WQW – 5 Senses: Tasting the memories

Aaah the taste of Bluff Oysters – the new season started 1 March, and at last my blog posts will restart this month. 

I have been MIA for most of February due to our extended summer road trip through areas with limited wifi reception.  I have focused – pardon the pun – on using my camera extensively rather than blogging. 

“Pull up a chair

TAKE A TASTE

Come join us.

Life is so endlessly DELICIOUS.”

Ruth Reichl

This quote is meant to be about food but let’s take it a step further. I have been tasting the delights of travelling around the stunning South Island, especially Central Otago, Fiordland and Southland. I’ve been chasing rivers and waterfalls, mountains and fiords, and the elusive Lady Aurora herself. The Aurora Australis remained elusive but the waterfalls were amazing.

Central Otago: 

Parked over alongside Lake Dunstan in Cromwell, the weather was stunning with very hot summer days  and  balmy evenings. Just right for enjoying happy hour, (G&T, beer, crackers and cheese)  with our neighbours in the campground. after a leisurely stroll along the lake. 

We also parked up beside the mighty Clutha River at Millers Flat, otherwise known as the ‘fruitlands’  where we tasted the famous Roxburgh apricots and had a tasty dinner at the old tavern across the historic bridge built in 1897.

I was thrilled to find an old hand painted aerial photo on the wall. My first job was using photo oils to hand paint photos just like these. A meaningful memory for me and a great overview of the Clutha River at Millers Flat.

Fiordland

We spent a few days relaxing in Manapouri before heading to Te Anau, to catch up with friends, and attempt to capture an image of Aurora Australis -I found just a bit of airglow at Manapouri.

We decided to take the coach tour to the Milford Sound, where we boarded the Milford Haven to cruise  through the Milford Sound towards the Tasman Sea. Although we had been there before, Milford Sound never ceases to amaze me within its spectacular mountains and magical waterfalls. 

If you never been inside a waterfall, this is the place to do just that. I got soaked, my camera got soaked – and it was magical. The water tasted pure and delicious on my tongue (surprisingly – my camera survived another wet adventure).

Entering the Tasman Sea

Southland:

Bluff is the southern- most harbour at the bottom of the South Island.   Bluff is also world famous for these delicious Bluff Oysters. 

Some say that Bluff oysters are the finest in the world. They are grown slowly in the cold clean waters of the Foveaux Strait. In season, (March till about August) they are dredged by Bluffs oyster fleet. Oystering first began commercially at Stewart Island in the 1860s.”

Bluff Oysters

Many years ago the North island company I worked for had a social club which organized a  weekly shipment of fresh Bluff Oysters to be flown in. I had a regular order for 5 dozen bluff oysters which arrived each Friday of the season.  All weekend we would eat oysters. We ate raw oysters, battered oysters, oysters wrapped in bacon   (Angels on horseback), and oysters baked in a creamy white sauce. The taste was divine every which way they were prepared. Another meaningful memory!

And in my world I did find the pearls. 

The Bluff Hill Lookout offered spectacular views across Fouveaux Strait  to Stewart Island/Rakiura, our next destination. 

We had decided on a day trip rather than struggle to find  expensive and scarce accommodation.  The weather was perfect for the one hour catamaran crossing of Foveaux Strait, notorious for its usually wild weather.  

We  scheduled an island bus tour in the morning and a boat ride with guided bush walk on  Ulva Island, a wildlife sanctuary, in the afternoon. These kept us busy. No time for tasting any food at  all but we drank in the peaceful scenery and spectacular sights. We heard the bird calls as we trod carefully and quietly along the forest track. We touched the texture of the trees and leaves.

It was a truly a tasty feast for all my senses. 

https://alwayswrite.blog/2022/03/09/wqw-five-senses-taste

This is also my contribution for Sunday Stills https://secondwindleisure.com/2022/03/06/sunday-stills-making-meaningful-memories/

Sunday Stills – Going Back in time

Going back in time, I found this intriguing photo  amongst my travel memories, It was an interesting way to tell the time, at least in the afternoon.

“In the centre of the Old Town Square in Prague, there is  a line on the cobblestones. At the start of the line, which is called Prague Meridian until 1918 stood a huge Marian Column. The shadow from the column fell on the meridian and locals could check the time. The Latin inscription on the Prague meridian says: «Meridianus quo olim tempus pragense dirigebatur», which means “In the afternoon you can see the exact time in Prague.”

Going back into family history brings memories alive again. Delving through the old photos and memorabilia of earlier times reminds us of how life must have been then back then.  Learning about our history also teaches us how to look forward. The baby in the middle photo is the great grandfather of my granddaughter is holding a photo of the grand uncle who is also pictured in the photo on the wall.

This week Aotearoa/New Zealand has been celebrating Te Wiki o Te Red Maori/Maori Language Week. I thought it timely to share this whakatauki/proverb which is also about going back so you can move forward in strength. 

Titiro whakamuri

Kokiri whakamua


Look back and reflect

so you can move forward

Pictures of the past – precious memories

I have a picture in my mind’s eye.


Once I was a little  girl with blonde curls and blue eyes, clutching a cuddly soft toy under my arm.

Those eyes blinked once, and then suddenly I am ten. Already I have found some interests to pursue. 

I had my first riding lessons on a black racehorse named Chunkette. She left a lasting impression on me (and not just on my tender bottom) Gentle to ride yet she had a quietly determined character. She liked to lead the way when trotting along the jungle path.

I took many photos with my brand new camera and instantly I was hooked into an abiding passion – photography. Such magic to be able to capture pictures of the present which would become fond memories of the past. What an exciting and absorbing activity this has become. Little did I realise at that moment how my childhood interests would become my lifelong passion.


I blinked again and it was the next decade  I kept up my horse-riding. I took  pictures to record my interests and life experiences but alas they  went missing over the years.


I learned to develop and print my own film photographs in the school darkroom. Precious pictures of those schoolgirl years long since past but still they remain in my albums.


A decade after my first riding lessons, I bought my own horse. Yes it was another beautiful black racehorse. It seems I had a certain affinity with racehorses. I took pictures of course.

My first job when I left school was hand-painting aerial photographs using photo oil paints. My second photographic job saw me making large mosaic aerial photomaps of rural properties. No horses but plenty of farm animals in the photo maps. Lots of time spent in the darkroom, developing and printing very large aerial photographs, using copy cameras and retouching negatives.

Once again I was making pictures to identify the present land use and to record these for posterity.


In my third decade my passion for photography was set aside for a short time as motherhood and parenting took priority.  However there were still plenty of photographic opportunities in that part of my life journey. I  took many pictures of my children and I put them in my family albums.

I look at these pictures  of the past quite often these days. 


Fourth decade: As I travelled the country with my work in early childhood education, I became aware of the emerging importance of photo documentation of children’s learning journeys.  I took many pictures of early childhood environments, examples of best teaching practice, and of the many work colleagues who became close friends. I was able once again to focus on my lifelong passion for photography. 


I had also discovered digital and video cameras. Now there were limitless images to capture and record. And so much more to learn. The internet arrived.  I started a 365 project – a photo a day for 365 days.  I’m now into the 8th year of my 365 project. What can I say… it is an addiction. And I’m still learning.

Over the last three decades I have been capturing my travel memories in photographs. So many pictures to record our amazing trips around the world.  Travelling internationally may now be a distant memory. 

These memories are already my pictures of the past.

Fortunately, I now have 7 grandchildren. My latest and greatest joy is when I capture pictures of their blonde curls and blue eyes. The pictures of the past have become the pictures of the present generation.


I must have blinked my eyes at least once for every decade as my life changed direction, yet I still remain focussed on my abiding passion.

And the pictures of my past? they are still there to remind me of my lifetime memories. 

SundayStills 2021 – my favourite #Landscapes from around the world

Croatia landscapes:

Such happy travel memories of our Croatian trip.Plitvice lakes and Krka waterfalls – so many water-scapes and waterfalls.  Walking alongside, walking across, around and above the waterfalls was a magical experience.  Water, water everywhere.  

“Plitviče Lakes National Park is a 295-sq.-km forest reserve in central Croatia. It’s known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water.

And when we got to Krka we could swim close to the waterfalls. How lucky were we to have this experience when we visited in 2018. 

2020 was the final year in which visitors to Krka National Park were able to swim in Skradinski Buk, the largest and most-popular water asset situated there. From January 2021, the practice of swimming in this section of the park has been banned.

“Krka National Park is situated along the Krka River in southern Croatia. It’s known for a series of 7 waterfalls.  Skradinski buk is one of the most attractive parts of the park. It is a massive, clear, natural pool with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other. It is the lowest of the three sets of waterfalls formed along the Krka river.  In an area 400 m in length and 100 m in width there are 17 waterfalls and the total difference in height between the first and the last falls is 47.7 m. 

Swedish landscapes

Where my Swedish family live in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Sweet memories of our most recent overseas trip in 2018 – who knows when we will return?

NZ landscapes
A little closer to home – these images of the South Island of New Zealand are special to me as a ‘mainlander’. Taken over several road trips around the South Island in differing seasons, each has been a particular highlight.

Aoraki, Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo- the magical mountains and lakes of the Mackenzie region. 
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height, as of 2014, is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet). It lies in the Southern alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island.”

Hurunui Hinterland – we explored the Hurunui River from the source at Lake Sumner, a remote high country lake through the hinterland and Canterbury Plains to the Culverden basin and thence to the coastline of the Pacific. 

“The Hurunui River is one of the most diverse braided rivers in Canterbury. It has two main branches, each with distinctive attributes originating east of the Main Divide in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Some 150km long, the total catchment area of the river is 2671 km2.”

My last image has to be an especially favourite landscape though – it is the point of light at the end of the beach where I live.  No matter how far I’ve travelled,  there is no landscape like the one I live in – at home.

And that is the point of this post.

The Point of light – Ohingaroa Bay

Sweet Chaos

Twice or three times a week, I would drive the ‘mom’s taxi’ to the practice grounds.   Armed with study guides, notebooks and highlighters, I would sit in the car parked up alongside the football field for an hour or two. Whilst my three sons slipped and slid over the muddy ground I would sip from my thermos mug of black coffee, as I read and highlighted the important bits of brain research theory.  Reptilian, Limbic, Neocortex. Which part was which and what part of our body did each control?

Does the release of cortisol into the body boost our adrenaline to support fight or flight?  Can we control our fight/flight reflex at all? What enables the brain to function the best?  How and why do we think and how does that make us feel? What are the neurons for? And just what is the synaptic gap? So many questions to consider. 

With the light quickly fading and the evening mist arising, it was already a cold winter’s evening.  Engrossed in a wordy piece of research about brain theory, my own neocortex was replicating the weather which was becoming foggier by the moment.  I struggled on with trying to understand the difficult words and the configuration of the brain. 

The end of practice session was signaled by a piercing whistle which alerted all the soccer mums to the imminent arrival of their hungry and muddy kids.  I sighed and snapped the study guide shut. The next two hours would by far be the toughest and most chaotic part of my day. I briefly wondered which part of my brain would win the battle.

I had to rush home to get the dinner started, bring in the days washing – if it had actually been pegged onto the clothesline that morning –  supervise the homework, sort out the silly sibling squabbles, walk the dog, kick the cat off yesterday’s pile of washing, feed the cat, dog and the kids, supervise the hot showers or baths of muddy kids and throw another load of laundry into the washing machine.

The joys of being the ‘soccer mum’ and the ‘paid to work’ mum. Both roles have their own rewards. One financial and the other emotional.  Sometimes I struggled enjoying either of these rewards. The financial rewards of the one very quickly became the emotional reward of the other.  At least I could pay for those soccer fees and the purchase of the ever-increasing sizes in football boots. 

After a tough day in the office, I had to make the best of a bad bargain. Although it wasn’t exactly a toss of the coin it seemed like it was always my job to  pick up the boys from school and get them to soccer practice on time. The coach’s standard rule was any player turning up late to practice. had to sit on the bench for at least the first half of the Saturday game. Such a responsibility – but what else are soccer mums for?  Oh wait – there are soccer mum rules? How did I miss that memo?
Soccer mum sideline support rules:  

  1. Don’t be a sideline critic. Remember those referees are volunteer parents too.  They may not  be as dedicated as this ‘soccer mom extraordinaire’ but they are an essential part of match day. Who else  can you blame when your kids are losing….?
  2. Be the grand provider of the oranges when the Saturday morning half time whistle was blown. How many times did you cut those oranges into quarters ready for the slobbering grins of the thirsty players?
  3. Make sure the kids have all their gear  especially those football boots and shin pads
  4. Get them to the game on time.

And at the end of the muddy match, there is the inevitable ‘post-mortem’ commentary from the father figure forgetting that he was not the actual coach. Meanwhile, I just loaded those muddy kids into plastic rubbish  bags tied up just above their necks for the car journey home. Once home they were hosed off before they were allowed to enter the house. They were of course allowed to have hot showers  but the first ritual was the cold hose-off in the garden to rinse off the worst of the mud. What other soccer moms did this cruel thing, I wondered?

Rummaging in my desk drawer for a couple of AA batteries for the tv remote, I glanced longingly at my expired passport. “How long has it been since I had enjoyed the freedom of the young traveler’s lifestyle,” I pondered.  Fond memories flickered through my mind and blocked the sound of the tv blaring through the living room door.

In an instant I was back there, sitting in the dappled shade of the river bank, sipping from a champagne flute, giggling as the bubbles tickled my nose. I could hear the babbling of the water as it trickled it’s way downstream.  I stretched my toes out and wriggled them into the long grass.  The picnic blanket was crumpled beneath the remains of our feast. The soft cheese mingled with the grape stalks and the breadcrumbs. The discarded bottle had rolled onto the grass. My traveling companion was passed out on the rug. I was  basking in the summer warmth. All was calm, everywhere were happy people relaxing and enjoying summer. Time for a little snooze time, I thought …. and yet, I felt something was missing. Something was wrong. At the edge of my mind, I could hear something. And I lost focus. 

Once again I was back into my sweet chaotic world. “Mommy, mommy, he hit me…!

https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/11/01/november-writing-prompts

5. Passing-on the passions

I have a granddaughter who is showing interest in  activities that have been abiding  passions for me for many years. 

The most memorable treasure I inherited from my mother was her Maranucci acoustic guitar. It is a rich burgundy colour. My father bought it for her in Singapore when I was ten years old.  She played it for a short time.

It sat quietly in the back of her cupboard for a long time. 

I had guitar lessons when I was about 12 years old.  I loved that guitar. However  it was not long before my interests turned to horse-riding. Then when I got my first camera,  I became passionately  obsessed with photography. 

That guitar sat in my cupboard for many years. 

30  years later, each of my three sons took turns at learning to play that guitar in their pre- teen years. This was trickier for two of them as they are left-handed and the guitar is strung for right handed playing. 

They became teenagers – and back the guitar went into the cupboard. 

Nearly 60 years from the day my father bought it for my mother, that beautiful guitar has been passed on again. This time to my ten year old granddaughter who seems to share several of my passions. She is left handed but is learning to play it right handed.  She is also keen on horses – what ten year old girl isn’t? 

Her current ‘thing’ is taking photos so my little Panasonic Lumix has  been passed on to her. She has also received my old phone so now most afternoons during her 30 minute  allocated ‘screen time’ she texts me and we chat about our shared passions.

I love how my passions are being passed on. I enjoy remembering the history of the guitar and observing how she is trying out so many of my interests. 

I wonder which she will become the most passionate about? And what other passions she will find to pursue. 

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’.\https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/09/01/september-writing-prompts