As we approach the summer solstice and the longest day in the southern hemisphere, I suddenly find myself catapulted into the shortest day here in San Francisco. I am recently arrived after having had a peaceful and enjoyable 30-hour transit which took me from Christchurch NZ, to Brisbane OZ, to Los Angeles and then San Francisco. I’m here to spend time with my Guidi family and celebrate the thrill of Christmas through the eyes of my nieces, Sienna (5) and Haylie (2). Bruce always reminds me how much I love Christmas so no better way to enjoy it then through the giggles and excitement of the littlies. Auntie Santa Claus is coming to town!
But, I’ve left Bruce, Nina, and the long days behind for a few weeks. With sunrise by 5:30 am and sunset not until 9 pm, we’ve finally been enjoying the warmer weather of summer and the crazy growth of the garden that comes with it.
The last few months have sped by after what seemed like a nice and leisurely winter. But does time ever slow down? There’s always more chores, projects, and socializing to be had than possible to achieve in a 24 hour day. One thing that has fallen by the wayside has been my desire to blog and record the adventures of our lives – I just haven’t wanted to sit in front of a computer any more than necessary when there’s much to be enjoyed in the physical world (and that does include my penchant for zen weeding!)
However, layovers in airports are a good time to review and ponder all that has been accomplished in the last 90 days:
* Bruce and I attended two local silent-meditation retreats in October and November. The first was a 3 night/2 day retreat and the other was a 5 night/4 day retreat. I wasn’t sure how I would cope with sitting in silence for upwards of eight or nine hours a day, for multiple days, but I absolutely LOVED it. I am a true introvert — I love spending time with myself and I am not one to faff about on the couch at home, so it’s best to have ‘enforced’ downtime by doing something meaningful and productive and continue working on oneself through meditation and self-inquiry. Focusing on breathing techniques and just noting what comes into the mind, we spent days ‘sitting’ and just being present. It is really delightful to luxuriate in the ‘now’ and shed pretty much all feelings of responsibility – there’s nothing to do but sit, walk, eat, and be mindful. Delicious food is served to you three times a day, we retreated in gorgeous countryside settings, and listened each night to dharma talks given by the facilitators. I had a couple of good breakthroughs and aha moments – realizing a few areas where continued behavioral patterns keep finding a sneaky way to repeat themselves.
* Bruce jet-set of to London and the US for three weeks to attend another Jill Purce mandala workshop week – this time the focus was on the Chod (the practice of cutting all clingings to the ego). I think this was Bruce’s 6th time doing a workshop with Jill and he continues to benefit greatly from her style of teaching.
* After being bee-less for five years, Bruce manifested not one but two swarms of bees and we now have a flourishing top bar hive on the property. When Bruce created a vision board for himself a few months back listing his priorities and goals, BEES were the focal point of his diagram. With the global devastation of the honey bee which is so important to our world ecology, we all should be doing what we can to help the honey bee thrive. Bruce is taking his role as bee steward very seriously and has recently upgraded into a professional apiarist suit, acquired a few more bee-keeping books, and is looking at holistic ways to care for the bees and help them fend off the killer varoa mite which has decimated hives around the world. With any luck, if the bees can store up enough food this summer and autumn, they should be able to make it through winter and they may have some honey to share with us by next year. Meanwhile, we’re planting loads of bee attracting flowers and keeping plants in flower for as long as possible for them.
* I’ve found myself immersed in some new projects since stepping down as Kiwiburn Treasurer and Executive Committee member in June. Despite my best efforts at having more unstructured free time, the universe had other plans for me. Being Treasurer for our Wainui residents association for almost three years and now living in Wainui full-time (versus sharing time at our Christchurch house) , I’ve been making new local friends and getting more firmly immersed in our community. In early winter a few of us ladies decided we should make use of our Community Hall by getting together weekly for what I like to call ‘wellness’ classes – we do yoga, meditation, and dance, talk about nutrition, and any other interesting topic that comes to mind. Once a month my friend Lucy comes from Christchurch to teach a NIA dance class and on other weeks, I’ve become the facilitator of the class by sharing my vast collection of yoga, dance and meditation instructional videos and leading conversations about whatever comes to mind. There’s a core of six to ten of us that meet regularly and I’ve spread my love of fermented drinks – kefir and kombucha, and foraged weeds – stinging nettle and chickweed, to the group. I’m also trying to get a market stall going as our community swells during the summer months. Our garden is often producing in abundance and we sometimes have the ability to sell off excess produce. I have a co-conspirator whom I regularly walk and talk with and we’ve fondly dubbed ourselves the “White Witches of Wainui”. I’m proud to be what I hope is perceived as an inspiration to my community. The local paper, The Akaroa Mail, also did an article on me and Lucy. My five seconds of fame!
* The short-term furnished rental earthquake renovation market has slackened off in Christhurch and in August we found ourselves with no leads for new tenants. Rather than keep the house empty, we decided to bring in some flatmates and generate a bit of income while keeping a room for ourselves for the odd periods we come to the city. The flatmates basically came to us through the meditation group circles we’re in and within weeks we found two peer-aged-meditating-artist flatmates who’ve happily been ensconced in the house since September. All has been going really well and I’m hoping they’ll each stay for a long time!
* My mother-in-law Linda popped over for work (she’s an international dog show judge) and spent a week with us where we enjoyed LOTS of good restaurants and cuisines.
* We said goodbye to two dear friends of ours, Tobi and Alex, American-expats whom we bonded with when we all arrived in 2005/06. Sadly they decided it was time to return to the States and it was a bit of a several month-long emotional ride and chance for self-exploration when they made the decision to return. Upon much evaluation, Bruce and I have become clearer that while we do miss friends and family, we still think we’re better off and much happier living the country life-style that we’ve worked hard to achieve. There’s more fun and interesting homesteading projects to manifest – sacred healing rooms, ferro cement buildings, tree-felling, expanding gardens – the ideas never end. But we’re mindful not to chase after the perfect dream and instead try to delight and be content with where we are at today, now.
* Oh and then there’s the garden. What can I say about it except that is has been flourishing and thriving and keeps me busy day and night. I can spend full days, every day, working on the property – there are plenty of areas that still need attention and the maintenance of the grounds can sometimes be all consuming, but Bruce is great at helping me to slow down and smell the roses!
So I’m here now, in San Francisco, for a few weeks. Long nights, Christmas, my nieces, family and friends — ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!