Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ANZAC Part Two

ANZAC Day is remembered in Australia and New Zealand alike with ANZAC services, The Last Post, and, of course, ANZAC Biscuits (which I made yesterday especially for today). And in both countries, it is often a time for family time together. Today DH and I had the immense joy of spending time with half our family. Half, because Son#1 and his family and Son#3 and his wife were unable to join us.

A manageable drive and we were able to explore and walk part of the Sledge Track. I have a feeling that we will be returning ...


And if we do return, some of us may even do more than bushwalk and actually tramp the longer and more difficult tracks. I know that The Most Adorable Granddaughter#5 is keen!

ANZAC Part One

The rest of the world may not know much about us, may confuse us (how Kiwis hate that!), may not be able to locate us on a map, or may pronounce place names incorrectly, or, worse still, may think we are one and the same. And while we do differ and are distinct, there are several things that Australia and New Zealand have in common but nothing seems to unite our two countries more than ANZAC Day. In both countries it is a statutory holiday. In both countries it is marked by a memorial service (more often than not a Dawn Service). In both countries the dead are remembered - those that gave their all for their country and its freedom - and the living servicemen and servicewomen honoured.

Removed as we are from the realities of war by time and distance, it is often easy to forget the sacrifice paid by those who have gone before. Only recently was I made aware of the price my father-in-law paid. I knew about his injury and the fact that he was on an army operating table on his twenty-first birthday; I knew that he named his eldest son after his best friend who fell at his side; I knew that he chose not to talk about his experiences until much later in life; but the nightmares, the mental impact, I had not considered, at least as far as he was concerned. And when I do consider, I can't help but wonder how many others nursed severe unseen wounds, mental and emotional. For some, they may have thought the friends they left behind in unmarked graves had it easier.




I don't know and I was never brave enough to ask those questions of my father-in-law but I am grateful. Grateful for his willingness to go to war, to put his life on hold, and even on the line if need be, to protect a way of life that we often take for granted.

Which is why we can never forget. Had they not gone and fought, our history for the last one hundred years may have been very, very different.

Therefore ...

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

(From Laurence Binyon's poem, For the Fallen.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

MIA: Southern Lights

Last night DH and I drove out to the beach in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Southern Aurora. Usually its display is not seen this far north - and certainly not of the calibre of display on show this weekend - but with sky gazers seeing it in Auckland on Saturday night, we thought it was worth a try.

Alas, this is all we saw ...

(For those not in the know, these are the lights of town looking back from the river mouth.)

The Southern Aurora appears to be the lesser known sibling to the Northern Aurora. Just as spectacular, apparently, but seen less often. Perhaps because there's less open land devoid of lights from which to view it. Or perhaps because we have the erroneous idea that only the Northern Lights are worth chasing.

I had hoped for a glimpse of the Southern Lights when DH and I holidayed down south last year, even though it was 'out of season'. It was not to be.

Last night Wellingtonians were rewarded with a spectacular display. I'm almost tempted to drive south tonight just to see if we, too, can catch a glimpse.

However, we are not without hope. There is the chance that the display will be repeated in 25-28 days and this time I won't be giving up and going home before midnight. Not now that I know that an hour either side of midnight is the best time for viewing. (Why didn't I learn this before last night? At least we stayed longer than anyone else but we still left too early - that's if there was anything to see from our particular vantage point.)

And if this should prove futile? Well perhaps we can plan another trip down south. Between March and September. Or perhaps we can console ourselves with the thought that we think we may have seen the lights in the past when travelling late at night ... we just didn't realise at the time what the green or pink glow in the sky signified.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Sweetness

Despite the rain ... despite the storm that was predicted and didn't eventuate ... despite disrupted holiday plans for some ... we had an Easter filled with sweetness ...

The Most Adorable Granddaughters#4 and #5 asked to visit, and, not realising they'd be awake at 5.30 am both days, we readily agreed. A local event saw us hunting for painted rocks in exchange for Easter eggs. This was harder than it first seemed until The Most Adorable Granddaughter#5 discovered it was much easier to find rocks if one followed the man who was hiding them!

Then it was off for a Sausage Sizzle in the rain followed by face painting. When the rain clouds gathered overhead a second time we decided it was time to leave!

Our pastor's message on Sunday was particularly moving and inspiring ... the Roman guards who handed us three nails apiece as we entered the door was an object lesson we'll never forget (even if we were anxious all through church that a Most Adorable Granddaughter or two could end up being poked with one or more) ... and again we appreciated the opportunity to remember all that Christ did for us on the cross.

On Easter Monday, empty nesters again, DH and I enjoyed a walk together, avoiding most of the mud (unlike Son#4 who brought half of it home from camp with him), spooking some wildlife, managing to stay dry, and taking in some amazing views. And practically all in our own backyard! Next time we're taking some Most Adorable Granddaughters with us.

(By the way, I have recently been informed that I do not 'tramp'. I have used the word interchangeably with 'hike' but according to some of the males in my family, tramping is a more difficult level to that in which I normally participate. [Really? Some of what I've done has not exactly been a walk in the park!] Apparently I only 'walk'. Therefore I will try to remember in future to use the term 'bushwalking' - even if I'm not technically walking in bush - rather than tramping.)