This is the district where my great-grandmother Alison Butler (nee Riddell / Riddle) was born
Hoping to make some sort of connection, with the area, my aunty and I made a visit to where her grandmother (my great-grandmother) spent the first seven years of her life, before moving to the southern coastal town of Orepuki, where she lived out the rest of her life.
It is a rather nondescript place (plain, comes to mind - maybe because of its flatness). It is a place of quietness. Yet, I sensed a depth in the silence of the land where the straight roads; crossroads, fence-lines and railway line moving through, mark a starting point; a potential spring-board for many futures.
Morton Mains is a place of plains, of straight lines. Even its name hints at a stand being made for measurement.
Even thought the definite is marked out here in the form of road-signs, hedge-rows, gates, straight-as-a-dye flax-plantings and sunken roadside verges; I sensed an eerie indefinite; of possibilities; of a constrained freedom; of something more, just off to the right, or to the left, or straight ahead.
My aunty was particularly impressed with the fact that it was possible to see across the plains right over to the Hokonui Hills, where at the foothills, her hometown of Gore is situated.
X marks the spot ... was this a sign that here is where my great-grandmother once stood looking out to a future horizon?
(It is in fact a marker for European and American tourists to keep to the correct side of the road. In New Zealand, we drive on the left).
My aunty and I travelled on to where our grandmother & great-grandmother also moved on - to a road that leads to the Longwoods - a range of hills forested in native trees; now protected, but not before the bush below its foothills, was turned into rolling pastures
Looking over towards Te Waewae Bay and Foveaux Strait at the back of Orepuki
Another day, different weather, different location and with different people ... a wander around a cemetery ...
A row of toadstools - poisonous.
We have very few edible fungi in New Zealand, but the ones that are edible, the field mushrooms, are very tasty and often free for the picking
From where we were staying, for the first two days, we looked out over a rather rainy camping ground and bay at Moeraki
A visit to nearby Oamaru. This vintage truck is parked in the historical, harbourside precinct of the town of Oamaru, where most of the buildings are made from a type of limestone that has come to be known as Oamaru stone. This area of the town has been slowly transformed into an artisan area, with many of the large store-houses and warehouses converted into art galleries and studios.
At dusk we went to a spot where it was possible to see seals and yellow-eyed penguins settling down for the night. (Failing light meant that the penguin shots didn't turn out).
The rocks were festooned with fauna of the flipper-kind ...
... and the feathered kind ... (in this case, spotted shags)
Yarrow & yellow lichen
An ocean of grass
On our way home, we called into a forested area with caves and rock formations. Looking up from our spot in the sun, where we were watching out for birds, we spotted this grotesque rock.
I have started the year firmly focused on finishing the novel I am in the middle of.
Unlike other years, when from February on, the year skewered off into all sorts of other directions never to right itself again, this year I am committed to keeping it fixed on course.
I shall treat it like a yacht, with myself as the solo yachtie. I will do my best (failing the occasional unexpected squall) to follow the course as charted and in this way, reach my destination - in this case, a finished first draft ready for shaping into readiness for publication.
Rather than set myself the impossible task of working on my book every day, I have worked out a time-table of planned neglect. That is, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, I shall neglect everything else that is not to do with writing my book.
I've called it the T.W.T. Offensive.
On my neglectful days (Tues.Wed.Thurs.) I shall take myself off where no-one can find me - to un-disclosed locations - where I shall immerse myself in the quiet world of my novel and its characters.
By giving myself permission to be neglectful, I can relax into my writing days, knowing anything else that needs to be done; the urgent and the important; the needful and the necessary; can be done on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; four whole days to pay attention - which, by the way, I think is extremely generous of me.