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New Year Resolutions Imagined as Balloons or Paper Kites

As the wise angel on my shoulder says, there is an off switch. And I use it. More and more often. I cloister and listen to the silence and the birds. I listen to the crickets. The crackling as the tin roof and wooden walls of our house contract in the heat of the sun.

Country girl / city girl downtown

Typical pose – half staunch, half dismissive. One leg stating, I stand here. This is me. The other leg looking like it’s on the way outta there. My expression showing amusement, a questioning gaze; slightly unsure, slightly sceptical.

Maybe all this is indicative of me entering a new year with my usual shaky aplomb.

Looking for doors to open in 2021..Red door in an Oamaru stone building at Totara Estate, near Oamaru

At the beginning of any year, it customary to make new year resolutions. This is an idea that has always appealed to me and not a year goes by that I don’t make some resolves.

As to checking out whether I’ve achieved any of them (or even remembered what they are) well, that is a different story. I balk against the idea of any type of checklist, preferring to imagine that the goals I set are balloons (or paper kites) flying free, tethered by strings or ribbons that I may or may not let go of.

Fence at Totara Estate – a Tohu whenua Landmarks site, so my DOC brother informs me.
‘Sites chosen as Tohu Whenua tell the tales of New Zealand’s past and connect visitors to our unique stories and places. They combine culture and heritage with beautiful natural settings.’

We visited Totara Estate with our daughter in law and granddaughter on one of the post-New Year’s still, sunny days, sandwiched like a sapphire inset between grey metal rain, wind and cloud.

Oamaru stone is remarkable stone for buildings, capturing history and landscape in its pale aspect.
From Wikipedia: ‘Oamaru stone, sometimes called whitestone, is a hard, compact limestone, quarried at Weston, near Oamaru in Otago, New Zealand. Oamaru stone was used on many of the grand public buildings in the towns and cities of the southern South Island, especially after the financial boom caused by the Central Otago goldrush of the 1860s. Initially used primarily in Oamaru itself, it became popular in Dunedin in around 1866, with the University of Otago’s Registry Building being the first major structure in the city to make use of it.’
Totara Estate is well worth taking the time to visit. Previously, on our way north or south and like many others, we have swept by their eye-catching, Oamaru stone gateway situated right beside State Highway 1. Stopping in to take one of their tours, followed by tea and scones, rewarded us a slice of time in Aotearoa’s history.
Lighthouse at Moeraki
Moeraki Boulders

Another visit while holidaying at Kakanui, was a day’s outing down the road a bit to once again visit the Moeraki boulders.

It was special in 2021 to watch our granddaughter scampering ahead of us along the sand, her small form in fluorescent pink shorts weaving in and out of the boulders and between people ambling along taking Instagram photos of family members doing headstands. The boulders didn’t really take her interest so much as the freedom to run along soft, damp sand and to build small sand structures with her father,

There was a flood during our time in Kakanui – one result being debris dumped on the beach from logs etc. that had been swept into mountain rivers, then emptied into the sea at the mouth of the Kakanui River.
Flood-debris scattered beach, Kakanui
Found beach art
Shepherd’s delight, from a Kakanui crib / batch / holiday house window

The sunset above (only three or four days into the new year) could perhaps be seen as a positive symbol of the end of 2020, with all its challenges, grimness and heartbreak. All I can do in this blog is reflect my own journey, without any attempt to sum up the year as it happened, where we are as a country, how we are doing as a country, where we sit on the global scene etc. etc.

Thankfully one of my friends is far more capable of summing up such things than I am and has done a wonderful job of looking at the year of Covid from the perspective of someone who has visited more than one country through the year – go HERE to read Katherine Dolan’s take on 2020.

Back home. Back-lit fern and copper beech.

As the wise angel on my shoulder says, there is an off switch. And I use it. More and more often. I cloister and listen to the silence and the birds. I listen to the crickets. The crackling as the tin roof and wooden walls of our house contract in the heat of the sun. The judder of our fridge’s motor. The mad ticking of the oven clock. The chimes of Aunty Phyllis’s clock marking time. I get in touch with who I am and where I am headed. And what is important to me: love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness.

‘Nothing but blue skies from now on’