On the 9th of June, 2017, I removed a great deal of negativity from my life. But of course, negativity always wants to reattach and keeps nipping at the heels. My journey up the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island was one of rejuvenation and acceptance as I travelled away from lives that I no longer was a part of, nor could be with any regularity unless I was the one forcing my way into those lives. And after doing that for the better part of a year with one friend, it became apparent that I was in a one-way relationship, so the time came to move on, time to stop chasing after others and start living my own life.
As part of my current writing project, the novel that I conceived in 2009 while on a trip to a Bad Religion concert in Auckland, I have taken up work in an apple orchard as part of Work & Income's Seasonal Work Scheme. Minimum wages are the least of my concerns as I have been given several opportunities to move outside of the original tying branches to wires in long rows and into cutting stumps, and recently, digging up dead stumps and planting trees. While much of this work has generated destruction of my fingers and seemingly permanent dirt lodgings, many of my thoughts have been focussed on narrative, world building, and the purpose of one particular character's work. The idea is that everyone in the community has backyard gardens for food, but much of this orchard work has inspired me to place a small orchard in one of the characters' gardens. Some of the gardening scenes I had intended will remain as they help to describe certain aspects of the world the characters live in, but with the specifics of the orchard, it helps to describe not only other aspects of the physical world and some of the problems they have been having with sink-holes and earthquakes, but also deepens the community involvement in each others' lives.
While I have been, and am currently living in, a converted shepherd's house (each room a separate bedroom for housing two workers with kitchen, showers, and toilets in an outside location a few metres away), I look forward to moving into a genuine house with flatmates and a warm fire to come home to tomorrow (and a washing machine I don't have to insert bloody coins in to use - could an employer get any more stingy?).
Oh, and the fantails!! They love to flitter about between the trees chirping at the workers, playfully flying as close as possible but just beyond reach, curious about what these humans are up to. Sometimes I suspect they are all angry at us interfering with their trees. But they seem so friendly. So nah, can't be that!
She’s so young, so early out of childhood, yet so soon to become her own adult.
Sometimes J’nata wished she could trade the long arduous quarters of day for more time in her own life to experience and watch children become the same adults they were. Better adults. But it was never to be. Death came to parents within moments of children being born to their own children.
Had any adults ever lived to see children of children grow to fruition?
J’nata took the garden knife and started chipping away at the hardened dew-sap that had formed between the top of the apple and it’s stem.
Ch’rie watched her curiously. “Why doesn’t it fall off like all the other fruit?”
“All the excess sap from the previous dim day has hardened around the top of the fruit. It’s too hard to pull straight off so I’m cutting it down instead. The fruit’s fine, but it’s just a consequence of there being too much light during one of the dark days – all that excess sap caused by extra light has to leave the plants. Most of the time it simply drips into the ground from the plant leaves. In fruit-bearing trees is has a tendency to gather at the stems of the fruits themselves.”
Ch’rie was eating into one of the fruit.
“Those are supposed to be for the stalls," J'nata said.
She stopped, teeth buried deep in fruit flesh, voice spluttering juice everywhere: “Still tastes pretty good!”
A wry smile passed across J’nata’s face. “Hurry up and get that basket away to the stalls, otherwise people will be wondering what’s happened to you!”