The nights are getting longer and the mornings are dark when Michael gets up to go to work. We light the fire in the evenings and we’re beginning to look inwards as the Winter draws near. It’s getting easier to spend time on the corrections for my novel as the days are cooler.
I first noticed this small tinge of red as I drove into the driveway on my way home from my morning swim a few days ago and now notice the glorious colours of Autumn everywhere.
I love this time of year, it feels as if Nature gives us one last burst of light before the real gloom sets in. I find myself gathering up leaves and pressing them in books. The Liquid Amber and Pin Oaks that I pass twice daily on my way to feed the chickens are brilliant just now. Acorns litter the ground under the big Oak beside the stream that runs through our garden and there are mushrooms and toadstools everywhere.
Lately, I have been talking with Managers and Staff of NGOs or what we call in NZ the Community Voluntary Sector, those organisations who work with the very vulnerable members of our community that government agencies no longer care for, as they struggle to reapply for their contracts whilst knowing that government intends to pare their budgets even further than they have already.
It seems wrong to me that people who work hard, with a high degree of professionalism, have to work harder and harder, with increasingly poor working conditions and resources to help their struggling clients, have to keep bearing the burden of these hard times. I wonder if we really need all the layers of managers who exist in our bureaucratic systems, making ‘cutback decisions,’ and earning large salaries.
We seem to be cutting back on all the services that contribute to the well being of our communities, community education, art facilities for mental health consumers, services for those who are addicted, the elderly in care, hospitals. The list goes on.
I wonder if anyone in government ever stops to think what can happen when the vulnerable are cared for by people who are so pressured and seemingly unappreciated. We are reminded every day that our Child Abuse, Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse statistics are appalling and yet the systems set up to intervene in families are undermined whilst the government talks only about punishing offenders more severely and supports big business with vigor. Social Policy seems to be creating its own narratives of disaster. Oh dear, such a lot to worry about.
Since early Summer, the news has been fraught with stories of disaster around the world; floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and war, and the struggle people are having to recover. As I look for stories to tell at the Wellington Storytelling Cafe on the first Tuesday in May I am drawn to the stories, in mythology, of death, destruction and resurrection. These are stories I’ve been drawn to tell over the past few years as I’ve worried about Climate Change and wanted to keep hope alive in myself and others. I think I’ll revamp some of those again this time for this telling.
Life is not all doom and gloom though, yesterday, someone dear phoned to share GREAT NEWS, not public news yet, but wonderful, heartening news, and the Princess Emily and her brother came to visit. (Well, actually, she was being Fairy Emily yesterday) We had great fun sitting, talking in the Tree House (well I was standing on the ladder), feeding chickens, talking to Rosie the goat and tipping out the contents of the old box of toys that have been here as long as they can remember (an important ritual), and launching sticks from one side of the bridge, then, racing to other side to see them emerge into the sunshine and rush along on the racing water until they were out of sight. A dawdling kind of day, eating hard-boiled eggs with scarlet-dyed shells, Dear Daughter’s chocolate slice, and sliced apples and bananas. We drank fruit and vegetable juice and coffee(those of us over 20) and let the world go by.
I’m meandering on, trying to make sense of The Editor’s suggestions for the novel, a stimulating but sometimes daunting task. It’s so hard to fiddle with my baby but I am learning a lot from The Editor’s comments and her kindness and belief in my writing and the novel itself. Writing a novel really is a team effort. This week has been so busy with ‘daily life,’ the Art and Creativity Workshops I’ve been attending and the never ending Physiotherapy, that the novel has languished but it’s Easter this weekend, hopefully there will be time to get on with it.