Well, I’ve finally achieved my childhood dream. When I was little, my mom and dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My reply was ready, I wanted to be ‘nothing’ like mom. Fortunately, my parents took this with great humor and have goaded me about it for years. When we settled down here in NZ in February and I started the frantic job of setting up the household from scratch, trying to do it economically, keeping up the homeschooling for the girls, trying to plug into a new community, getting the new garden under control and sorting out life generally, they reminded me that I had achieved my childhood dream of doing nothing. Life goal… check.
We’ve moved into a cute little cottage in the town of Renwick which boasts two tractor dealerships, two pubs, a small grocery store, and a great little cafe. We are only a few minutes from the huge metropolis (~30k people) of Blenheim. Our little place has a spacious backyard with fruit trees and even a little potting shed. I’ve discovered that I have had some pent-up gardening urges and have been planting seeds, propagating, pruning, weeding, and transplanting like crazy. The girls have found the spacious kitchen to be a strong invitation for baking and have been making all sorts of delicious creations, while I’ve discovered the joys of preserving the garden yields. I’m also putting my skills as a fermentor to use.
Cameron has been in the trenches. It has been the fall harvest season here, and Cameron has been head down and pulling hard to bring in the fruit. With the labor situation as it is even the girls and I have gone in several times to spend the day picking grapes. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation here in NZ with lots of competition from other fruit crops and a very tight labor situation made more challenging by COVID. To add to Cameron’s stress level he was promoted to Vineyard Manager when the previous manager gave notice a week after he started. I think the previous VM felt that he could finally leave with Cameron in place to take over the reins. Happily, he stayed to mentor Cameron through the thick of harvest. The ownership and management realize what they have in Cameron; a dedicated, hard-working, caring, knowledgable, experienced, talented individual (I’m not biased… he really is all those things and more). But it is a steep learning curve with the move from the winery to vineyard operations and everything is new. Cameron is now in charge of a flock of sheep, a small herd of cows, ducks, chickens, and a huge garden that supplies the biodynamic preparations. Let’s not forget also the vineyard team along with the 52 hectares of grapes at Seresin Estate. The girls and I are doing all we can to help support him in his new role; feeding him well, giving him loads of love, and getting him to bed early.
While Cameron is gone for most of the daylight hours, the girls and I are thoroughly enjoying life on land. Isa has started taking riding lessons and has found two orchestras to join locally. The joy of playing music with others continues to appeal to her and she is often practicing several hours a day in between her school lessons. Adelaide, inspired by a friend back in the US, asked if she could help with the backstage element of a production of Les Miserables that was going to be staged soon. She was brought on as a follow spot operator. She has to be harnessed in and sits on a tiny platform 40ft in the air while lighting up the actors. The author in her loves to observe 150 humans running around without them realizing they are being studied. As I was standing next to her, I was also roped in and am now helping to manage ‘prompt side’ set changes. The production is shockingly professional for such a small town with a set that would satisfy any city dweller and main characters with powerful voices and real skill in the theatrical arts. We’ve just started the string of performances and the reviews are rave. Even Isa was roped in to help with the over 40 tiny microphones that need to be put on, taken off, and adjusted during the show. It has been really energizing to be back in a theater and we’ve met tons of lovely members of the community. The run lasts a few weeks and then we’ll finally be home in the evenings again! No doubt we’ll stay involved with the theater community here.
With all the demands of life on land, Cameron and I have decided it is most wise to sell Banyan. (ARGH!) I know… It’s a gut-wrenching decision, but the Malborough Sounds are not the best place for an ocean-going sailing vessel with all its Katabatic winds. Also, when Cameron does have a weekend free, it feels a bit of a burden to then go and work on the ever needy boat project list. Getting Banyan out to open water from where she lives now requires a high tide and several hours of motoring. You are committing to an overnight journey each time as the tides wait for no man and the long entrance to Havelock Marina is shallow. Banyan is built for the ocean and she deserves to be doing what she is built for and maintained to that very high standard. Happily, she is very ready for another voyage with her new rig and will hopefully find a couple or family with big dreams who recognizes her value as a solid, well-tested, well-maintained ocean-going vessel. I’ll do a dedicated Boat Sale post very soon – feel free to forward it on to any families who might want to explore the Pacific Islands!