** I want to credit Molly, of The Molly Bawn Chronicles for challenging me to do this. I must admit, it was a journey!
I would like to throw this challenge out to anyone who reads this, to do the same. Don't forget to let us know if you take up the challenge.
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.
I come from a country with another race of people, who claim they owned the land, first. It seemed to me, growing up among these people, we got along together well enough. They often lived lives seemingly different in some aspects, with differing tastes in food, but I always felt we respected each others ways. Now it is claimed we didn't & don't. I aways understood the Maori to be respectful of nature's ways, & to be contemptuous of white men saying they 'owned' the land. The Maori I remember from my childhood were more of the opinion that no man could own the land. The land owned itself. Now that is all changed.
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 ancestors were Scottish, English, Irish. Mostly blue of eye, & fair of skin. My father's family came from very early Scottish & English settlers to the South Island of New Zealand. A large Scottish family of 11 girls, one of whom was my Great Great Grandmother, who married an English settler's son. In fact 4 of those Scottish girls, married the 4 English settler's sons. The Scottish father was said to have stated he wished there were more sons, to marry more of his girls!
I was told by my mother, that I was a 'strange' child. I was also told I was 'awkward'. I was 'clumsy'. My mother took me to ballet lessons- to try to teach me coordination, & some 'grace' I suppose. How I loathed those lessons! I couldn't wait to be done with them. I was lefthanded, so did things a different way to the other women in the family. My brother is also left handed, & so is a cousin. It was a sadness, to our Grandmother.
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.
Her love was hot Chicken Noodle soup after school on wet cold days. It was the comfort of scrambled eggs, when I was ill with Tonsilitis. Of comfort food to fill our hungry bellies in the evenings. Of wonderful jams, jellies, preserved fruit, all made with love & care. Of her smiling face, & warm hugs when we came home from school weary or sad. Of knitted jumpers, pullovers, little doll's clothes for me. Her love of family was foremost. She loved all of her grandchildren dearly.
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.
I dearly loved my Uncles, my mother's 3 brothers, my father's 2 brothers too. We were lucky we knew them. My father's 2 sisters were fiercely loving too, so I had wonderful Aunts.
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.
They are from my new home.
Simon & Garfunkel, Homeward Bound.
On re reading this, it seems my mother is not prominent in a positive way. She had a sad life, & went out to work, to support herself & us, & it was mostly our Grandmother who was the one at home, when we got home from school. My mother was small, neat, sad, & quietly loving. She was a shy little Cancer the Crab. The description fitted her very well. She was a beautiful Mum to me, & I did love her dearly, in spite of how this reads.