We have recently come back from a lovely holiday at the beach. It had been a while since we’d had a holiday away together and about eight years since we’d actually been camping in a tent. Yikes! The time leading up to the holiday got a weeee bit stressful, juggling preparations that I haven’t had to do for a while with harvesting and preserving food crops, helping out other people and trying to deal with the increasing dryness of our garden in the height of summer. Oh, and a family wedding the day before. Note to self – do not go away on holiday the day after a wedding. But once we were at our destination and I got some rest, it was all worth it.
On the morning we were setting off, Simba showed us that he was quite capable of running the homestead while we were away by catching a rat and bringing it inside to play with. I told him, “Good boy!”… after I had chased him and his dead present out the door. Nala just meowed in a needy way. Despite Simba’s capabilities in some areas, we had a house-sitter to look after the other things, like the chickens. Paris’ broodiness was broken several days before we went away so that was helpful too.
Once we were on the road we were entertained by silly songs and stories from The Little Fulla, while I pondered whether it was really wise of me to have taught him the proper words to Jingle Bells. I suppose it was better than listening to the wrong words over and over again. I’m still trying to teach him the correct words to Skillet’s song Legendary. Instead of “To the top, to the top, ain’t never gonna stop” he sings, “To the tub, to the tub, never gonna stop…” on and on. He turned a cranking hard rock song into a bath song. Argh! Along the way we stopped at an obscure little beach for a bite to eat and a pit stop, which yielded the reward of some wild blackberries to munch on.
Our tent site was second in prestige only to The Parents’ tent site next to us, which The Little Sister’s family shared with them. Trees are an especially wonderful thing when you’re camping in summer. A short walk to the sea is also wonderful. Being on the edge of the bush, we were frequently visited by wekas, a native ground-dwelling bird. They are savvy things and not afraid to gobble food from right under your nose.
We enjoyed walks on the beach, swims in the sea, collecting and eating tuatuas (shellfish), making epic things in the sand, kayaking and family time.
But my favourite thing was when The Husband, The Little Fulla and I went to visit a forest in Opotiki: Hukutaia Domain. This native forest is the result of many decades of plant propagation and management by some dedicated people. It was like stepping into a different world. An old world. Nikau palms (Rhopalostylis sapida), puriri trees (Vitex lucens) and tawa trees (Beilschmiedia tawa) rose all around us, standing tall and unhindered by weeds. Whoever looks after this forest is doing an exceptional job of dealing with weeds. Many of the trees are big and old, the oldest being a historic sacred Maori burial tree, estimated to be 2000 years old. That is very old for our little country.
There were rata vines entwined around some of the massive trees that were themselves massive for a vine, being around 15cm (6 in) in diameter. There were many species of fern splattered all over the place on the ground and up trees or as trees. I was quite gleeful to see all these ferns and a number of coprosmas and so many other species, then parataniwha (Elatostema rugosum), one of my favourite native shrubs, which I haven’t yet planted here due to the lack of shade and moisture that it requires…
The further I walked the more incredible I found this forest. The Husband just about lost me to the forest. I was ready to set up tent in it. After I came out I declared, “Right, who needs lawn when you can plant a forest?” I may not exactly be getting rid of all our lawn now, but I am determined to plant more trees and shrubs. We are such a lawn-loving country, but I say it’s time to bring the forests back!
In the evenings I managed to finish knitting a baby hat that I started a few weeks ago and then start another one. Still working on a homesteading goal whilst on holiday. Check! I had a bit of time to think about things too, particularly planting and propagating-related things. Ah, there’s nothing like a good forest for some inspiration.