Matariki and my mother’s birthday

NASA Matariki 2012 small_0Today is a special day. It is my mother’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Mum! My mother and my father live in my sister’s home in warm, tropical Queensland.  But my mother’s birthplace is just few kilometres east of my present home in Christchurch.  It was raining ( I think) on the day she was born, and it is raining on this day, too. It seems that  some things, weather wise, have not changed  in 91 years 🙂

Something else that has changed little in all my mother’s  decades, and for decades before her time, and which will change little in decades to come, is Matariki, or the star cluster Pleiades.  In New Zealand, in traditional Maori culture, when Matariki appears before dawn in late May or early June, it is a signal that heralds the New Year, in accordance with the Maori lunar calendar. This year, Matariki was on 10 June.  When my mother was born, Matariki  apparently disappeared from the night sky around  19th -21st May and reappeared in the first new month ( Pipiri ) of the year, about 17th -19th June.  So, by this reckoning, I can say that she is a New Year baby,  born under the ‘little eyes’ or ‘the eyes of god’  ; two of the interpretations of the meaning of Matariki.

Despite all the clear instructions on how to find Matariki in our New Zealand skies,  I have completely failed to do so. When I look at the night sky, I am immediately lost.  However, there is one bit of star-gazing that I can do, and have done, for as long as I can remember, and that is to notice the first star of the evening.  And with that noticing comes a little verse that has been sung over the centuries by many a child and, undoubtedly, many a mother too.

“Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.”

I have wished many a wish on that first star of the evening sky, though what those wishes were I no longer remember. Perhaps they came true, perhaps they did not.

One wish that my mother had, a very long time ago was to have her travel diary published. She kept a comprehensive diary ,and many letters, of her early married life in Fiji but publishers were not interested then, and most likely still wouldn’t be.

However, with the POWER of WordPress at my finger tips, I am going to make my mother’s wish come true, on her birthday, and  publish a small extract from my her first rough copy manuscript !!!!

“It was our first winter at home (Christchurch)  after almost two years in a warmer climate, and we were feeling the cold dreadfully. Dealing with gas and electricity rationing and a fuel shortage did nothing to relieve our feelings, or the cold! On one particularly cold, wet, bleak afternoon I sat shivering before a small fire, nursing aching chilblains, and thinking gloomily of better days. Beside me on a desk lay a bundle of letters, written to the home folks, while we were away, and on an impulse I picked one up and began to read. Gradually the gloom dispersed and I was back again in the warm, happy islands of Fiji. Thoughts flitted through my head as bright as the hibiscus flowers and the myriad gay little birds of that tropical land where we had been so happy.”  September 1951

A Happy Birthday and  a Happy Matariki to my mother for all seasons, and for all time. Have a lovely day in warm sunshine. Is it fun to have your work published? 🙂
For the star gazers; a link to the heavens 🙂  (http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/matariki-maori-new-year) ( http://www.astronomynz.org.nz/maori-astronomy/taatai-arorangi-maori-astronomy-2.html)
The first image is apparently one from NASA and seems to be used by many of the websites I have looked at whilst researching Matariki.
© silkannthreades
Advertisements

74 thoughts on “Matariki and my mother’s birthday

  1. Pingback: Welcome, stars of the New Year | silkannthreades

  2. Snapfairy

    Aww Galianta, I agree with Cindy and Pleisbilongtumi. Maybe something you can do in the near future. : ) ! It’s not too late to make that dream of hers come true ~ you can still do it : ) Through you, she will experience that satisfaction of knowing she has shared a part of her life with us. Or maybe a separate blog or section…just about her? hmmm….when you are ready! Many blessings and belated birthday to your mom! Beautiful post!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you for your kind encouragement. Winter is a good time for new indoor projects so perhaps I need to give the idea more thought whilst the cold days are upon us.

      Reply
  3. melodylowes

    Happy late and wet birthday to your Mum! How fun, to publish some of her words in her honour. I know next to nothing about Fiji, or the constellations in the southern hemisphere, so it is fun to learn some new things today! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Marylin Warner

    Happy Birthday to your mother!
    She definitely was born “under the eyes of God” to be blessed with you as her daughter. Please print more of her letters ~ wonderful possibilities!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you so much for your sweet words. Yes, there are wonderful possibilities. My head spins sometimes with all the possibilities our new technologies offer us.

      Reply
  5. cindy knoke

    Please publish more of your mother’s travel diary and photos. It is compelling, fascinating, reading. I would love to read it. It will also make your mother very happy. I published one post with my mom’ photos and narratives about one of her around the world sabbaticals and she was deeply honored. I felt to good to have done it while she is still here. She is soon to be 87.
    Wonderful post. More please~

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Cindy, you are so persuasive! I am sure mother’s travel diary would appeal to the traveler in you. I can see you reading it and saying “I wish I had been there on that trip in 1949”! And the photos you would have taken 🙂

      Reply
  6. Sheryl

    Happy birthday to your Mum! I enjoyed the excerpt from her manuscript. She must have been very adventuresome when she was young. And, you were adorable when you were a child.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you.My mother was quite adventurous for that era. And she remained a keen traveller until only a few years ago. The photo of me as a babe makes me laugh. It is cute.

      Reply
  7. lensandpensbysally

    Family history is a treasure trove of humanity’s journey. I hope that you are able to take the steps necessary to publish your mother’s manuscript. I am working on such a story about a great, great uncle who left an autobiography. It’s hard work, a few years of research and more. But each family’s contribution is a piece of our total legacy. I know that your mother is so grateful to have a piece of her efforts read.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you for your encouragement. Putting family history, or stories, together is hard work, especially finding the photos that go with the stories.

      Reply
  8. ordinarygood

    Your post has given me much pause for thought. Firstly congratulations to your Mum for her birthday! People’s stories are so interesting and yet we think we are very ordinary and no one would want to know about our humble lives. But they offer so much in times to come and offer glimpses in to the person that we have not seen before.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      You are so right. As your blog illustrates, the ordinary and the humble are what make our lives extraordinary. In our modern day culture of celebrity etc we forget sometimes about the richness of the lives of every day people.

      Reply
  9. Virginia Duran

    Happy birthday to your mother! What an amazing thing to do. It is pretty impressive that at her age she uses Skype by the way. You could create a blog for her, and post her memories. I am sure it will be nice to see all of her words again. When my grandfather reads some of his memories he laughs a lot, he has forgotten most of them it seems. Oh, and didn’t know about Matariki, very interesting!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh yes, I think we all forget some of the things we wrote about so earnestly in our past. And some of things we wrote make us laugh because they seem silly in a modern context. By the way, the photo you asked about…. That is me with my mother.

      Reply
    2. Steve Schwartzman

      I had the same idea: you could create a blog in which each post would be another excerpt from your mother’s writings. Or you could put together an anthology of her writings and make it available as an e-book. You could scan her writings and present passages in her handwriting, or you could transcribe what she wrote, or you could even do both.

      Reply
      1. Gallivanta Post author

        What an excellent idea to scan some of the passages. Goodness I have my work cut out for me if I embark on this project. It would probably need a separate blog because there is a lot of material. Thank you for your suggestions.

        Reply
  10. Mrs. P

    Have a wonderful birthday, Mum! You have raised a beautiful, loving daughter of which I am sure you are very proud. I think this is one of those “great gifts” that every so often happen in ones lifetime.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      What a sweet comment. Thank you. My mother’s mother was a sweetie, so I am told. She died when I was still very young so I don’t remember much about her. But she raised two loving, caring daughters, my mother and my aunt 🙂

      Reply
  11. Forest So Green

    Happy Birthday to your mother! We also said the same words about the first star when we were kids. Before E books, I knew a family that had their mothers stories printed into a book. I know there are many options these days. Be sure to let us know if you do an E book, I would love to read the stories 🙂 Annie

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Wiki told me that Star Light, Star Bright has its origins in America but I wish I knew more about its origins. It is such a lovely verse. An ebook would be a great project. But I need 6 more hours to each day 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      No,my Mum doesn’t have her own blog. She likes reading blogs and she uses skype but other than that she is a pen and paper lady through and through. We have been back to Fiji over the years. Last visit was 2002 I think. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

      Reply
  12. utesmile

    Happy Birthday to your mum, lovely that you can publish a bit of her diary, very interesting. Nice that she reads your blog too! I hope she will have a good and healthy year to come!
    I am not good at star gazing but I love looking up and enjoy the starry sky. I do recognise orion which is in our wintersky. You have different costellations I think on the other side of the world. my son has a telescope and we did see once the milky way on holidays.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am a completely hopeless at identifying stars but, like you, I love looking at them. It sounds like your son has a good understanding of the night sky. Thanks for the birthday greetings. My mother will be wanting to write thank you letters to you all; she is a great letter writer!

      Reply
      1. utesmile

        That is a wonderful skill lost to many young people now. I used to write a lot now with internet I don’t do many. Mind you I wrote yesterday a 4 page letter to my friend in Germany. 🙂

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. It is my understanding that Matariki is a time for story telling so I thought it was a good time to share a yarn about my family roots.

      Reply
  13. Jen Lum

    Beautiful Mandy. Happy Birthday to your Mum from all the Lum family. I have sent the lovely photo of your Mum & you in front of Churchill Park to my parents.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Jen. It’s a great photo (an old slide actually). I can’t believe that the road was all stone like that. It must have been so dusty at times. Love to your folk.

      Reply
  14. Clanmother

    Happy, Happy Birthday to your wonderful mother!!! What a life-affirming post! Is it possible to have more than an excerpt? Your mother is a remarkable writer. I will be back to reread the post – it has been a long day on my side, but couldn’t wait until morning to read your exciting news! My most favourite birthday quote and one that I embraced this year on my birthday was from our deal William Shakespeare!

    “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
    ― William Shakespeare

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That is just the very best of quotes. My mother will love it. I do too. There are 5 or 6 notebooks full of my mother’s story. In time I am sure a few more excerpts will sneak out 🙂 Rest well and give those wrinkles time to weave their magic.

      Reply
      1. Clanmother

        My mom is writing my dad’s story for our family. Every year, at Christmas she gives us all installments. It is coming on 2 years since my father passed and I am finding these memories to be joyful rather than sad. It is as Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.” I so enjoy your posts!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thank you. Your mother has tenacity and determination 🙂 How lovely to receive installments from her each Christmas. A great gift.

  15. Travelling Kiwi

    Happy birthday to your dear mama. I love the photos – is that Churchill Park in the background behind you?

    Reply
  16. Judy Guion

    How fortunate you are to be able to do this for your Mum! Neither my parents nor my grandparents are with me to savor the joy I have in bringing their letters, written so long ago, to life.
    May I say, “Happy Birthday, Mum”.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      My mother will love reading your birthday greetings. She is a big fan of my blog. And, yes, I am incredibly fortunate to be able to do this for my mother. And may I thank you for the inspiration to have the courage to bring the letters to life 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s