My Own Backyard

Firstly, a little housekeeping. I’ve had a couple of comments of ‘feedback’ about the roasted fig dish I prepared for the men’s dinner at church and, apparently, it was delicious. Good. I’m still harvesting every day and now keeping them in the fridge so they don’t all over-ripen at once. On Saturday I’ll create the dish again for a friend’s birthday party. Perhaps, as well as being the ‘stuffed date girl’ (fresh dates with cream cheese and ginger) I will now be known as the ‘roasted fig girl’, always good to have two strings to your bow.

And talking of bows…or drawing a fairly long one, I gave another talk about my book yesterday. It was an interesting day. It started when a friend picked me up at 8.45am and drove me to Te Awamutu, a rural town about twenty minutes south. She deposited me at the local Anglican church and I was picked up by three women in a car and driven to Te Kuiti, a small rural town in the King Country, about another hour south. They were three ladies from the Te Awamutu branch of the AAW. Anglican Association of Women. I belong to the Cambridge branch. The car had a Sat Nav and a very softly spoken female voice kept telling the driver what to do. We agreed it would’ve been a lot more interesting if the voice had become increasingly frustrated with the back route she took once she reached Te Kuiti. But I am inspired to get Sat Nav in my next car, just so I can disregard the instructions.

There were a collection of women waiting for us in the Te Kuiti Anglican church and they made me feel very welcome. I spoke for about an hour about my life, my books, my impending overseas trip, my faith. I learned about the sister-in-law of one of my Cambridge friends, who goes to the Te Awamutu church and water-blasts her own deck at the age of 92. We had a lovely communion service and then a shared lunch. I drew the raffle and answered some questions, told them about tour groups I’ve taken overseas and such like, we did the dishes and said our goodbyes. Their ‘thank you’ gift was a box of delicious home baking tied up in cellophane with a red ribbon. I’ve put it in the deep freeze for our own AAW meeting next week.

Watching the very dry countryside flash by as I was driven back to Cambridge, it occurred to me that I’m guilty of taking my own land for granted. If I’d been in a bus or a train going from one US city to another I would’ve devoured the scenery and noted the rolling hills, the scrub, the pockets of bush, the paddocks devoid of stock because there’s no grass for them, the quaint wooden houses, the patches of fertile ground where a stream rushes through…but because it was my own backyard and I was going from the King Country back to the Waikato, I accepted it all without a second thought.

I’m a writer, I should have my senses open to the world around me. whether I’m seeing cities for the first time or swimming with sharks or walking into town along a route I take almost daily. I should be attune to the sound of wind in tall trees, the smell of wood burning in the neighbour’s morning fire, the taste of a crunchy apple eaten on a brisk walk or the feel of sunshine on skin still cool from a swim. It was an opportune lesson and one I shall put into practice today while I take my suitcase on wheels to the local supermarket and do my weekly grocery shop.

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