Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Quilt was Born

The hops harvest was a magical time, long days in the sun compensated by moonlight autumn evenings, dancing on Saturday nights, and relaxing on Sundays. We left to return to our home in the North Island after five happy weeks in the Moutere valley. I had already accepted a proposal of marriage and Chris, my future husband planned to meet my parents during the winter months. Later that year we were married in the little stone church in my home town Inglewood. We settled on the hops farm at Upper Moutere to begin life together and face new challenges along the way.

During those first busy years we shared many joys and sorrows. The birth of six sons but the loss of our second son from Leukemia. It was a time of shocked greiving. However life must go on and so it was with wonderand joy we celebrated the birth of our daughter Ruth in 1963. The combination of farm life and raising our children was indeed an extremely busy phase in my life.

It was more for relaxation that I began my first quilt. A scrap quilt from dressmaking and other sewing project leftovers. There were pieces from my teenage dresses, patches from the boys shirts, curtains and cushions. The quilt comprised a medley of patterns in a simple triangular design. It was reversible too. A kaleidescope of memories stitched with love, for our baby daughter's cot. Can you image the constrasting colors? There were stripes and bright florals, spots and tiny boats, a cream with weeny brown fans. The memories flow on as I turn back the pages of time. Did that quilt foster the love of fabric and stitching which Ruth enjoys and shares with you today? Perhaps it did, I like to think so!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Overseas Excursion

A working holiday to the South Island of New Zealand. In those days it was the equivalent of a big overseas excursion for friend Noreen and me.

First we applied for a position to pick apples but most orchardists required two to three months work to complete the harvest. We were not prepared to be away that long so we were then given jobs on a hops farm, the harvest season only being three to five weeks depending on the weather . The hops picked outdoors in the gardens.

My father who happened to have a conference in Wellington the week we were due to leave drove to the city. From there we boarded the inter island ferry Ngaio, an over night crossingof Cook Strait to Nelson. This service was later discontinued. The sea is and always has been unpredictable between the islands and that crossing was one of the worst for first time sailors. Poor Noreen really suffered and was extremely relieved to reach the calm waters of Tasman Bay Nelson, where we berthed about 8a.m.

We waited and waited for the bus to arrive at the waterfront, finally not just one bus but six arrived several already filled to the doors with seasonal workers from districts further south. Thousands of folk were employed then to harvest apples hops and tobacco. This was the era before mechanical harvesters were invented.

The buses laden with people luggage, goods and chattels set off to Moutere, Motueka and valleys beyond. No seat belts in those days and even extra boxes set along the aisles provided temporary seating. We were left on a country road corner, no one to meet us, two country teenagers in a strange land. However a passing farmer came to our rescue, looked at our contract work papers and drove us to a nearby property. There we were told the farmer had not found time to convert his cowshed into worker accommodation. Little did we know then we had a lucky escape as he had a nasty reputation. Our final destination was a farm along the main road and within walking distance of Upper Moutere village. The scene was set, harvest due to begin, romance was in the air!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Quilt in the making!

Write for a blogspot I was asked. What next I thought. New names, strange words, a different language. I have been told blogging is about real people doing real things and telling their story. This is a challenge for someone like me who has reached the great grandmother status. Memories galore, where will I start?

My teenage years or beyond living in a small rural district in Taranaki New Zealand, under the shadow of majestic Mt. Egmont now renamed Mt. Taranaki. It was a typical farming lifestyle, milking cows, feeding calves in the spring, making hay in the summer and feeding out the silage and hay come winter. A happy carefree time with my parents shouldering the responsibilities of family farm and inevitably finances.

Teenage years were fun, then came a working holiday at age 17 yrs to Nelson, South Island which changed my life forever. Next time life in rural Nelson?