My mum and dad showered us with their time though they struggled to buy shoes for us each bitter Southland winter.
I only vaguely remember sausages for dinner days on end but I clearly recall chapters of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ every night. I can still quote The Jabberwocky verbatim.
My dad taught us to know every native tree in the bush and the song of every bird. He taught us to navigate with a compass and by the stars. We baked potatoes in the embers of the open camp fire and slept in a homemade tent of tarpaulin. We’d never heard of marshmallows.
I remember sharing a bed with my sister when we were little but it’s the old fashioned goosedown quilt and the love and the warmth that has stuck in my mind.
I can still see the flickering shadows on the bedroom wall from the open fire, lit to stave off the Antarctic chill. On winter nights after work Dad would chop wood by lamplight to feed the fires.
We explored far and wide though we rarely left our small province. There was not a side road that my dad could resist checking out. Not a bush track that we could fail to explore. There wasn’t an old man that my dad couldn’t engage and get talking about the old times.
The car was permanently almost out of gas but somehow we always made it there and back.
We had the fanciest education that no money could buy - a house full of books and a dad who loved stories. Loves stories. He’ll be 70 later this year and he’s still an inspiration to me.
We were rich.