I thought September would be a slowish month, a good month to write a travel journal. Wrong! And October doesn’t look any too leisurely, either. At this moment, I’d rather fold those clothes in the dryer than focus on a blog post. This is me engaged in an exercise called “Showing Up.” Don’t expect to be riveted.
Flaxmere Library was my fifth stop on this tour. Flaxmere is a poor town. It’s pretty depressing. Not squalid. Just drab. Cheap and beige. The library is housed in a community center with great recreational facilities, and on the day I visited there, all the facilities were being utilized — the pool, the library, the rock climbing wall. I don’t know if it works like the YMCA, where you buy a membership, or if it’s free.
Grownups stayed with their kids for the library program. About half and half Maori / Pakeha. I begin most of my origami programs with a little spiel about where Origami originates. People are usually pretty evenly divided between crediting China or Japan. I weigh in and say that since China had invented paper hundreds of years before anybody else, I personally think origami started there. But…the Japanese named it. “And when you name something,” I say, “it’s yours; you own it in a special way.” To a person, every Maori mom looked straight at me and nodded. “And when you give it a story, it’s really yours.” Again, every one of them nodded. And then I tell the legend of the 1000 cranes, we go into storytelling and silliness and paperfolding…and again the Maori mothers, without exception, joined their children on the floor and learned what the kids were learning.
Flaxmere was the first of three programs this day. The second was Hastings, where the library and museum share a lawn, and there on the lawn was this intense, in your face sculpture exhibit of Maori carvings. I don’t know if it was a permanent installation or if it was just for the season of Matariki. Matariki is the name of the constellation the Japanese named my car (Subaru) after, the constellation I grew up calling the Seven Little Sisters, even though I could only ever see six of them, a.k.a. Pleiades. The museum walls were decorated with origami stars that visitors had been folding for the past few days.
From Hastings we traveled 25 minutes to Havelock North, full of galleries and boutiques. While I was doing my programs, Jack was out walking up and down main streets of all these towns. He’s talking about writing a little travel guide — 60-minute Walking Tours of Country Towns.
After Havelock North, we headed south to Otane, where our friends Peter and Mary live … with their children, children-in-law, grandchildren (“the grandies,”) several dozen sheep, a couple dozen cows, a score of chickens, Nick the Pony and one or two of his buddies, and … I’m forgetting something. Oh yeah. The dogs.