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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
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time passes with little changes

It’s a month since the gates were locked across Otaki Gorge road so our life has been different since then. And so we wait, some of the cracks have enlarged and slumping has continued close to the springs paddock but overall just walking across is about the same. The concrete barriers have been ajar so we have brought our serviced quad bike back after 2 weeks.

The changes have bought a measure of quietness into our lives intersected by the occasional phone call and connection with Steve the DOC Ranger. We have taken time to be still, i have pottered in the garden getting reading for planting with some tyres filled with the contents of the bukashi buckets, soil from the hen run and some leaves we collected into bags from a friend’s house in Otaki a few months ago. So I’m stirring into action by taking out some of the finished plants, picking the seed heads of the russian kale before it bursts into flower, looking at the task of getting everything started for the months ahead by soaking seeds, buying some more plants ready to go like silverbeet, spinach, pokchoi and 2 zuchinni plants. It’s amazing to see potatoes sprouting and the odd bit of asparagras appear.

On walking it’s great to see the Oleria Rani flowering mostly on the part of the road from the corner entrance to the Pukeatua stream track to the cairn…5 trees here flowering every 5 years. There is lemonwood (tarata) and wineberry which I believe the bees are collecting nectar from plus the gorse as there’s plenty of yellow pollen on the legs of the bees.

It’s time to try making some weta motels… have yet to try the small hand held router…. but a hand saw cut the wood today so I’m heading forward. I will try to do some kind of creative project each day I think. There are tunnels to make up so there’s a never ending possiblity list for me.

It’s time to contemplate on the goodness of God, what He is like and to take time to listen and meditate on His word. Yes all these are aspects of prayer and then there’s thanking Him for the privileges we have at this time, a time of learning, reading and journalling. So one can fill the day in many ways plus throwing in some walking and pest control work.

Reading the biography of Rees Howells has been a reminder and challenge to live as ” dead ” with no will or self to dominate my life and reactions, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to do God’s will. In other ways it’s to be obedient to promptings, to step out into what I feel God is wanting me to do, even if it’s a phone call to a friend who had been planning to visit this week, to tell her about the road so she said to me, ” This is a God call”. She will change her plans! A pity but at least it saved a difficult situation as I didn’t know she was planning to come till I phoned her.

Signs of change on the land and sea.

Walking at dusk last night highlighted the isolation we are in. No sign of traffic on the road which has had a day of rain. It was amazing to see in the fading light the flowers of Oleria Rani, Wineberry and Lemonwood trees were visible in the growing darkness as we walked from the carpark to the bridge…. amazing that it’s flowering time again. We had birds with their evening chorus around us with the piwakawaka flitting about. Quite a scene as we strolled together, sharing life.

A different time of year than lockdown, a different focus with thoughts of how to be filled with the Spirit of God and have fruitful lives. It’s been a locked in situation with still being able to walk across the road, as we wait to the fall. I do wonder sometimes how long.,… even thinking on Saturday about the scripture in Mark 11 where Jesus said, ” you can say to the mountain be cast into the sea”. By faith believing and it will happen. So that’s a word for us but we declared it would be into the river, soon, within 1-2 months not 3 years, leaving us a place to walk across and a road be formed again. .

the continuing unfolding of this present saga.

More signs are expected today to alert trampers about access to the Tararua Forest Park as plans are being made for an alternative entry which will probably include our place again using the dam track from Kathy’s Way. Steve the Ranger appeared on his scooter with Patch perched on the back to get a key for the gate to be opened to the track as he came in that way on Wednesday night.

More signs, less foot traffic wanted as we wait the day when that piece of hillside that has the cracks that are increasing in size, fall into the river. It’s a waiting game so as we transverse the area on foot I wonder when, many speculations around. The quad is getting serviced and we are making it safer with a roll bar and adding a small trailer with the help of the local serviceman.

Our days will change in character and activity for sure, especially as I won’t be going to Lower Hutt each week to see family as I did last term. It’s sure an exercise in surrender…being able to change into what seems like a new season. Surely God is in this so we embrace what time we will have for more prayer and waiting on HIm.

I imagine it will include more walking and carrying loads so I have tried to purchase for a few weeks in anticipation of a long journey of waiting and fixing. I will need to move the water tank in the Springs paddock from it’s prime position I imagine, collect up pest control bait stations and be prepared for changes in the springs paddock as engineers consider a solution to the road access across our land.

It feels like a roller coaster journey… nothing certain, daily arranging, changing plans and activities with some that remain the same like feeding the birds and going out doing pest control activities resetting traps and replacing bait, keeping to a schedule is good.

Safety is important as David found falling off his bike carrying a box at Blue Bluffs, grazing a hand, elbow and hip, nothing bad but a reminder to take care.

Road closure at Blue Bluffs

It has happened rather suddenly yet not really with the way the cracks have been appearing in the road especially obvious was the slumping of land opposite the gate to the springs paddock. It changes our life to one of walking at least 1 km, trolleying or wheelbarrowing supplies plus using a back pack again as we come and go. The signs say No Pedestrian Access from the locked gates. This mean no hunters, trampers and day walkers are welcome to walk past our house but as we have found many people don’t read signs.

The Kapiti Coast District Council staff have been working on the site removing concrete barriers with the decision they will assess the area in 2 weeks time. A geologist is involved and preliminary plans are being made to restore the road after the slip using land from the springs paddock area and probably trees being removed and the water tank I set up needing to be dismantled too.

It is a waiting time with preparations being made the best we can, with getting more bird food and other basics to last a few months, getting the quad serviced, having the car, 4×4 and trailer on the Otaki side. Having good walking boots, socks and backpacks out of storage and the loan of a light wheelbarrow.

The biggest thing is having our attitudes and reactions to change exposed. We are challenged daily by something. Learning to give thanks in everything and praise God in the midst of this time will be important. We are grateful for KCDC Staff support, neighbours allowing us to have vehicles at their place, the opportunity to take the quad in and out for servicing through a gap in the concrete barriers for 2 weeks, the weather warming up as spring is here.

This is a big change for the DOC Ranger as he has been asked to leave so that means finding accommodation locally and occasional visits to check on the house etc. A suddenly that has been hard for him and leaves us as they only ones at the entrance to the Taruaua Forest Park with no access at present for the public unless the emergency track is activated again.

Changes and opportunities

the amazing environment here is the environment for having birds and pests. We are having a new activity of bird monitoring with 3 monthly walks on the Arcus Dam track listening for 5 minutes every 200 metres. It is amazing to learn new bird sounds that have been present here for years without me knowing what they were. So the tomtit call has become the one I hear even around the house. It’s an exciting thing to hear them in the numbers that we found plus the possibility of a rifleman being at the second creek ( heard but not seen).

Great to have the young people here doing the Papa Taiao pest control course for 2 days. Inspired to keep going with the encouragement about what we are doing here. I have been focusing on how to monitor the wetas that may be here. I have put out some bamboo lengths on the track and on tracks around the house. In an attempt to make a different type I have taken some macracarpa firewood bits into a weta hotel by buying a tool to help with cleaning out the centre……a new skill to learn.

Another change is the slipping nature of the river side of the road. Workers are now putting together a support about 1 km from the house across the Pukeatua stream bridge leaving the digger and other equipment in the area across the road from the house entrance. Yesterday a line of cones appeared close to the Springs Paddock river side as the road has sunk over the past weeks where vehicles turn…. is this the future place of a land slip. It is possible? Do we need to have a vehicle prepared on the other side of the Blue Bluffs slip face?

Spring days for 2020

Back in Level 2 has meant few changes for us, with more people distancing outside the grocery stores and in public settings/meetings, a few people wearing masks but mostly it’s life a usual.

We have had a great spell of warm spring weather now we have the rain of spring, most welcome after such a dry period. Pity it’s a bit cooler with now sunshine to heat the house. The underfloor and rayburn are welcomed at this time. We had a trip with the trailer one afternoon to collect dead gorge from the side of the road… the hottest burning wood available I believe… it was mostly easily broken up after just pulling it out of the ground only needing the chainsaw for the thicker stems. There’s more to collect if we so wish. It has been sprayed by road side spraying contractors.

We are glad for spring flowers again… in the garden -daffodils, on the tree tops- clematis looking like butterflies waving in the wind, the corybas orchids with their spider like flowers seen again on the road reserve, tiny white flower pieces from some native tree that puts a confetti like cover on the tracks, So life is stirring into action again… birds getting ready for laying as I guess that’s why there are more flocks of tui about.

Walkers still enjoy the track to the dam….some commenting that it’s a spiritual, walk others that it’s refreshing, of course it’s wet underfoot as it’s in the shade at this time of year.

Water tank filling from a spring.

It’a been a journey that started during lockdown with thoughts about spring water at the Springs Paddock to the north of the house. I had tried to get spring water into a tank after the pad was made during the time of the slip in 2016 but it dried up… the lower spring.

David read me some verses from the story of Caleb in the book of Joshua and how is daughter asked for land, with upper and lower springs. That caught my attention so I then went looking to see if there was water behind the first level of the slip site where there were ditches behind each level. Sure enough and when I tapped it I found it flowed at 1 litre a minute.

So the journey of getting advice, pipes, fittings and the tank into the area which is filling as I write. Yesterday 24 July 2020 we joined it all together. I have had help at each stage with pulling the tank into position and making the site for it to rest. Another friend pulled the pipe from the area the water is to flow then yesterday David and Steve ( DOC) helped me put the intake into place supported by a piece of spouting. I joined the intake made of conduit with holes in it to that pipe and way it flowed. Hopefully the tank will be still filling and I have tried to put an overflow system away from the tank so it’s not undermined. It’s all amazing and as Steve said another thing to maintain . The Springs paddock now has access to clean and flowing water at the bottom level at the pad, so is getting ready for someone to come and stay. Not sure what it but it’s getting more prepared for a housebus, hut, caravan or something! Mind you it can be a windy spot but from there we could see the snow on the tops of the mountain yesterday.

winter chills

It’s been cold over the past few days as others have found but a good day for all after the storm. Of course there was slip further in as we realised with a digger and trucks hauling fall material away down Gorge road for dumping yesterday. It’s been time for inside jobs… cleaning and sorting in the garage and time to be still with reading. It’s been amazing to see the rata vine flowering for the last 2 months…great red flowers as a highlight in the bush and at the river. Great to have some fantails flitting around the area of the house.

We had a short break in a bach in Otaki and then 2 nights in Wellington. Would you believe we had our first swim then spa at the local council pools in 19 years followed by a roast dinner at the RSA, another first. So it was a good break with books to read and family to see.

Work changes over the winter. The indoor jobs call. Retreats are possible with a house warmed by the boiler and underfloor heating plus the ambiance from the rayburn stove in the kitchen(great for slow cooking in the oven).

Winter has come with varying days

the work outdoors is lessening although the garden called yesterday to dig up yams and jerusalem artichokes. A good supply hidden under dirt and grass. I was able to weed the beds and put most weeds where the now 7 hens are grazing, digging and dust bathing.

David with the help of Sean have been working on completing pruning and improving the dam track so that the quad can now go to the last creek. What a major change after 3 years of no access for the last 1 1/2 km of the track. It is welcomed for carrying tools.

Guests for 2 weekends have come and gone. Challenging some of them but overall it was a special time for them. We are considering how we have a break away from this place…to a warm place? Sorry all flights to Rarotonga are still cancelled. There is a spar pool in Otaki Public pools so that’s an option, mind you we had a neighbour come have a bath here during the week as she is in house truck accommodation without one.

Overcast days, a frost or 2, some rain and so it’s generally cooler. Good time to kill bugs I hope as I saw a large green backed beetle on the deck the other day, not wanted here. The climbing rata has been flowering for a month so that’s a good colour for this time of year…. red flowers covering the plant which the bees go for. Time of year to go to bed early, yeh!

Updating action of late

There’s been a major job done on the slip that had settled with 2 fallen kamahi trees about 3 years ago. With three extra helpers we had the trees cut into lengths, plants uplifted for repotting, earth moved to make a track and drainage done …. about 8 hours work …but there’s more been done to make it safer to take the quad across. All this to help us with track work further on. An amazing experience and educational with fungi, ferns and worms to add to the interest. (Photograph of before action)

It has taken me days to get the potting done, and with the boldness of David getting more pots that were used from Harrison’s nursery the job progresses. I have the new shelter house set out with plants and so we need to get some to move on with giving and sales.

Visitors call sometimes to use the phone having walked from the Forest Park after staying overnight, people coming to stay again with helpers for work on the dam track. It is amazing what conversations with people. It is great to have water tables improved, looking on the property in new ways especially the gift of help to do the first bird monitoring after all these years of pest control…. we saw and heard tuis, bellbirds, silvereyes, chaffinches, tomtits, a kereru and then 2 NZ falcons flying about at the dam ( our last post). We will have another of these in September.