Monday, February 11

Reflections on Where I am From..

** 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.


The Sagittarian said...

What a lovely, touching post Meggie! It is a stinking hot day here in dusty Canterbury but the mountains still have their snow on them. We share a similar ancestry too by the way.

molly said...

Well done meg! I knew you'd do a sterling job of it!

molly said...

Well done meg! I knew you'd do a sterling job of it!

ancient one said...

That was nice. I love to hear you remember your childhood. Good Post!!

Jess said...

That was beautiful, Meggie!

Mike said...

Absolutely beautiful post Meggie. We all need to remember "where we came from" from time to time. Thank you for this.

Tanya said...

All the twists and turns and being influenced by people we love and people that pass by and we barely notice. All the places and things we see or hear or taste or feel. All the books we've read or haven't read. The ideas, the opinions. All the anger and love and joy and peace. All the points in time that things come into our lives and make us what we are. And you are lovely.

Mary said...

This is probably not great blog etiquette but Meggie this is one of your best most beautiful posts.

And you have written many good ones!

meggie said...

Sagi, I remember those dusty days in Christchurch. Was the Nor Wester blowing?

Molly, I was a bit reluctant, but I enjoyed it in the end. A good exercise in editing too!

Anne, I am glad you enjoyed it, thankyou.

Jess, I loved yours!

Mike, Take the challenge. You have so many interesting stories to give us!

Tanya, Thankyou. What a nice thing to say.

Mary, thankyou for the compliment. I love reading your posts. Take the Challenge- though I know you did a beautiful tribute to your father.

riseoutofme said...

I'm with bluemountainsmary Meggie.

Beautiful post.

Pauline said...

This was a wonderful, rich journey and so beautifully put. You have a gift of description. I will work on your challenge and let you know when I post it. Thanks, Meggie!

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

Thank you for taking me on your journey. Your gift for conveying the details is amazing.

Anonymous said...


BBC said...

I'm a war baby also, and I think my mother was messing around while 'dad' was overseas. But I'm okay with that, it gave me better genes and I've outlived my sisters.

In my youth I lived basic and often in the country, way out in the country. I loved that that life of living in a sheep wagon, tents, little shacks granddad built.

I'm back to basic again and loving it. And have a great view of the mountains from my place. And I go to them often.

Sheila said...

This was lovely Meggie.
It reads like a story that you curl up with by the fire.
I get a sense of family and love, and happiness, and just enough sadness that the good times are appreciated. I'd like to do mine but I would have to give it lots of thought. I don't think this is an easy project, and you've managed it beautifully.

Rosie said...

Your posts are always moving Meggie. I want to write about my childhood, but it is hard to sum everything up when it is all so complex. I was hoping that things would fall into place and I would understand more as I am now too old to claim not to have grown up yet! I am still waiting...

Mary said...

Meggie - back to say I took the challenge and that writing was indeed one of life's free treats.

thank you!

Thimbleanna said...

Just lovely Meggie! You always amaze me with your ability to recall the details of so long ago! I love this challenge -- it's by far my favorite of all the meme's out there!

quiltmom anna said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely story- My gran was a very significant person in my life- Like you, she loved me unconditionally and I was fortunate to have her for 47 years of my life. When she was suddenly taken from us in an accident 4 years ago - my heart was broken. I still miss her laughter and her love. Relationships in life can be very complicated - you have written a very caring story.
Regards from a Western canadian quilter,

quiltmom anna said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely story- My gran was a very significant person in my life- Like you, she loved me unconditionally and I was fortunate to have her for 47 years of my life. When she was suddenly taken from us in an accident 4 years ago - my heart was broken. I still miss her laughter and her love. Relationships in life can be very complicated - you have written a very caring story.
Regards from a Western canadian quilter,

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is lovely! I have always wanted to see New Zealand, and your shared recollections have made that dream more real and urgent.

You have told so much with so few words and so much love. (And I'm a Cancer the Crab, too, btw.)

nutmeg said...

You had me hanging on every word Meggie - wonderful post. I am bookmarking it for future reference.

Anonymous said...

Meggie , Your memories of growing up are slightly different to mine , and since you are older , should be -- many are the same though -- especially with regard to childhood in NZ .To my regret I can not really remember our father when I was a child as I was too young and when I met him again a lot later in life our time together was too short . I too still love to be with our family " in the bosum" as it were.Actually we have many left handed cousins on that side of the family and I always felt our lefthandedness to be a wonderful thing and no handicap at all! You are right about our Grandmother and her love for us all -- My memories of Mary are a little different to you , perhaps ,as well as her sadness , I can remember her fierce defence of us and her unreserved love too , I also remember her robust and wonderful sense of humour & many happy times .Good memories , Thank you .

Kris said...

I think our mothers often do thankless tasks and it can be east to think of them in the shadows. I'm so glad you can hold onto the knowledge your mum was 'quietly loving' - it's a wonderful thing to say about a mother who went through a lot. I think much the same about mine (though she's not neat!).

fifi said...

that is a lovely post. I like theAoteoroaaustralia white cloud...the one that drifted all the way across the sea, just for you.

What a wonderful glimpse into your world.

I have written one at molly's urging too. Felt churlish not to, but thoughts drifted in all day.

PAT said...

Meggie, we have so much in common, it's amazing. You could be writing my story. I was two when my father came home from WW2, he left before I was born. He and my mother married in haste, I'm sure, much to the dismay of my grandparents. My ancestors are also English Scottish and Irish! Your mother and my mother sound very much alike. However, I was born almost smack dab in the middle of the US! Amazing is the commonality between folks.

One of my first experiences with the Maori people was through the pages of books, loaned to me by a friend who brought them home from England. This was when I was 11 years old.


Pam said...

Very interesting post, Meggie. Hmm. The standard is rather high. Maybe I'll do mine tomorrow...

Q said...

Dear Meggie,
Thank you. I loved reading every word, I want more! I want to know everything! I enjoy the way you tell stories and the story of you is the most beautiful! I am charmed with the Maori. I know nothing about them. I want to learn about their customs and their ways.
This was magical for me. Your childhood and growing up years would be a fabulous novel. What a great movie. I "saw" you as I read. Your Grandmother seems to be the most perfect of Grandmothers. Your Mother worked hard. I bet she was tired.
Thank you very much. Ahhh...
You are lovely.

Lucy said...

Lovely Meggie, I ike it how we piece together more and more about each other from the things we read.

Often having done something like this, it's the things left unsaid, the people little mentioned, which brings us to a new understanding of their importance.

I'll look at the template... perhaps.

Linda G. said...

This is beautiful and beautifully written as well as being very interesting to those who know little to nothing about the land of your birth.

Again, your writing has brought tears to my eyes...Have you thought about your book lately?

Knot Garden said...

Fascinating post, you have such an interesting family. The family members special to us in our childhood stay with us forever. I feel that way about my Granny. As for being labelled "different" as a child, that's not a bad thing!

Linds said...

Absolutely beautiful, Meggie. And I can just sense the love you have for New Zealand in your soul.

The Sagittarian said...

The nor'wester wasn't in full swing but there was a bit of a nudge behind it! We are lucky to have a pool cos the kids get home from school and just go poolside until it cools down enough for them to sleep!! And its hard to keep the wine chilled on those days too.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Meggie, this is lovely. Thank you for sharing some of yourself.

You hail from a place that I would very much like to visit someday.

Marja said...

what a lovely story and a beautiful touching description of NZ. I work with a Maory and he sure has a great sense of humour.
For the rest he is westernised.
I was a clumsy one as well and also sent to ballet were I was used as an example as how not to move. A lefthander ah .....a rightbrainer creative

Fairlie - said...

I've come across several of these "Where I am from" posts at various blogs - all prompted by yours. And I am so enjoying the glimpse they provide into each blogger's life and experiences. They are truly lovely.

I really enjoyed reading yours.

Tanya Brown said...

Apropos of nothing, when I look at your first photo I see a crocodile in the clouds.

You're such a fascinating person, a state which is intensified by the keenness of your observations.

Digitalgran said...

You've done it again Meggie. That was so beautiful.