We’ve experienced a drought this summer unlike one anyone can remember in this area for at least thirty years. Usually in New Zealand’s far North it is somewhat (and sometimes seriously) dry from early January until late March. This year the drought started in early November and finally broke about two weeks ago in late April. That translates to almost six months with very little moisture in a place accustomed to receiving abundant rainfall.

We rely on rainwater captured in two large tanks (one of 5000 gallons and one of roughly twice that amount) for all of our household use and for the garden. This summer, every time it looked like we’d run out we’d receive enough rain to get us out of trouble.

Granted we are very careful with water usage, minimizing the length of showers, not flushing every pee (there are signs above the toilets for visitors), only watering the vegetable areas in the evening every couple of days etc. We even capture the first shower water (before it gets hot) in a bucket for use in the garden.

Frankly, as the drought wore on I had to retire a couple of vegetable beds, covering them in thick mulch and leaving them empty during the summer heat.

But all this is of the past. We’ve had numerous showers over the past 14 days. The ground is again saturated and perennial flowers and grasses that had looked almost dead are vibrantly green and growing as if there will be no tomorrow. Anemones that I thought would wait until next year have cast up masses of five petal white flowers. The stems are shorter than usual but who’s to complain.

As I said earlier, each time it looked like we would run out of water, enough rain would come to keep us out of trouble, just in the nick of time. I’m reminded of the time in the early nineties when we were living in New Mexico. Dear friends of ours were due to fly to Germany and I was going to drive them to the airport in Albuquerque. They wanted a house sitter to look after their dog and chickens while they were in Europe. No one had responded to notices they’d posted and we decided that I would feed the dog and chickens (and collect eggs) while they were away. It was a less than ideal situation since we were living about a fifteen minute drive away.

Nevertheless, it was agreed we’d do this. I arrived at their place early the morning of their departure and helped load their luggage into the car. They were an excited bunch because the night before they’d received a call from a woman who would love to house sit. They’d met her and saw that she’d be ideal for the job. All was well, just on time.

I think too of the times I’ve attended births. The mother-to-be reaches a point where she feels she can’t take any more pain. Often, just, at that moment, the baby arrives. Just on time.

I wonder too if this is what we’re experiencing collectively on the planet just now. It would appear the forces of dissolution are tearing down the economic structures whose form no longer works, if it ever did. Many have lost jobs and money. Our youngest daughter, nineteen, just landed her first full time work after a year of searching. I wonder if a magnificent global birth is just around the corner, peaking and hinting at its presence within the words and actions of those committed to creating a New Earth. I wonder if this birth is even beginning now, on the hills and in the valleys, where likeminded people are gathering with new ideas of how we can live and work in community, while we help reconstruct the environment we’ve been steadily tearing down since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago. I wonder. I wonder.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

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In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

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Cape Gooseberries, Feijoas, Bananas and More from the Garden April 2009

Cape Gooseberries, Feijoas, Bananas and More from the Garden April 2009



To reach our beach we need only walk along a footpath between two neighbouring houses. These neighbours have turned this public esplanade into a garden of beauty.


At the end of many early morning walks I return to the garden with handfuls of seaweed, mostly kelp that has washed in with a north easterly swell; a gift from the sea. After a storm I may fill several 30 litre bags with seaweed. This then sits covered in the compost area until I have a place to dig it into the garden.


When we first arrived here more than three years ago, the clay soil was heavy when wet, and it dried out and cracked quickly in the hot summer sun. Now, after four years of added seaweed, compost, grass clippings and mulched leaves and twigs, the soil is loose, friable and holds water well without getting sticky.


I allow many of my favourite greens to go to seed – summer and winter lettuces, kale, orach, fat hen, chickweed, amaranth, bok choy, etc. Much of the garden is a year round self sown mesclun mix. Lucia and I eat salad every day of the year from this wild, rich, tender and tasty mix of greens. In addition there are often surprise self sown plants popping up in the garden – tomatoes, passionfruit, alpine strawberries, pineapple guavas….The list goes on and on.


You give nutrients and love to the soil and plants, and they give so much back. One feels incredibly grateful for the freely given abundance of nature.


The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.


                                                                            Dorothy Gurney 1858 – 1952


John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.



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