When I wrote in a recent artist's book proposal that making an 'Atlas of Purua' would both document and assist my developing sense of home... it was more because it sounded like the right kind of arty-talk to put in a proposal than because I had really thought about what that might mean or how that would work.
Returning from my week away I have gradually come into a much stronger sense of home here than before I left. I was a little resistant when I first returned, a reluctant lover of this land. I wish I lived on an organic permaculture farm in a beautiful rammed earth eco-house with an established sculpture and food garden full of eccentricity and tropical colours. The reality of this overgrown and neglected beef farm and my tin shed dwelling with its bit of shaggy lawn don't look very much like the fantasy.
But...yesterday the last afternoon of daylight savings turned on humid sunshine for me and I explored more of the wild beauty behind the hills that are my immediate horizon. And as I walked, every new vista, corner or track, every fallen feather and every bird in flight delighted and inspired me. And as I walked, the Atlas took shape in my mind and in developing my book ideas I increase my acute awareness of my surroundings.
Home is a sense of committment, and my commitment emerges with each of the sturdy, spiritual, sensual gifts of the land that I am uncovering through my creative work here. Just as I had anticipated so glibly a month ago my sense of belonging grows out of my pleasure at being fully and creatively engaged in each wonderful moment. I walk with bags for collecting treasures, my wonky little camera and my notebook. I soak up everything and write and draw prolifically.
Even the dead kitten in the pine forest, and especially what I think (hope) might be a kiwi burrow under a punga, move me. Even the most unpromising dusty track offers up a dozen bright feathers from different birds, a crop of lush watercress, a new view of the valley and always, always, the extreme pleasure of exploring these hills I can call home.