Monday, 25 May 2015

Local Eco-touring: Nature Walk

Having recently begun a job-share position at work, I now work one week on and have one week off.  What that means is that I have a whole week every 2 weeks, in which to work in my backyard supermarket (growing our food), getting chunks of work done in what would have translated to a month of Saturdays!!  Yay!  It also means I am not under so much pressure to perform every weekend, and together, with Mike, can explore our Wonderland of tracks, nature and fun things to do in our area!!  Double yay!
Beauty Abounds
Last weekend we went for a walk on a briskly cool, sunny day up to our local Hot Springs Road mountain track.  The designated walks cater to the less adventurous (the likes of us) with a 20 minute walk and the comfortably adventurous, with a walk of 2 1/2 hrs.  We chose the lesser version, strolled leisurely along, so the 20 minute walk was more an hour and a half's worth, as we stopped often to admire, photograph and share things along the way.  There is a commercial Hot pools and camp ground facility located on the road, halfway up to the tracks.  The views are spectacular, over the Bay of Plenty (Tauranga harbour) and the air is fresh and pure!  No inhaling insidious fumes down in the Spray of Plenty (agrochemicals).

Magnificent Kauri trees

Well maintained tracks make for easy walking.
The kauri trees that grow along the track are magnificent and majestic, but signs warn that they are under threat from fungal disease and cautions trampers to clean their footwear before starting along the track at the cleaning station located at the entrance.  Kauri trees grow straight up, up, up toward the blue skies and lose their side branches as they grow bigger.  Truly breath-taking!

Kauri tree
Towering Nikau and Ponga ferns reaching for the clear blue skies

Kawakawa bush
It seems wherever we go, we tend to find kawakawa in the shade of other trees.  Kawakawa makes an awesome tea.  In fact, a friend recently shared some information on this panacea of native medicine or Rongoa Maori.  Some time back I had bought a pack of dried kawakawa leaves for my husband to make himself tea out of.  It took a while to get him into kawakawa tea but recently he has been enjoying it so we tend to forage and pick 5-6 leaves when we spot a bush handy to a walking track.  I also bought a kawakawa seedling to plant in my garden not too long ago (still too small to harvest yet) and so I was thrilled when Mike read the information on the tea and became animated about it.  Apparently, it cures just about everything under the sun!!  And then some!

Dappled sun on a leaf-strewn path
Ahh, the outbreath of wonderment and awe!  To shirk off the confusion and drudgery of everyday life and the things/possessions we surround ourselves with in our homes.  To tramp in the Great Outdoors.  How fine to be in Nature.  Papatuanuku.  Mother Earth.  And to experience all her splendors.  I do think we breathed much deeper in that forest!  And I think we came away with a sense of being empowered by all that we saw, felt and experienced.  Medicine for the soul.  A Healing.  On an infinitesimal scale.  I think I need less time in front of a screen and more time in nature, to slow my life down even more.

Looking out over the Beautiful Bay of Plenty
At times like this, I stop and reflect on how beautiful this place is.  And how lucky we are to be living here.  So close to nature.  So close to infinite beauty.  I remember driving through the town of Katikati 15 or so years ago, and my husband asking if I could ever live in a place like this.  And my shudder of revulsion - "In a one-horse town like this???? Never!"

The last laugh is on me!  We did end up in that one horse town.  And I have fallen in love.  Sometimes I look up at the mountains surrounding our town and I marvel at their splendor.  Parts of the mountain, and certainly, different vantage points remind me of the mountains of Africa.  Of Fraanschoek in the Cape.  But the green-ness of it all is not replicated in Africa.  Here, the greens and blues can hurt your eyes.  Their intensity is sometimes blindingly vivid and piercing.
A glimpse of farmland.  Verdant green.

Light and shadow....
Making shadows again.

A view into the Underwater World.

An upside down world.... which way is up?  Which way down?
My foray into the bush brings to mind a poem which hung behind our toilet door when I was a child: 

Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann
(Desiderata is a Latin word translating roughly to things desired, wanted or needed; a requisite)
"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."


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