Last Wednesday brought about 30cm of fluffy white snow to Toi Toi Manawa. The most snow that Andy’s ever seen in New Zealand. The only snow I can remember ever seeing in June.
We became a bit more isolated than usual as our rather long driveway was impassable by our little car. Schools were closed and the village was full of people unable to make the drive into work. And there was happiness all around! We had a really nice walk through the village, chatting with our neighbours and meeting some new ones. It was perfect snowman-making snow too, and so Andy rolled up his first big snowball and built his first snow pig.
The moon was near full the night after the snowfall and so we had a beautiful moonlit walk around the property. I was amazed at how incredibly bright it really was outside. We could see the hills far in the distance and watch our shadows as we made our way through the snow. Between a brief power outage and running out of gas, it became a very good time for us to be creative and return to cooking and heating our water on the woodstove.
The days that followed were quiet and cozy. It wasn’t until Saturday that we made our first journey out of Whitecliffs and into Darfield. The fully snow-covered Southern Alps are in full view from Darfield now and have become extra prominent with their new blanket on.
Venturing even further afield, we had the opportunity on Sunday to do a little bit of work with some of the residents of Sumner – a suburb of Christchurch. There is an up-and-coming community garden project there and we’ve been in touch with the coordinator while he brainstorms creative ways for them to organize. We had our first chance to visit the garden site itself on Sunday – what a beautiful spot! After trekking up a hill (at a 45 degree angle) we found a big patch of shrub that is the site in question. It’ll be a pretty major endeavor to get it garden-ready, but there’s some good enthusiasm in this group and we’re looking forward to seeing what becomes of it.
Now, after that brief break with civilization last week, we have all of our services back in action and have started this week off with renewed energy. Last week was a very good reminder of the joy of an unexpected day off and the benefits of being well prepared with the essentials. It was a great comfort knowing that we have enough food stored away here and enough firewood to last us many, many weeks!
As we, and some of our neighbours, dealt with frozen pipes, it was also a real reminder of the difference that context makes. The same weather event in Petawawa wouldn’t have yielded the same results for folks, that’s for sure! In their relative absence, it was very easy to appreciate sand and salt trucks, snowplows and ice scrapers, insulated pipes (and buildings!) and all of the other regular accessories of a Canadian winter. I finally tracked down a pair of mittens today. Next step will be finding something other than a kitchen flipper to scrape the ice off of our car in the mornings!
Tomorrow, Andy is heading off to a grazing seminar with John King, a local educator in holistic management. It should be a very good chance for him to do a bit of learning that will be very relevant to his role as Land Manager at Toi Toi Manawa.
Meanwhile, I’ll be working on the development of our program plan, our schedule of events for July, and our new website and Facebook page. It feels good to be busy, and it feels even better to be busy doing things as worthwhile and enjoyable as this. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to fix myself a warm drink and settle down for some evening card playing with Andy while the girls serenade us with their guitar playing. What a life!