Friday, April 30, 2010

The Healing Has Begun

"And we'll walk down the avenue again, and we'll sing all the songs from way back when. And we'll walk down the avenue in style, and we'll walk down the avenue and we'll smile, and we'll say baby ain't it all worthwhile. And we'll walk down the avenue again, when the healing has begun". - abridged. Words by Van Morrison, "The Healing Has Begun", from "Into the Music".

One of my friends and commenter's LPH, a man I have known for over 20 some odd years now, wrote in a comment that this song was very apt for my current status. Indeed it is LPH! What a song, a song of healing and opportunity and redemption. It has been one constant favourite Van tune of the ages, one that defines for me personally why I love the music. It leaped into my heart back in 1979 and has never left. Much like these mountains here in Aotearoa, the Ruahine, leaped into my heart when I was brought to them in 1993. So the words above, and the song stand true, and represent well my current journey, and how I am feeling about it. Get the song and LISTEN! (Get the whole cd, one of Van's best)

The photo above sees me emerging from the mist of the prior post. I am writing of course metaphorically, and the photos are from different trips, yet I have emerged from a lot of the doubt and fear, the unknowns of my last post. Above I am amongst the golden tussock tops, having done the hard yards and relentless steep climb from Makaroro valley and Upper Makaroro hut to the main Ruahine range. A lot of hard work and effort, rewarded by this expanse of wilderness, these mountains, the views, and whatever lies ahead. Take a close look at the photo and you will see I am actually battling to stand upright, poles and legs spread wide, and coat on in spite of the blue sky and sunshine. So you see, though I have done many hard yards, and emerged into the sunlight, it is now the wind that sets upon me. Another obstacle to be dealt with. Ride out the storm or carry on?

I went today on 70 minute walk along the river. In a fierce wind that kept most away, and I felt very much as if I had the place to myself. The wind was blowing hard through the trees and I let myself drift along to a Ruahine ridge on a stromy day and the wind blowing its song through the kaikawaka, tupare, and beeches. Not quite the same down here, and the wind held nothing of threat to me, even on my crutches. I have been where that song of wind means real danger. I relish the feel of it upon me.

The doctor's appointment I had thought was this Thursday, is actually next Thursday, so I am fighting the urge to get ahead of myself. In the three weeks since having the hip replaced I have progressed from standing up, to walks down the hospital corridor, 10 minute forays along the foot path outside, to yesterday doing the 70 minute walk down by the river. Most days I will do a 45 minute effort. I am also starting to get around the house without crutches and so am looking forward to seeing Dr. Brougham to get an idea of boosting my efforts with weights, the bike and so on. A bit of stretching would be wonderful but not advisable just yet, and if anyone has any advice or thoughts on beginning yoga I would greatly appreciate it. I am not quite ready yet, as these first crucial six weeks play out, but soon enough will be. And everything I do is pointing at mobility, flexibility, strength, and activity. The most wonderful feeling when I am walking is that pain I had is gone. So I dream of the mountains. Sitting here in the comfort of my chair, a warm house, and a cup of coffee, it is easy to write nostalgically, recalling all the wonderful trips and views, yet I know full well that with sweat dripping off my face climbing up hill, or straight down onto some creek bed, or battling a swollen river, or cloud obscured and wind blown tops, that most of the time the focus is simply on the next step, the next decision, to not stuff up. There will plenty of time at the hut or camp, or here in my chair, to let the day wash over me. So I sit here now and smile, and dream of steep climbs, and the golden tussock, clear streams and rivers, and the sight of the whio. Kia kaha!

Aroha - Robb

Friday, April 16, 2010


It has been 8 days since my surgery. I arrived home a few days ago and have begun the road to recovery. Sort of feels at times like wandering into a mountain day like above, vision murky, pack heavy, and lots of questions. My goal is more or less pictured above - a reunion with the mountains. But these past few days around home I have been reminded of so many other things I can hopefully look forward to doing pain free as well. Mowing the lawn, chopping wood and making a fire, playing with Charlie, going for a walk, or even just making a cup of tea. All without the constant companion of pain and grimace of discomfort that has been with me for over three years now. Tara reckons I look ten years younger without that grimace, and though I am sore and learning to walk again, there is a big difference between pain and soreness. It is almost too good to be true. I am on crutches, and will be for some time, but even in the few days home I can feel myself getting stronger, able to sit in a chair longer, or walk outside and simply breathe the air and dream of other places while increasing my distance and time. Today 10 minutes, but 10 minutes that has been the best part of my day.

Thank you all so much for your comments and thoughts. There was a point the other day I was in a lot of discomfort, and suddenly felt a wave wash through me and I felt no pain at all. Not long after I managed to get up and hobble here to the computer and check out the messages and thoughts and I really felt grateful for the time taken to visit and wish me well. It works. Kia kaha.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I came across some old photos today, and because they were of great significance I have to appear here and share this place one more time before the surgery in the morning. In the post prior to the last one I mention a place that this greedy and short sighted government and its corporate masters are slathering to get slippery hands upon, Parakawai in the Coromandel. These photos are of my first visit there in 1993 which I describe in that post. Coming across them today seemed a connected moment in many ways. Today it was announced the the Mokihinui river has been granted resource consent to be dammed, destroying forever 14 kilometres of pristine wilderness sheltering some of the most unique native flora and fauna and wild life left in Aotearoa. Just as Parakawai above does. I think no government should be allowed to wantonly destroy such places until the people who make those decisions have stayed there, at least one night. I realize the futility of writing those words as I write them. More's the pity.

That pool below was some 20 foot plus feet deep, at least at the time this photo was observed. A leap into the pool below took a bit of courage.

Gustav and I, directed here by my friend Nigel. Amazing place, amazing people.

In front of the pool above, an afternoon of swimming and exploring, building our stuff to actually jump off that fall above. "I'll do it if you'll do it!"

The pool. I have camped two nights of my life on the rim above to the left. I recall both vividly.

The common babble speak around places like this is always "no one ever goes there", this seems to be rapidly becoming the mantra of those whom do not go there. Parakawai, by definition, is not a remote place, it is easily accessible in the very well developed Coromandel. So it is now much often visited I suppose in comparison to my two stays seeing no one indeed. But how it moved me, took my breath away, opened up to me the emmense Natural Gifts of this land. To destroy it seeking gold is just obscene. Even though I have never been to the Mokihinui I feel the same about there as well. Who will remember such places when they are gone forever?

Man! Dig those red pants and purple high top Chuck Taylor's! What a spot, what a day. See ya'all later, just felt a real need to share these. Hopefully soon I will be back to actually being at places like this, rather than just dreaming about them. Kia kaha!