Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

266: riverside walk

 Another lovely spring day. I wore a summer skirt and top all day, and never lived to regret it! On the way home I took a walk in the sunshine down by the riverside...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

265: beautiful afternoon

This afternoon we had the best spring weather yet. I took this photo down by the riverside on my way home.  I was just wishing I had my new walking sandles with me to take a walk along there...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

263: cheerful greeting

These yellow daisies grow like weeds, and I keep having to yank them out- but oh how I love seeing the sunshine on their petals when I arrive home- such a cheerful greeting...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Downtown Springtime

I had a short walk downtown today, and spring was in the air. 

 Spring blossoms in Coleman Mall

 Bikes and a planter box on the Square near the Library

 that lovely light green you see only as spring begins

 a few addditional street signs for the Rugby World Cup

And three extra flags on the top of Square Edge- for Argentina, Romania and Georgia,
who will all play here during the Rugby World Cup

Thursday, September 15, 2011

258: a treasure

My niece made this 'Australian Aboriginal doll' when she was still at high school, and gave it to me as a gift. She is 26 now, and this still reminds me of her, with great affection.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

257: magnolia

I know I said I was going to try and take photos with some different themes in the remaining part of the year, but when you walk into school in the morning, and the morning sunlight is on the magnolia like this.... there isn't really any option but to take a photo!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Flowers out of Rock

I wrote this paragraph some weeks ago as I reflected on my reasons for walking again- (and it is posted below in Moments of pilgrimage).

The memory of seeing a flower bursting forth out of rock
and the celebration it wrought in my heart
seems like a reason to walk again
as if somehow this healing is important for more than just me.
The day in my mind about which I wrote these lines was a special day, a healing day- just after I had taken a rest day in Estaing to recuperate a little from blisters. I knew renewed joy as I walked more freely in the welcome sunshine, past spring flowers, until suddenly I saw some flowers growing so improbably out of rock- and it seemed like a miracle.
This weekend I did my first 20km 'training walk' and I knew a similar joy. I was retracing a road near town that I had walked along many times in 2007-8 as I trained for the Camino.  And suddenly I saw some spring clematis spiralling down in front of a rocky road cutting. It was a sight of beauty, another wee miracle to be thankful for. A sight of beauty to hold in the memory of the heart and soul.

Native clematis in springtime on Kahuterawa Rd, near Palmerston North
And I think these flowers are kind of like an arrow- the joy they bring shows that walking in the countryside is the right thing for me to do...

Moments of Pilgrimage

I wrote this a few weeks ago when I was thinking about walking again. It is a very private piece of writing really- but I have been inspired to share it after reading this remarkable piece by Johnnie Walker about his own reflections on the purpose for his pilgrimage(s) -"Not close enough".

Moments of pilgrimage often came as a surprise.

In Assisi I climbed the hill above the town with spring flowers all around 
and it seemed as if St Francis might walk around the corner any moment 
to greet me, 
and that the thunderstorm with drenching rain
that sent me scurrying down the hill to find shelter
was maybe his little joke.

Cycling in the Loire I kept ‘discovering’ St Martin sharing his cloak,
and in an almost forgotten 12th century church with thick stone walls,
where I sought solace from the summer afternoon heatwave,
was an exquisite altar plaque
that depicted the people carrying his body from the village where he died,
across rural fields to the city of Tours for his funeral.
A much beloved leader from so long ago,
when stories of Christ were far more recently told.

In Lourdes I felt my distance from the church,
and Mary organised a meeting with two Kiwis -
a shared meal when I was in need of company and conversation-
that was really a kind of communion.

While in Cahors I stumbled on the Camino route by accident –
over a medieval pilgrim bridge  
a climb up a steep cliff, a stunning view as a reward
then a walk through fields of red poppies in the spring countryside.
That night I met a ‘modern’ saint - a woman who had walked for three weeks
from Le-Puy-en-Velay, and whose face radiated a deep joy.
The memory of her face and her joy lit my first inklings
 that I too might walk the Camino…

 In Ireland I met two saints firmly bedded in the faith of my ancestors.
St Kevin saw Glendalough in all weathers
but I had the good fortune to walk its hills in glorious sunshine.
Croagh Patrick brought harsh weather even in midsummer
and taught me about penitence learned in Irish hardship.

And so eventually I came to receive a pilgrim blessing in Le Puy
and set off myself along pilgrim routes to Santiago
knowing the company of those ancient pilgrims.
And in due course, I too arrived in Santiago,
with lessons learned in the daily rhythms of walking
lessons of simplicity, sharing, hospitality, thankfulness, and talking to God -
but I never walked with St Jacques Santiago St James
though he was very real for some.
This saint, for me was just a relic
of political power struggles in centuries past.
I never expected to meet him out walking in the fields…

Now, I wonder if I might walk some of the other routes towards Santiago
a different act though familiar

I think about the Frenchman Francis whom I met on my walk
perhaps for me a model pilgrim-
who noticed others, remembered them, gave wise advice
and prayed in the silence each day

But if I think about walking like him,
I am speaking in ‘shoulds’ instead of surprises
and surely everyday life
is the place to practise the mindfulness of others I learned from Francis?

My inklings now are more about walking and rhythm
and being outdoors for weeks in places where pilgrims walked centuries ago…
The memory of seeing a flower bursting forth out of rock
and the celebration it wrought in my heart
seems like a reason to walk again
as if somehow this healing is important for more than just me.

But can I ever be a ‘proper pilgrim’ on the route of St Jacques
who has never ‘spoken’ to me like St Francis or St Martin
and seems like a political warrior?

Maybe since millions have walked this way, I can too, despite my doubts.

There was a wound seared in soul
the moment my father died and was abruptly gone
I can’t forgive God
a trust was broken -a distance can’t be overcome

Yet somehow when there is pain in the feet that walk so far
My cross makes sense
and needs no other bridge
Pilgrimage lets me talk to this God even lets me be held
Those moments where God was absent in my grief
are cried for and walked through in the outdoors
and the centre of me understands the grief of some others.
Maybe that is enough reason for me to walk.
Maybe that makes me a pilgrim.

Or maybe it is time I just left that grief behind and walked
because our bodies were made to walk.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Out 'training'

I was looking forward to this weekend and my planned 20km walk, up one of my old 'training' roads, Kahuterawa. I left home early, and was rewarded with the sight of a spectacular sunrise. I hadn't gone far walking when I heard a rooster crowing, and I was instantly reminded of walking with Lyne and Denis one Camino morning in 2008 as we left Molinaseca, when there was a chorus of roosters from either side of the road.

There were many signs of spring as I walked- see my Nomad blog for more photos- and I remembered how much happiness it brought me seeing the seasons change as I walked in 2007/8- both training for, and walking on, the Camino. Once I reached the higher parts of the walk today, the river was my companion- sometimes I was high above it, and sometimes low down near it. But always I could hear it flowing. And there was plenty of birdsong in the bush. My feet were sore by the time I had finished 20km, but I enjoyed being in the countryside so much....

Kahuterawa Rd- springtime

 I have begun 'training' for a couple of Chemins in France next year... and today took a 20km walk up my old training haunt- Kahuterawa Rd. I had walked the first 4km last weekend, so mostly walked swiftly up this part of the route, without taking photo breaks- but I couldn't possibly pass by without taking a photo of this handsome rooster. His crowing was apparent from well down the road.

Once you pass beyond the Green's Rd intersection, things become more isolated and 'wild' looking, and the river keeps you company as you walk.

It was calm when I started out, and so I was able to take a photo of some young pine cones: the past two weekends it has been too windy and they were moving too quickly for a close-up...

This shot is taken from the bridge at the top end of Kahuterawa Rd, where the Sledge Track starts, and where this bridge leads to Burton's Track. It marked about 10km of walking, and I had a 10km return trip ahead of me. I sat at the picnic tables and had 'lunch' at about 10am (!) then rewarded myself with a chocolate treat, before heading back down the road.

Drizzle started as I left, and a kind elderly man stopped to offer me a lift. I think I know who he was- a man who has done a lot of volunteer work to open up the tracks in this area for people's recreation. But I didn't want a lift- I am likely to encounter far heavier springtime rain on the route from Cluny next year, and I was 'training'. The man understood. I love the sense of 'mystery' in the hills when their tops are draped in cloud like this.

 I was excited to see some clematis growing against a rocky outcrop on the roadside where I could get a close view of it. (Mostly it is higher up in the trees.) I was reminded of all the spring flowers I saw in 2008 when I walked south from Le-Puy-en-Velay. Somehow, the northern spring seems not at all far away.

 This is a view approaching the Green's Rd intersection from the uphill end of Kahuterawa Rd: it's not so often I reach it from this direction, and the gnarly old macrocarpa stand out from here.

 One of the things I loved last time when I walked along this road many times to 'train' was that I saw the changing of the seasons- from spring to summer to the beginnings of autumn (when I left NZ to go and walk in the French spring...) My heart already is singing with the thought of the changes I will see in the countryside, and I was glad to see so very many obvious signs of spring. There were only glimpses of sunshine this morning, but the light brought these tiny little leaflets to life.

And the lambs- they always announce 'spring'!

253: Clematis

For my overseas readers, the white New Zealand clematis is a special jewel of springtime here. Typically, you might catch a glimpse of it high up in some trees when you are out somewhere in the bush. The past couple of weekends I have seen bits of it, mostly high up or fairly distant, as I have been walking along Kahuterawa Rd, 'training' for next year's long walks in France. But today I saw some close-up, spilling down a rocky roadside bank. The conditions appear to be rather harsh for anything to grow, but there it is, looking so beautiful.

It reminded me of a special sight in April 2008 when I was walking in France. I had taken a 'rest day' on Day 11 of my Chemin, as several days of walking with saturated feet had led to some Large Blisters. I felt like a bit of a 'failure' needing to do this, but the next day dawned fine and sunny, and the route for walking was beautiful. This blessed day, I saw some flowers that seemed to come forth out of rock. Today, I was reminded of that memory as I looked at the clematis...

Town and Country

Some photos to share.... first lot are from last weekend's frosty morning walk up Kahuterawa Rd- and second lot are of the Palmy Clocktower at night. (Click to get larger versions.)

I don't know what it is about this particular landscape- but I always love it when I round the corner and see those hills in the distance, and usually some animals in the foreground by this shed.

 I was amazed I managed to capture this spiderweb. The early morning sun was behind it.

 Looks kinda cute the way these two are facing me- but the reality is they were staring at me making sure I wasn't a threat.

Always love the colours of the sky behind this letterbox, contrasted with the colours of the soil, and its pattern of erosion. It's like finding 'old friends' walking up this road again.

And now for some more night-time Clocktower photos. No explanation needed!

Monday, September 05, 2011

248: new socks

New socks and liners ready for the Chemin next April. So soft and fluffy... a shame to use them really- would make a good ornament! They are Bridgedales like last time- I am a firm believer in good socks and liners for blister-prevention. And since my last socks/liners were still whole and entire at the end of 1500km+ last time, that is all the reason I need to invest in some new Bridgedales.....

Sunday, September 04, 2011

247: ready for guests

It's been a busy weekend with a 21st celebration (Go Joe!) and visitors from out of town. Here is a selection at a friend's house, ready for people to have drinks of tea, hot chocolate, water etc...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

246: frosty lamb

Headed out for a walk in the countryside this Saturday morning. Frost was quite thick on the ground and my fingers were tingling in the cold for the first hour or so, making me wish I had brought my woollen gloves with me. This lamb already had its own woollen coat...

Friday, September 02, 2011

245: afternoon shadows

 There are some interesting shadows late in the afternoons at present...