It's been a whirlwind. A flurry of cyclonic hemispheric emprise. Seasons come and go, ebb and flow.
In July I turned 40, celebrated in true bacchanalian form with a customary Patea Ho-Down. Beloved revellers from around the country congregated for a three-day sensory feast. While the home-fires were burning, I swam through pools of liquid love. Sensational performances by Orchestra of Spheres, Boss Christ and random jam-gems had me screaming like a lunatic, rendering me voice-less for three days. An epic way to kick off my fifth decade.
In August we travelled to Europe in a big plane with 500 strangers. Jetlag was cunningly avoided by fermented grape juice, deep fried fishes and other welcoming rituals on arrival in London. And, so began five weeks of goodness.
I saw Patti Smith play in Berlin. My self-adopted god-mother of poetry, clarity of spirit and depth of love, she performed Horses, forty years since conception - I wept and soared. We traipsed over 20kms a day on foot, soaking up the art and pain of walls and halls, sweating it all out again in the heat.
One night in Paris, sleeping in a room behind Moulin Rouge with fake Keith Haring paintings made in Thailand.
I serenaded the Eiffel Tower, post-champagne, vermouth and mescal when it could have been absinthe.
A train to Provence, stunning azure calanques, bouillabaisse, virgin epiphanies, grengage and infinity pools.
On to Amsterdam - bikes, bongs and canals. Hosted by fine folk. Then nestled in the Cantabrian hills, homebaked cheesecakes and fish stews, the moonscape mountains, baby donkeys, kids with sandy bums, paella, cool river swims. Too many images, so many faces, increased spatial and navigation awareness. The best hosts. I loved it all.
The final photo is me at my exhibition of Mexican Icon prints at Climpson & Sons cafe, Broadway Market, London.
Coming home brought some mixed feelings. Patea is a very small place, in a little island at the bottom of the Pacific. Massive streets with little sign of life. The light is so bright. Where are all the people? I did not think I would miss watching people 'put their face on' on the tube, but I did. I hit a wall of restlessness and chronic itchy feet. I wanted to keep moving, seeing, doing.
A month or two on, I've settled back into things. Suprisingly, I came home to a couple of cheques in the post - I won first and second prize in the Franklin Art Festival in Auckland. My documentary has been launched. We held an exhibition of work by eleven Patea artists, Toi Patea. And I had my portrait by Sue Morton exhibited.
I'm pleased with the result - a fusion of my passion for nature, print and ink. Tattoos and etchings, two of a kind.
I learnt the magic of mezzotint last month, from the queen herself, Julia Ellery from Whanganui. The deep velvety blacks are deliciously lush. An entirely new process for me, all about burnishing in the whites, gentle and subtle.
We embarked down to the heart of the South Island for a reunion of the tribe from 20 years ago. Big bonfires, rafting down rapids of the mighty Buller river, feasting and a sense of belonging that only whanau can give us.
My mate Di took me up in a two seater Aerobat last weekend. We flew out to the coast and then looped up high enough to look into the crater of Maunga Taranaki. My cup overflows. Onwards to summer.