Last year, as a means to get fit and active, I decided to start walking. I live in a rural town, which has footpaths around the village but not anywhere else and with milk tankers and log trukcs hurtling passed, it wasn’t the safest place to walk, unless you went along the riverbank, which was sometimes closed due to gravel works.
I knew of a bush walk, I had been to the start of it once, but never fully investigated it. It seemed like a good idea at the time… It took me several weeks to actually discover it was a loop track, but that wasn’t what amazed me the most. It was the beauty, the sound, the coolness of the native bush and the steep widing path running through it.
This small patch of native bush is surrounding by farm land and goes up a rather steep hill. Climbing through it, I recalled writing about my intrepid travellers riding horses up a steep bare hillside track. After the second walk, I came home and changed my story, so that they were climbing through steep bush clad hills, with ferns umbrella-ed over them, the coolness of the forest floor, the richness of the smell of the soil, the bird call the greeted us as we walked. My son developed a fascination for bellbirds, especially when they would flit down and sit on branches next to him while he walked.
The colours might be plain, but the way they work together to create such beauty, the lines they form. This part of the native is fairly new, regenerative, but further up the track it is dense and the trees are thick and tall, not original native bush, but old enough to have been here longer than the village. So what did this small patch of bush see? Experience?
I love ferns, the way the are shaped, the forks on the leaves, the colour, texture, the lushness of them. Punga trees are magnificent and part of the inspiration behind the lantern tree in my Chrystias story, where they grow very tall, but long tendrils with lights at the end flow down from the top.
A chapel, in the final book of my Chrystias story, is inside a large hollow tree, which was inspired by stories of Tane Mahuta, a large Kauri tree in the north island, and also in part by the large redwood forests in California, where some trees are actually driven through!
I am unsure what this tree is, it vaguely looks like a wild fuschia, but the bark is paper thin and hangs in large strips from the tree. This plant was gnarled and twisted like it was in pain – from what?
Well, these are some of the things that have inspired me, Native bush has a big place in my heart, as does New Zealand, my homeland.