My Garden ~ Talofa! We were captivated by fa’a Samoa

Last week was our special time together. We chose to quietly celebrate 40 years of married life in the islands of Samoa. Last week we found Paradise.  No cellphone, no book, no television or radio. No grandkids. Just us. Island time. Siesta time. Conversations as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Himself and I became willing captives in this beyond-our-Kiwi-lifestyle, traditional way of life of the friendly Samoan people.

Like Rupert Brooke the poet who visited Samoa, we were enchanted as we lay “on a mat” and looked “out on the white sand under the high palms and gentle sea, and the black line of a reef a mile out…”. We too met “the loveliest people in the world, moving and dancing like Gods and godesses. It is sheer beauty, so pure it is difficult to breathe in it.” Of course we took in the sights and familiarised ourselves with Samoan culture and history. We listened to the stories about legendary hotelier Aggie Grey and Robert Louis Stevenson who was known as Tusitala the soryteller.  Film-makers have been inspired by the spectacular lagoons with their palm-fringed beaches. I must read James Michener again and see the movie Return to Paradise filmed at Matatau on Upolu Island. I didn’t need a book.The stories were there before me.

We trawled the local food and craft markets. Naturally, I was interested in what village people grew in their gardens and plantations. In our travels, I marvelled at how hard people in the villages work to live on meagre means. They fish in the lagoons and beyond the reef. They cultivate taro, breadfruit, papaya, plantains and other vegetables and fruits as food staples year-round for their large aiga (families). Their pride is reflected in their immaculately kept villages. There’s more in these islands: volcanic lava fields; the rainforests; fresh water streams and waterfalls; nature’s riot of colour repeated on the houses, churches and fale. A pod of whales cavorted on cue in the sea during one ferry trip. The turtles in Savaii were captivating.

Back at the resort into the night, there was Samoan dancing and singing and fresh game fish on the menu. It was all so leisurely. After a day in the tropical heat, a tall glass of gin, tonic and fresh lime poured over ice seemed just right.  I wondered vaguely (ever so momentarily)  how I would ever manage to go back to work and do all the physical gardening activities at home. Getting to know another country is exciting. Our time in Samoa was too short. We didn’t see it all but we will go back. This was our special time.

I even had to remind myself to take any photos at all such was the entranced state we found ourselves in.

My Garden ~ a ruby wedding anniversary

Forty years ago today, that spring day was much as it is now with patches of blue sky, warming day temperatures urging signs of renewed life, bursts of early springtime colour daubed amid the greenery.  In my girlhood, I grew up with large country gardens in the farming area. Thinking about my parents’ garden evoked memories.

Plants echo those that grew  in my parents’ garden. I hear Mum’s voice lamenting four decades ago, the difficulty in September of doing floral arrangements when in another month, October, roses would be in full bloom. Himself and I were getting married. It was a country district do and after the formal church service and reception, the guests came

Dad wanted us to be married on the same day as he and Mum celebrated their 22nd anniversary. Himself and I were agreeable. My parent’s wedding day in 1946, was a simple affair in England with four guests before Dad was repatriated to New Zealand. Their photo shows Dad wore his army uniform and at his side, Mum was wearing a classic, two-piece, pale blue suit and a small pretty matching hat. Two Aunties helped her out with clothing coupons. Mum told us she also managed to get stockings to wear that day.

Happy. That is how I remember my day in 1968.  It was a communal affair. Himself’s sister sewed my guipure lace wedding gown. Mum baked three traditional rich fruit wedding cakes – large, medium, small. My Aunty iced, decorated and assembled the 3-tier wedding cake. Another Aunty baked and decorated the pavlovas. My Matron-of-honour’s mother sewed three bridesmaids’ gowns. Dad killed a beef steer to provide the beef for the caterers to cook for the wedding breakfast. Neighbours arranged flowers and set up the local district hall for the wedding reception for 250 guests.

Matching Chrysler Valiant cars borrowed from my Aunt and Uncle and a neighbour for the bridal entourage, were driven by my cousins. A local farmer whose hobby was photography, did the honours. I was on time and Himself and I each said “I do”.

“I do… I do”.

It was the same story for my cousins, my sister and others in the farming district in an era when family life events were transformed into rural social occasions. A special memory evoked by splashes of springtime floral colours and scents in my garden this mornng.