This is my last day on the farm. We leave for Nelson tomorrow, where I will stay for two nights before saying goodbye to Erin for a while and heading north to Auckland. Between now and December 14 I will be in Nelson, Wellington, Auckland and Sydney before flying to Tasmania for nine days and flying back to Sydney for a night, and then off to Fiji where I will reunite with Erin for the last four days of this two and a half month adventure.
Already I can feel the quickened pace, so different from this quiet morning, sitting at the kitchen table with oatmeal and tea, listening to the tui birds and looking out the window at the tall grass that engulfs the woodshed and the punga and Tasmanian blackwood trees that rise up behind it. Rose, Gary and the kids are still asleep. Erin is upstairs packing. At this time tomorrow we will already be gone.
Perceptions of time change based on experiences. When Erin and I first arrived in New Zealand we though a month to travel would be enough to see what we wanted. In reality we found ourselves cutting out several places from our list because we wanted our pace to be more of a breeze than a whirlwind. I don’t regret it at all; even though we didn’t make it to Kaikoura, Dunedin, Milford Sound or the Fjordlands, we got to experience more of the towns and cities we did stay in. When we arrived in Karamea, population 650, we thought these 3 1/2 weeks would move at a turtle’s pace. The isolation on Rose and Gary’s farm, 20 km away from Market Cross (Karamea’s main streets), contrasts from the easy access to busses, cafes and people we were used to. Even in Punakaiki, which felt like a private retreat, we could walk to the bus stop in thirty minutes. But I forgot how fast turtles can swim, and now here I am on the last day and I wonder how it came to an end so quickly. I know now that by the time I get to Fiji it will feel as though I simply blinked my eyes and arrived.
Having a home to live in these past 3 1/2 weeks has been invaluable. More than learning about starting an orchard, permaculture design, rock wall construction, companion planting and soil health, I have been to a birthday party and poetry night; met friends and neighbors at the potluck and outdoor movie night Rose and Gary hosted; hiked part of the Heaphy and Wangapeka tracks, and through the bush with Gary, Curnin and Erin; walked along the beach and gotten caught in waves, found sea glass and pua shells; and I have become part of a family, if only for a short while.
My travels thus far have taught me many things, but perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about myself is how much I value knowing a place. I guess it makes sense that constant movement would make me appreciate being settled, but I didn’t expect it. As I come to the final leg of my journey, I am feeling ready to be home for Christmas. I will not rush through these next three weeks–on the contrary, I will soak them in and stretch in each moment–but when the time comes to board the plane back to the States, I will take my last breath of summer in New Zealand and look forward to my first breath of Winter in Vermont.