Sunday, 16 January 2011

Wet Feet


Last Sunday (a very windy day in coastal Dunedin, but as we suspected it would be, a warm, still day out on the Taieri) we visited Sinclair Wetlands here in Otago - a protected site situated between Waihola and Milton (in the country behind Lake Waihola on hinterland bordering the Taieri Plains).


A great spot; full of swampy ground and dragonflies, frogs, water fowl; it is land preserved pretty much in its original state. Its well-kept grassy paths provide easy access through flax-y swampland.


I was reminded of times I spent with my sister and brother as young children (I am talking aged 4, 5, 6 years old) down in the gully at Orepuki, exploring a creek full of cutty-grass and chick-weed, looking for frogs and spotting dragonflies, bees and spider nests (which we would cruelly puncture in order to see the small baby spiders run in a stream of black rain); and locating duck nests ...


We never attended kindergarten, or any pre-school educational institute, but our childhood was certainly rich in what nature had to teach us. We would leave our mother behind in the house doing whatever mothers did in the home, while we freely roamed paddocks, creeks, long-grass verges, fallen logs, burnt gorse ... it was as I remember it, an idyllic early childhood.


During our visit last Sunday (which unlike today - a week later - was a bright, sunny day) I reveled in being able at one point to take off my sandals and walk barefoot through slimy puddles on the track; mud oozing between my toes. It has been quite some time since I have had that pleasure.


Here is a poem from my book 'made for weather' which describes the memories I have of exploring the gully below our childhood home in Orepuki.

wild mint and cutty grass


In the gully
we see the impaled skeleton of a cat

spread-eagled in a thorny bush
and recognise it
as our pet that had died in the summer

its body tossed by our father
into blackberry autumn has undressed

to reveal its bones and grimace
surfacing
from under threadbare fur.

When I tell my sister the fragrant green
under our feet is wild mint, she cries.

She is afraid of mint that might growl
or suddenly leap. But it is the cutty grass,
its neat accuracy

we must be wary of. And
this sluggish bog, reluctant to help,

that sucks and slurps at our gumboots
as, overhead, an unseen skylark
wrestles with the sky.

9 comments:

Catherine said...

That photo of the dragon fly is fantastic! I doubt if that is really the original state of the land though, there seem to be far too many introduced species for that. (Is there land in its original state anywhere in New zealand, do you think?)

McDinzie said...

sounds a far nicer sunday than today...

Nice piccie of that dragonfly...well captured

jtwebster books said...

It looks like you had a great day. I've never been to the Sinclair Wetlands, I'm now thinking of making a trip.

Loved the poem. Kids today just don't get such an opportunity to enjoy nature.

Penelope said...

I discovered the wetlands there a couple of summers ago — and made a wonderful, meandering exploration of what used to be the . . . well, not 'bread basket', more like 'soup bowl' for the local tribe.

Lovely evocative poem, too.

John B said...

Enjoyed reading this and the pics and especially the poem.

kj said...

oh my friend, how great it is to be here this morning. your photos and memories are both comforting and soulful. and then your poem! gosh you are such a fine poet, kay.

my very favorite here is that dragonfly. how steady your hand must have been to capture that.

you have such a reverence, kay, and i feel it and remember it for myself just being here now.


kj

Ann said...

Kia kaha

came via Agnes site, via Doreen's. Read your Kia kaha.

I used these words to conclude my book I have just written. Agnes shares something very precious with me. My loved one, (baby) died in my arms.

Glad to meet another Kiwi.

Ann said...

Kia kaha

came via Agnes site, via Doreen's. Read your Kia kaha.

I used these words to conclude my book I have just written. Agnes shares something very precious with me. My loved one, (baby) died in my arms.

Glad to meet another Kiwi.

Dona Bogart said...

Beautiful wetlands. I love the pictures and the memories. I will remember best your sisters fear of the wild mint.

Harbour

Harbour
'how this all harbours light'