Category Archives: New Zealand

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ silent, velvet footed

There had to be cats, there always are

In silence, I contemplate the presence of cats at the Nativity.  There had to be cats, still small voices of calm.

And, quite possibly,  there were fleas, too. 🙂

THE CAT’S CAROL
(Sister Letitia)
Tune: Once In Royal David’s City

Come you cats of every colour
Kittens, too, of every size
See, the Lord who made the tiger
Lowly in a manger lies.
Praise him all his little tigers
Let your joyful purring rise.

Siamese and stately Persian
Homely black and Tabby gay,
Leave your cushions, leave your roof tops
Call a truce with mice today.
Swift and silent, velvet footed
Hasten now down Bethlehem way.

See, he smiles to see you coming
Mary welcomes you within.
Joseph with a friendly finger
Gently strokes your furry chin.
Ox and ass are there beside you
Sheep and camel peering in.
All creation sings his praises
Voices, music, sharps and flats
Join the chorus, cats and kittens
Praise him, just by being cats.

 

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Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~breaking the silence

Absorbed, in its world, one frog

 

Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water —
A deep resonance.

Matsuo Bashô: Frog Haiku translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa 

I fear I may be drowning us all in silence, so I will take a break until Monday.  Until then

 “Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.”

Silence ~an Advent Quest ~merry and bright

Said one silly chook to the other,” Well, I did warn you that your bed of roses ideas would sink us.”

laughter in silence, silence in laughter

THEN
Daddy fell into the pond!

And everyone’s face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
‘Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He’s crawling out of the duckweed.’
Click!

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,

Daddy Fell Into the Pond by Alfred Noyes

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ let it be

Late afternoon, lily of the Incas, heavenly bamboo, Nana’s jardinière, memories

facing west, twilight on its way

‘The night is for stillness.
…….

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.’

Evening Prayer 

from © A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa 1989 p.185

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ a voice that is still

First Fruits, blackcurrants, my father’s favourite

Blackcurrants, my father’s favourite, the harvest begins

 

“But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!”
(The flower photos underneath my plate of blackcurrants were taken by my friend and photographer, David Dobbs.)

Dinner with Nana

I have said this before and I am happy to say it again. I am in awe of people who can remember their past, particularly their childhood past,  in high-definition clarity.  I see and hear  my past through  flickering scenes of snowy noise, crackling static, fragmented pixels, and faulty signals. Occasionally, I am able to focus on what seems to be a clear, defined, image, yet when I try to hold it, to still it in a frame ,  this is what happens: a  split screen of alternative possibilities.

Frame One:  Dinner with Nana

peas boil, custard bakes,
leg of lamb on stove top rests,
roasted juices, pink.
“Bloody meat,” sighs Nana Maud.
we grin, dinner not done yet.

Frame Two: Dinner with Nana

The peas are boiling, the custard bakes,
gravy, silky and peppery, simmers and plops.
Nana, pinny-wrapped, and double-bent, is busy’
with sharp-pronged fork, testing the mid-day roast.

She pierces the bubbles of crisp skin
and pearlescent fat, to the bone inside,
and watches, as the juices spurt,
clear and sweet.

“It’s done, ” she declaims, satisfied.
“It’s well-cooked,” she adds, decisive,
“I don’t like bloody mutton.”
No part of sheep would defy that tone.

We grin, we tease, in mock horror.
“Nana! Bloody? Did you say bloody?”
Intent on serving dinner hot,
blind to childish nonsense, she huffs,
“No, no, of course, I didn’t, but
I don’t like bloody meat.”

We giggle quietly into plates, bountiful
with succulent tenderness.
We eat, pudding next,
replete, content,
knowing, even then, we would remember
the day we pretended Nana swore.

Which of these pictures , I wonder, is closest to the reality of that day? Sadly, I can no longer say for sure. The editorial hand of time has steadily and stealthily, spliced and resectioned memories which once seemed solid; immutable.

But this much I do know:

Both recollections are faithful to the essence of my grandmother, and the good food, love, and security which were produced in copious quantities in her little, sunny, kitchen.

She was  a hard-working person; always busy around the home. She was independent, despite being almost blind in one eye. She was  capable, she was small, and she was strong. Chopping kindling wood for her fire and coal range were daily tasks she undertook into an advanced age.

Her cooking was excellent.  Every kind of food she gave me, be it boiled chicken, bottled apricot, roast dinner, or pikelet , I remember with pleasure.

And, as for those roasts ~ Nana preferred mutton and hogget to lamb but, whatever cut it was, she didn’t like it rare, or to say it plainly, bloody.  On that fact, my memory is 100% clear.

 

(This post is in memory of  Nana Maud who died 42 years ago, today, the first day of spring.)

In Memory of Nana