Published September 2009 in Healthy Options magazine, New Zealand
When I was a kid I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to live in every city in the world. I wanted to get to know the feel of the place and the people that lived there. Although I am nowhere near having reached such a goal, I have lived and worked in several widely different places and can say that there is definitely a personality to a place which infuses the various species that reside there. For example, Aotearoa (New Zealand), seems to call people to her and then challenges them to the Nth degree, often bringing them to the point Odin reached as he hung upside down from Yggdrasil, the world tree. For many people this challenge comes instantly in the form of asthma and allergies, for others more slowly through relationships and interactions with other elements.
I saw this more clearly when my man, Fred, arrived from New York. Aotearoa was a big shock to him in many different ways, the first of these was the amazing hospitality we received from friends of a friend. We were moving to Wellington, winter was beginning and we had just spent a freezing night camping. When we called them, they’d just gotten back from a funeral in Napier, but opened up their home to us for the night and even fried us up some tasty egg sandwiches. We were fortunate to have found a place to move into the next day and they sent us off in the morning with their extra space heater to get us started. Both of us were utterly flabbergasted by this open spirit of hospitality, but Fred’s sense of order from his upbringing in New York—where you never leave anything unlocked—was shattered.