I grew from a child into not-so-much-of-a-child on Hollister Lane. Our family of Mum, Dad the two girls and one to be on the way shortly, moved from the edge of a kiwifruit orchard to this paddock with a hillock into a house Nana found in a house-yard in the Waikato. She was transported over the Kaimai ranges in two halves on two trucks and transplanted onto Hollister’s hillock with six acres of fairly naked land circling her, sporadically adorned with the odd towering black pine tree.
There we all grew.
My memories of being a child in that home, on that land, are of Mum and Dad donating all the year’s Saturdays and Sundays to the colours and scents of our natural world. Dad mowed the undulating grounds, and seemed to persistently have the red masport mower upside down in the driveway cursing its failing mechanism. Mum wore her sun-bleached ‘Holiday T’ cotton singlets, bra-less as she weeded the shapes of flower beds that lit up the green grasses. On Mother’s Day, and other days where one of us had ‘disappointed’ her, we’d gather and give lopsided posies of lavender, rose, freesia, queen-anne’s lace, candy tuft and granny-bonnet.
Amidst those days of being a shorter younger person when the years travelled a long way from the beginning of the school year to Christmas school holidays, Mum and I went for a drive into the Welcome Bay Hills. We arrived at a small house with a triangle roof belonging to an also small lady. Next to the house was parked a house truck, which held much intrigue. The lady reminded me a little, of a woolly-valley lady. She had aerated greying hair, big kind eyes, soft skin with a gentle voice housed by a soft smile.
The aerated-haired-woolly-valley-lady had a vision. An enchanting garden for all to visit. We toured the trees and valleys. The image of her dream to tend aisles of fresh blooming lavender and rosemary to drape her bed-linen over, wrapped its tendrils around my young memory.
Left behind with primary school is that girl and now two decades later, mother of one Clara, wife to one Jeremy George and woman of the world, I look for trees and valleys to show my young family.
One conversation, Sarah Williams of Kowhai Yoga, encourages me to drive south from Mt Maunganui until I get to Te Puke Quarry Road, and to wind my way quite a ways up the hillside until I reach the Looking Glass Garden. She recommends I take Clara in the backpack rather than buggy as there are a lot of stairs. She says, it’s very reasonable at only $5 per adult and $2.50 per child.
One post-Rena-Sunday searching for something uplifting to do other than walking our beloved beach, I convince my husband to accompany Clara and I south to meet trees and valleys. We meet a new friend there too, with her…buggy (oh dear) and two young offspring Isla and Cooper. I ponder on the drive…I wonder, could this be the garden with the woolly-valley lady, the house-truck and her big round eyes? Will we find pathways of lavender and rosemary hiding under fresh cotton pillowslips?
Backpacked and peanut-butter sandwiched up, we walk down the steep driveway to a small lady with a grey ponytail, a leather bum-bag, with big glasses over big eyes. I scan the panorama for a house-truck and a triangle roofed house, but instead find a resounding view down onto the moana, and Motiti sitting beyond the left-over plains of Papamoa.
I ask the small lady, did she have a house-truck once upon a time? No. I remember her talking that long-away-day of her son. I tell her my memories. I confess I thought it would be coincidental or too complete if she were the lady of the garden of my childhood drive into the Welcome Bay Hills with my Mum. She still doesn’t recollect a house-truck. The lady in my story wanted rows of lavender and rosemary to hang her linen on. Yes that’s me, she says with a soft smile and gentle voice. Remarkable. She natters away about the Nepalese community gathering in the garden as their cartwheeling music calls up the valley.
Hills. Valleys. Roosters. Bantems. Chicks. Bluebells amass. Stone sculptures. Miniature houses from fairy-tales. Lime coloured trees kissing burnt leaves. Mosses. Birds. Humpty Dumpty on a wall with Isla. Laughter jumping up and down the paths framed in green and the fresh smell of summer-to-be.
Enraptured, I thank all that is. I too, thank a woolly-valley lady and her man – that they can give such a natural and long-coming gift to us all. Under the canopy I am encouraged to pursue wild & grace’s vision, the gift I love to give, the path which may take two decades to realise. As I collect these words for this post I return to ‘The Art of Non-Conformity’ which was referred to in Musings from the Middle. Chris Guillebeau states in the Interlude on page 82 that “You need the answers to the two most important questions in the universe. What do you really want to get out of life? How can you help others in a way that no one else can?” The colours, smells and sounds of the Looking Glass Garden echo this call, to soar and to help others on their path of flight and bliss also.