders like a weight till I shake it off, or learn to live with it. What I need is a trip to the mountains, and my annual birthday journey fast approaches. 5 days of Natures bliss await with my companion John. We have decided to climb into a fairly remote river valley, and a fine hut, and just hang out and be part of the scene rather than be moving in the mountains during winter. Thoughts of that keep me warm and smiling. So do thoughts of you brother, and thank you for thinking of me.
Aroha,
Robb

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Good morning, Robb. I am seeing evidence of leaves changing already and am trying to hold the coming winter off!!! It comes too quickly. We only have five months of leaves on the trees.

If you could hear the windy poplars whispering to each other now!!! The precedent to another thunderstorm but I love their gossip. :D

Have a super day! I have sent in book project two and am soooo happy!!!

Hugs, JJ

adam said...

Godspeed!
From afar, I salute your tenacity and endurance; I'll bed danged if I don't wish there was something I could do with more substance though.
I know the effects, and to some extent, the origin of meloncholia. It is a good place while momentum carries forward, but as of late seems to be more diffult to emerge from than it was when I was younger.
Enjoy the quietude and the results of your decisions, and I hope that those results come quickly enough to connect easily to the decisions.
As ever,
Adam

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
Perhaps that is why the summer experiences we have in northern Wisconsin and Michigan are so very vivid and intense. We only have a very short time to engage with sounds, senses, colours, and temperatures which will soon be gone for most of the year. Winter is a very different experience here in those ways. Not much really changes, yet the cold is a penetrating one so different my home place. The only word I can come up with is damp, the cold here is like a weight on your shoulder at times, this heavy cold we easily grow weary of bearing. I need to go the mountains! Thank you JJ for keeping me connected to my roots. That is very important to me, and I write to you Kia ora - which means Thank you as well as Hello!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
In this very strange cyber world we connect in, I have met in person a few people I hold dear. To have real physical interaction with souls we have met via these contraptions is very daunting in some ways. Gone is the opportunity to hide behind written words. We are there in real time and presence. The 4-5 real life people I have met have confirmed that I must be somewhat genuine, as each and every one was a very cool interaction.
I guess my good fine sir, is what I am trying to write, is that to spend a night in a wintry Ruahine hut, or a Utah camp site, with you and the Lost Coyote, is simply something I will stive for becoming a real moment.
Your words here my brother, have done me good than you will ever know. Kia kaha Adam!
Aroha,
Robb

Gustav said...

Brother!

It was good to connect on the phone a couple of nights ago.

There is only one constant and that is change. I see it with my life, yours and everyone elses.

What will tomorrow bring us? We need not worry too much as we only have the Present. Lets enjoy it.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Gustav,
Always a moment to relish connected to you in Real Time. Indeed!
Aroha,
Robb