1 August - In the Ruahine
Robb and Gustav
It does not take long to feel the mountain energy inside me. Meandering over the farmland to the Ruahine boundary brings warmth to my soul, and the easy stroll through the wide forest path seems effortless. The musical accompaniment of water and wetness all around, the insistent fast falling stream beside us, and the thumping muttering of the river further below and the thought of the next 3 days amongst this symphony fills me with joy. That sound will soon become part of the background, part of my existence, but I am always aware it is there, and how beautiful it is, and how fortunate I am to even be here. Last week I was up high, alone amongst the snow covered tops, the music of the wind on the tussock and the tupare, beeches and Kaikawaka, so to now to be lower amongst the life giving water released from on high somehow completes the journey.
That I am here with one of my oldest and dearest friends just heightens and brightens the smile upon my face. I am Home.
Getting ready for the light show at sunset
Sunlit beech after a rain shower
Always a bit of work to be done. Gustav resupplying the wood stock.
Back in November of 1991 I visited Gustav out in San Francisco where he was living at the time. We spent an entire day in the John Muir redwood forest, walking deep into the musty coolness and intense energy of the huge red woods. It was a day that moved me deeply, one that for told to me that change was upon me, that Nature was calling strongly. Six months later I met Tara, and 6 months or so after that I moved to New Zealand. I wrote the following poem later that day back at Gustav's Sausalito home. At the time we had known each other for over 10 years and I wanted to convey the beauty of the day and the depth of our friendship. When I came across it a few days ago I realized it is a poem that has grown with us. Gustav's first trip to the Ruahine was in 1998 when we spent 4 days in the Whanahuia's. Like the trip to the red woods moved me, the Ruahine impacted Gustav deeply as well. Not long after he moved to Tasmania where he still lives. To Old Friends!
"Tall statues of Nature's Domain
Their presence dominating yet gentle
The energy palpable
A timeless blanket of protection and strength
We walk in their midst
Silent, and awed
Unhurried and sure
My friend walks ahead
Noble and Thoughtful
And though we walk separate paths
in our lives
In our hearts
May our footsteps remain the same."
19 years later, my friend walks ahead in the Ruahine.
Ruahine forest and river.
Deep in a Ruahine valley by the river
Gustav diligently chops wood, and drags more out of the forest. All is wet and saturated and will test our fire building skills. I tend to our steaks marinating in olive oil, a bit of garlic and black bean sauce, and just before cooking to be encrusted with crushed pistachios and almonds. It is, after all, a special occasion. We are here.
The forest walk sidling above the river, one of my favourites, was an invigorating and renewing experience. A year ago, on the same walk with John, my hip hurt so bad I was almost in tears. Looking back I am not even sure how I did it, and perhaps it was only the energy pulsating in this lush place that flowed into me and allowed me to continue. Today I walked and smiled, looking ahead at troublesome roots and slippery rocks, or steep climbs and descents that would suddenly be behind me. The forest was lit up in vibrant greens and crystalline droplets of water. The glowing mosses and lichens greeting me once again under the forest canopy.
At one stage I thought I would just forget about hopping from log to rock over a particularly muddy section, as I was already wet and muddy anyway. I decided to just walk through it so I did, only to find myself buried in mud up to my waist and struggling to with drawl myself from it's squelching embrace. I smiled at that too.
Winding up through the lush forest.
Sunlight through the canopy on moss, lichens and ferns.
The sunlit path ahead.
In the forest with the sound of the river close by.
2 Aug. late afternoon.
Being in the mountains over these past few weeks has been a revealing process for me. If it has reinforced anything within me it is to appreciate each moment I am able to spend here, and to truly recognize it very well might be my last. Though the Ruahine will always reside deep within my soul, the very real possibility of being unable to travel here hovers around me. And perhaps it should, for it is a constant reminder of the value these mountains have brought to my life, and the importance of nature and wilderness to us all. A fragile relationship at best. I finger the pounamu (greenstone) pendant which hangs around my neck, a beautiful gift given to me on my birthday by my wonderful friends. It's vibrant green and changing colours representing the lush forest, and the shape being the maunga, or mountain. I treasure it and I feel its warmth absorbing the energy around and of my own soul. We are one.
3 August early morning by the river
The river has come down noticeably during the night, returning to the more quiet mood of clear and aqua green when she is not so angry. I sit with a cup of tea and wait for a whio to fly by. I heard one earlier, and Gustav saw one yesterday. As long as they are here. So I have had the mountains rivers and streams over the past three days, the music now deep within me. Last week was the tussock and snow high above. It's music dwells inside as well. Both so beautiful, and so moving, each with it's own special and unique song of Wildness. Go to the mountains and Listen to the Music, get their Glad Tidings. I am here, I am alive! Te hei mauri ora!
The mountain river.
Gustav climbing up another spur.
Above the river. This place and shapes reminds me of my pounamu. The Ruahine.