** I want to credit Molly, of The Molly Bawn Chronicles for challenging me to do this. I must admit, it was a journey!
I am from young parents, who married in haste, under the dark shadow of World War 2. My mother always said she was reluctant to marry my father. He was about to be sent overseas, & was desperate to marry my mother in the face of all opposition. He simply loved her, with all his being. I am the result of their hasty honeymoon, before he was shipped off overseas, never to return in a sense. He was certainly not the same young man, who had gone to do his patriotic duty. My mother was changed forever, also. I was 3 when he returned, & first met me. I was a hostile little girl, who did not want this strange man in her mother's bed, or sharing their lives.
I was born in a country of Ferns, & beautiful Native Bush. Of strong wild rivers, & deep silent lakes. Of craggy mountains, with snow on the peaks. Wild gorges, with even wilder rocky rivers carving out the land, over time. Hill country, which had been felled, cleared of it's beautiful vegetation, to make way for man's farming. The steep slopes denuded, & bare, the burnt stumps remaining sometimes for years. Their dark, stark shapes were monuments to man's stupidity, it seemed to me, but of course, not in so many words to a child's mind. Later, brought the formulation of those words to fit the thoughts of my childish observations.
We Pakeha (white) girls all fell in love with the big bronzed Maori boys at school. They were excellent at sports, often, & could run & win most of the races. Their laughing brown eyes, their wonderful skin, the natural talent so many of them had, for art works, storytelling. Their wonderful sense of humour. The girls made fearsome Basketball players. They were our neighbours, our classmates, members of our families. Their love of the sea, & fishing, their Hangi method of cooking, in the ground with hot rocks, & leaves & earth to cover & protect the food.
My Grandmother was wonderful. It is her warm approval I remember, in contrast to my mother's seeming disapproval. My Grandmother loved me to the end of her days, & it was a love of unconditional strength & beauty.
There was a shortage of men in my childhood, in some respects. We rarely saw our father. He remarried, & had another family. Paternal Grandfather had died before I was born. Maternal Grandfather died when I was 8 years old. He had been ill for some of those 8 years, & I wonder how he stood having 2 scrapping fractious children thrust into his life, when he should have been able to read, & dream & relax.
Family is where I am from. I remain close to Cousins, Aunts, my one remaining Uncle.
I am from the Land of the Long White Cloud. Aoteoroa.
I feel it is imprinted in my bones, which were formed in that land. I will always belong to that land, in my heart.
Though I have made my home here in Australia, & it lays great claim to my affection, & feels 'known' from my Australian born Grandfather.
Unfortunately these pics of the sky & clouds are not taken in NZ.
Simon & Garfunkel, Homeward Bound.