The lay of the land

A pair of flippers. Two boxes of fishing tackle. A tap that goes nowhere. A boat. A lake. Scratch that, a pond. Nope, not really. A soggy, shaded depression into which a small stream has been diverted. Yep.

A truck. A Landrover. Two wasp nests. Something old hunching under a ponga, a 1950s-ish shape. A fence made of car bonnets. Four tree houses. Three bath tubs. And four more buildings (yes, dear reader, it is possible to hide entire buildings under blackberry and tobacco weed). An old school bus, at the top of a hill, where there’s no road, in the middle of a paddock. Hundreds of beer bottles. A cast iron bath tub up a creek. It’s whole, it’s beautiful, it’s heavy, but it’s also … y’know … up a creek.

A laden fig tree hiding under jasmine. A nikau grove beneath huge puriri. Trees and plants I can’t yet identify (suggestions welcome). A big kauri near the house. Clearing the old orchard and picking the first apples and blackberries.

Learning to cut loooong kikuya with a weed eater. Finding the water source. Learning to wee in the grass wearing overalls. Learning – by demonstration – of the challenges facing the hero of Haarlem. Finding the septic tank after a day’s digging.

This land has not always been neglected; there has been dedication shown in the past. Dedication, hard work, whose final intention of the work is no longer clear, and, unfortunately, my hard work now is to remove it all. No more falling down buildings, no more boats, trucks, cars. No more unknown projects. No more beer bottles, or at least no more in the grass around the house waiting to be exploded by my weed eater.

Friendly neighbours. Invitations to pop in for a cuppa, for dinner, to the valley’s upcoming fair. Welcomes: to the valley, to the community, people keen to meet and talk and get-to-know. The end of week one. We’re off.

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