Thursday, December 19, 2013

Too many deaths - a poem for forestry workers

Another death this week, this time of a 20-year-old. Here is a poem by New Zealand poet Eileen Duggan, written in the 1930s. It's appalling that eighty years on, it is still utterly relevant for today's forestry workers and their families.

The Bushfeller 
Lord, mind your trees today!
My man is out there clearing.
God send the chips fly safe.
My heart is always fearing. 
And let the axehead hold!
My dreams are all of felling.
He earns our bread far back.
And then there is no telling. 
If he came home at nights
We'd know, but it is only –
We might not even hear –
A man could lie there lonely. 
God, let the trunks fall clear.
He did not choose his calling.
He's young and full of life –
A tree is heavy, falling.
                                    Eileen Duggan

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Harvey's weta hotels

When Harvey died, I asked people to make donations in his name to Zealandia. Those in charge talked to me and we decided to use the money for weta hotels. Harvey much preferred birds to wetas, but I wanted something relatively permanent that could have his name on it. For various reasons I didn't get to see the finished hotels until today, and they're terrific. There are two of them, standing beside a path through the bush - they're always set up in pairs, close to tree trunks, and there are only six pairs of hotels in the sanctuary. They're made from macrocarpa logs, neatly split and hinged down the middle, so you can open them to see the oblong "rooms" inside, neatly covered with plastic windows. (But please close them again quickly - wetas don't like light.) The wetas get in through holes bored through from the outside, and there were two large ones and a little junior one in residence. (The warmer it gets, the more wetas seem to arrive.) One hotel has a plaque about Harvey, while the other has a very appropriate quote from one of his late poems. Today's brilliant sunshine made taking photos a bit tricky, but we did our best.

And here's the whole poem that quote comes from. It was the last one we read at his public memorial service.
Thomas Hardy  
      I notice how finches bend delicate
      dandelion stalks to get at the seeds.

      I notice how the cat sniffs the air 
      before she ventures outside.

      I notice the oak sheds more & more leaves
      & how the wind whirls them into patterns

      I notice the sun 
      rises later each morning

      I know that soon the sun will reverse track.
      I know that one day I will not be here to see that

      But let it be known
      here was another man who noticed things.