Friday, November 30

The Woodsmokey Days, - & Nights!

I suppose it is because it is so hot here, I keep thinking about the wonderful days I spent with my BFJ, (Best Friend J,) when we first went to the Southern City to live, on the way to our 'further travels'.

As it happened our 'Further Travels ', did not really eventuate. I think we both fell under the spell of that Southern City, & I know, even though we both fell in love with our future husbands, that was not the magic involved in our initial love affair with the beautiful Southern City, that is Christchurch.

It was, in those early days, of the 60s, a beautiful city. It was the beginning of 'The Rest of Our Lives'.
We had completed a season Apple picking in the Orchards of Neslon, & the wider district. We had journeyed to Christchurch for an Easter Long weekend. We had loved what we initially saw of the city.

When our Apple adventures ended we journeyed, along with many other 'Seasonal Workers' to Christchurch, which was the mecca, in those days, for the seasonal workers, at the end of the fruit Season.

The scramble was on for jobs, accomodation, & mostly survival, in a winter that seemed to be particularly harsh, to those of us from Northern climes, & no doubt, even harsher to the Aussie population among us!

The city itself had a magic which had nothing to do with the laconic & mysterious young local men we met.

There was the breathtakingly beautiful river, which wound it's way through the center of the city. The majestic seeming Cathedral Square, with the huge Cathedral dominating, & all the scurry & hurry occurring beneath it's awesome presence.

We remained in touch with friends made during our Apple Picking era. We made new friends. We obtained jobs we felt no obligation to, & 'fooled' our way through those jobs, as we explored the wonders of the Southern City.

We found 'Hovel' accomodation, moved 'up', to slightly better living quarters. We met our future husbands. But that fact was unknown to us at first meetings. Gom hates this fact, but he called upon me every night for a week before I went out with him!

Still, the magic of the city enthralled us, BFJ & I, & we sampled some of the pubs, & the Inner city bars, filled with fakes & posers, as they were. We met true friends, we met our futures.

This is a view of the Alps from the Sign of the Takahe. A scene of some terror for my BFJ. She was taken there, one dark night, & told the story of the girls who had murdered the mother of one of the teenage girls!*She began to believe this might be her last night of life. Luckily, she was returned to safety.
A view of the Avon River, which is truly one of the beauties of this Southern City. The Autumn magic is hard to picture, but oh, the wonderful cold nights, filled with woodsmoke. I guess that is no more, but in our young days it was a part of it all.
The wonderful leaves that fell in great curdles in the Park. The wonderful amber colours, the crisp crunch of them, as we dashed, running madly though the great swatches of them, curling & crisp, though dying, but so wondrous to behold, & enjoy!!

Those wondrous avenues of golden colour. The lengthening shadows, as we raced & laughed among the fallen glory of Summer passed.
As the Winter descended, we experienced the bitterness of real cold. Icey frosts, of depths we had no previous knowledge of!! The grass of Lattimer Square, white like snow. As we ran, black-stocking clad, with many layers on the top, to our job in the city. Arriving with clattering teeth, & chilled legs, arms, faces aglow with frost!!
Coffee!! Coffee to kick start the days. Dressed Pies* for lunch! Warming laughter to tide us through the days, knowing the chill woodsmokey evenings awaited. Filled with erreverant laughter.
Joys to recall, in old age 'poverty'.
*That is a true story, & a movie was made of the book, but I have forgotten the title.
**Those Pies were covered with a blanket of mashed potato, with crushed peas, on top, then a layer of beetroot!! The first time we encountered them, we were horrified! But hunger got the better of us, in the end. We used to call them 'Stuffed Pies' - they were!! in the worst way.
Tony Orlando, Halfway To Paradise.


bluemountainsmary said...

beautiful descriptions - so evocative.

I am going to go to Christchurch.

Ragged Roses said...

Was the film "Heavenly Creatures'? - a great film. I love reading about your travels and adventures, it's funny when we think about the jobs we use to do when we were younger and the friendships forged. Love the photos, take care
Kim x

joyce said...

Now you have made me add New Zealand to my long list of places I still want to visit before I get too old to travel.

Ian Lidster said...

What a delightful travelogue which made me want to visit. Also it sounds very reminiscent of here. When my grandfather settled here, after a number of years in NZ, he decided to stay in BC because it was so reminiscent.

smilnsigh said...

The smell of woodsmoke. Nothing like it!!!!


Joni said...

What beautiful scenery! I think your travels as a young girl sound so much fun.

teodo said...

I like reading about your memories it seems that you are where you remember you have been.

Every place is nice ..........but the one where you have more connections and memories is magic!

ciao ciao

meggie said...

Hi All, Because Christchurch is on plains, at the foot of the Cashmere hills, the woodsmoke hung heavy in the air. I believe open fires are banned in new houses now, but in those days there was really a pollution problem, as sea breezes did not always carry away the smoke.
It is a very different city now, but still very pretty, with the Avon running through it, & the beautiful old buildings preserved.
Kim, I think that may have been the name of the film, -my brother has reminded me the book was called Obsession.

Anonymous said...

Your description of Christchurch is spot on. I walked along that path by the Avon River this time last year.

velcro said...

what a beautiful city, and I love the photo of the avenue of trees in autumn.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Beautiful post Meggie! I love your vivid description as well as the interesting pictures.
I think I saw that movie, but haven't read the book..

Mike said...

I sure do miss the days of "adventure." Seems like they have been replaced with days of "misadventure."

Isabelle said...

What lovely pictures. That's so not how I imagine the other side of the world to look. Blogging is really educational.

Thimbleanna said...

I've enjoyed catching up on your blog Meggie! Love the pictures -- makes me want to visit as I love to travel. Glad to see that you didn't zip up SG's doodle LOL. And as for teenagers -- one day they're cute preteens and before you know it, the body snatchers have come and there's some stranger living in their body!

ancient one said...

Hey Meggie, loved this post and the pictures. Can't say I love wood smoke now. My sinuses really give me a fit if we burn the leaves we rake.

Right now there is absolutely no burning premitted since we are so dry. So I haven't had to suffer this year.

Finally got back and caught up on your blogs again!!

Marja said...

Now I feel dam proud to live in Christchurch. You described it so poetic and beautiful. Exactly as it is. You must stil love it. Can't blame you.
I have seen the movy of the girls It was on NZ TV a while back. Amazing story

Josie said...

Meggie, that's so beautiful. I have a good friend who lived in New Zealand for ten years, and he loved it thre. He talks about it all the time. My brother loved it there as well.

A couple of years ago there were some New Zealand Maori dancers who came to Vancouver. What is it called - haka? Omigosh, I could watch them for hours!

Tanya Brown said...

Beautiful photos, beautiful memories. I hope I can visit New Zealand someday.

Lucy said...

It looks and sounds so lovely; Old World but with the grandeur and scale of NZ.