I remember the first time I saw our little bay here in Whangaparaoa.
My parents had a house on the other side of the peninsula but it was some distance from the beach. Mom loved swimming and the beach was her second home during the summer - all year round really as she loved to walk along the sand - but her Parkinson's was starting to slow her down. She and Dad decided to find somewhere closer to the water, on the flat, so she could still walk down and enjoy the sea.
One day I was visiting them and Mom and I were out in the car and she said, 'Drive down here, I want to show you this place' and we came down the steep hill, winding our way to the bay.
'This is one of my favourite places,' she said, 'because it's a quiet little bay and there's plenty of bush and birds.'
Not long after that, Dad and I purchased a property here. Way up in the bush was the funky little bach that has become my home, and Dad set about designing and building a house for Mom on the lower part of the section. I'm still in the little house, although it's been added to a bit, and Mom and Dad's house is now my writing studio and workplace.
My family has been here for a long time.
There is such comfort in 'home', having a place where your roots are deep. Home is security during turbulent times, a place of refuge, of family, a 'base of operations' from which we venture out into daily life. Memories of home stay with us. We may have many homes during our lifetime, or very few, and usually there are one or two that leave a greater footprint in our memories.
This place is home to me for many reasons. My Mom loved it and I love it. The connection goes from the heart to the land, the bush, sky and sea, the birds and even the old cranky possum that bangs about on my roof at night.
The comfort this place brings to me during such a weird and unnatural time is immense. I've weathered many storms here. This is the first time I've experienced a pandemic but every morning I am grateful to be here, in this place, watched over by all that is familiar and the lingering sense of family, now gone but ever present in the sound of the waves, the swish of wind in the trees, the bird song, the feel of grass and soil underfoot.