Thursday, June 28, 2012


Kettle Moraine State Forest Park - Wisconsin. Lake Michigan in the far distance.

"How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of Home". - William Faulkner

I came across the above words by Faulkner earlier today, and they sent a shiver through me. In a matter of days I will be boarding a plane, along with Tara and Charlie, and flying halfway around the world to my original place, Wisconsin. I have not been home in over six years. Faulkner's words struck me as I am not totally sure if I am leaving home to visit a place I am from, or leaving this place I now live to return home. A matter of semantics I know, but the real truth, and the connection to Faulkner is that I have felt his words strongly both in Wisconsin and in Aotearoa. Or maybe there is part of me in both places. Here in the mountains of the Ruahine, in Wisconsin the glaciated moraines and endless forests and lakes, and in both people I love very much.

My sisters Kathy and Trish, and my mom on my last trip home in late 2006.

There are so many people I am looking forward to putting my arms around. Family and friends both. And to visit places so integral to me and show Charlie a place that is also part of him. A sadness lingers in me that my oldest son Taylor is not joining us, but that is that. I love him, I worry for him, and I suspect that sadness will be beside me for some time yet to come. It is mine to own.

I am also somewhat nervous about what I will find in Wisconsin, and in America, in terms of having lived outside it for so long now looking in. The political discourse in my home state and in the whole country seems so mean spirited and no one seems to hear anything but their own tune. I know where my beliefs lie and I hope that does not clash with just putting my arms around people and hugging them - most likely never to see most ever again. I have had my eyes opened, perhaps they were half open back there, by some wonderful and amazing people here in Aotearoa. The way things seem to be unfolding in the world these days seems very ungenerous to so many, and to the earth herself. A simplistic view perhaps, but I am a simple man.

Friends Rick and Jeff on the Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Both have visited me here and spent many days in the Ruahine. This is a moment from my last trip home. Jeff still lives in Madison, and Rick in Milwaukee, both places I will visit. The Terrace above is where we all really cemented our bonds, debating and discussing, listening to the Friday or Saturday night blues or reggae bands, and drinking a few beers and stuff as well. It is still an important place for all of us.

Lambeau Field - Green Bay Wisconsin - Home of the Green Bay Packers! The colours, the pageantry, the marching bands - the states does indeed do some things very well!  Green Bay is where I grew up. I lived a mere few blocks from this stadium, used to hear the roar of the crowd as a kid and we played football in our front yards during the games, then run inside to hear the radio and  what had happened. I am going to meet some of those "kids" in a few weeks time, and very much looking forward to doing so. There are more than a couple of us "kids" who didn't make it very far past then. I still miss them too.  Green Bay and Lambeau are also very special places as well. Having my moms side of the family from Chicago - home of the hated Bears, made my childhood quite interesting. When the Bears played the Packers at Lambeau our house was taken over by grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends we called uncle and aunt, and best of all our cousins. Man those were great weekends as a kid. The Packers won't be playing while we are home but I am loving thought of showing it to Charlie. I have attended events in a fair few American cities and stadiums, none compare to a day like above at Lambeau Field. Green Bay taught the world to tail gate.

Even as I sit here now, some days before leaving, I realize and understand how quickly this time in my other home will pass. The Ruahine have taught me that well. To not anticipate too much, to not be disappointed or angry if things do not go my way - the mountains are very good for that! And mostly to appreciate and relish each second, each hour, each day, as if it could be the last time ever we are amongst such places, or people. I came half way around the world to learn those lessons which I needed to learn most. Now I shall be going the other way to apply them. And soon enough I will be back here, in my new home. There is a part of my soul that has been claimed by the Ruahine. A part that has truly found a home. And will never be lost again.