Monday, December 13, 2010

Pirates, Pools, and Plants

This morning's grand outing was to Hohepa Farm, a farm and home for the mentally retarded, or as stated on the website, "a Registered Charitable Trust providing Intellectual Disability Services based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner". Over two hundred residents and staff live on-site, and take part in the running of the biodynamic farm and manufacture of products for the Hohepa Farm Shop, such as beeswax candles, wooden toy carvings, knitted blankets and scarves, and the best organic cheese in all of Hawke's Bay. (Aspects of Hohepa Farm reminded me of Providence Farm on steroids.) Music therapy is also a large part of life at Hohepa, and the reason for our visit this morning was to see their production of Pirates of Penzance.

I didn't go in expecting miracles, and that was likely the wisest approach. The lead characters were given to aides and care workers, but this only ensured the dialogue and storyline kept flowing at a (mostly) understandable pace, and that the other actors didn't wander aimlessly around the stage. (At the very least, they certainly weren't cast for their singing ability.) While I found myself trying not to cringe most of the time as I was subjected to one "musical" number after another, I could see how happy some of the resident were to be onstage performing; their huge smiles when the audience reacted favourably to something they did, their pride in their costumes and having memorised their lines, and the enjoyment they got out of singing and dancing were all readily apparent. While I still said a silent prayer of thanks when it was all over, I am glad I went, because it allowed me to glimpse an aspect of life here in New Zealand that as Skye said, "you wouldn't normally get on the tourist circuit".

After the play we were supposed to go to the beach for a swim, but halfway there Finn decided he had had enough stimulation for the day and just wanted to go home and have a nap, so we ended up taking a windy backroad home. It was muggy and stiflingly hot in the car, and I had really been looking forward to an afternoon spent at the ocean. However, I understand being sensitive to Finn's needs; it must have been very stressful for him to be surrounded by all those people in a relatively confined space for over two hours.

When we got back to Waipawa Skye and Finn went off for their afternoon siesta, and I headed down to the library to return a few items, and then over to the New World to pick up milk and tomatoes. By this point I was even hotter and craving a swim, so I brought my towel with me (I was already wearing my bathing suit) and went down to the Waipawa River in Coronation Park for a swim. A few days ago when I was there I discovered a fairly deep and calm pool that I thought would be ideal for swimming, and today I got to test my theory out. Conclusion: a perfectly satisfactory place for one to have a swim, albeit slightly cold, but that was more than welcome on a hot, muggy day like today.

Later in the afternoon I went over to Mike and Maria's to water their outdoor plants, and met their cat, Flash, whose age makes him neither very regal-looking nor very fast, but endearing nonetheless. Sadly I had no food to give him, as another neighbour is feeding him, even though he did follow me around expectantly every time I went near the kitchen door. The best I could do was refill his water dish.

This evening I was working in the garden until the low-hanging clouds finally started to drench us with rain (this always happens: I thoroughly water someone's outdoor plants, and not twenty minutes later it starts to pour!), so I switched to working in the workshop; I laid out another 49 knitted squares and started making a new blanket. If the rain continues, that ought to keep me busy for another three days at least.

I am incredibly tired right now (I'm going to blame the mental exhaustion of the play and hot car ride, as well as my energetic swimming), so it's off to bed for me. Night!


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