We left our home in Balikpapan, Indonesia, when they transferred my husband to Jakarta. My husband worked offshore, so he was rarely home while he was on shift. And the idea of moving from Balikpapan, on Borneo Island, to the bustling city of Jakarta, on Java Island, was too much for me. I would miss my friends and our outdoor adventures, as it is not as easy to bike around Jakarta. We decided our daughter and I would explore New Zealand and Australia. We lived close enough together that he could fly to see us, while I found a new homeland to explore, from its geography, culture, to seasons.
The best part of moving because you want to, not for a job or family, is you are free to explore until you find a place you want to stay for a while. So we bought a car and headed off on our new adventure. We travelled around, camping, hiking, visiting museums, trying to determine which place felt most like home. It took us a month, but we finally reached Napier, in Hawke’s Bay.
Napier, New Zealand
A wonderful place to explore Art Deco Architecture, vineyards, bike trails, and fresh produce. Our home base for six months.
We stayed across from the palm tree-lined promenade, looking over the black rock beaches and the blue of the Pacific Ocean reaching out into the clouds. There was no land insight, and the Maori name for the country, Aotearoa, “The Land of the Long White Cloud” is suiting. Surrounded by apple, pear, and stone fruit, and grape orchards, it was the ideal place to live. It was the center of the second-largest wine region in New Zealand, a utopia for me who loved fresh produce and great wine. We purchased two bikes and a bike trailer for our daughter and moved in. The year was 2012.
Although we did not have the snowy Christmas’s of Canada, (We were used to it living in Indonesia), we loved camping over the Christmas holidays. For the week between Christmas and New Year, we camped and hiked to our heart’s content. The sun shone down on us and flowers perfumed the air. Like I said, perfect. Yet this New Year celebration was filled with mystery and unease. The Mayan calendar ended in December. What would become of the world? What did it mean?
This is not the long form calendar, but it provides a beautiful example of the artistry of the Mayan calendar system.
The cycle of the ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar began August 11th, 3114 BCE, and ended, the winter solstice, December 21st, 2012. They built their calendar understanding that time was cyclical, not linear. That when one cycle of the calendar ends, another begins. If you would like to learn more about the Mayan Calendars, check it out here. Time, itself, was a deity, and as such, had no end. Yet, they did not predict the world’s end, but rebirth.
The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like thisWilliam Saturno
But I was in New Zealand, one of the first lands to pass through to the New Year. And if I exist in the land that faces the New Year first, why wouldn’t I watch for its arrival? So we did. As expected, the world continued to turn, and we all turned a day older. But that took me back to the Mayan idea of rebirth. The stillness at the moment, the quiet away from civilization, alone with the stars. I was one with nature. I use Earth Hour to reach that same level of stillness each year. To consider the rebirth of Earth, my home, and what I can do to make it better.
I managed the environmental department and initiatives in the public sector for years, so considering the environmental impact was intrinsic in my decision making. But after my New Year with the stars, I also considered the cultural, social, and mindful decisions I made. I explored culture more alongside the environment. It is one of the many reasons I collect folklore today.
So as tomorrow is Earth Hour, I urge you to take the hour of quiet and consider what is important in your lives. What will you spend more time with, what is it time to let go of? No matter where we are from or what we believe, there is always something new to explore in our futures. I find creation stories to be a beautiful way to see our world with fresh eyes.
Earth Hour: Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 8:30pm local time (20:30)
As I have spent time back in Canada, I am reading more of North American creation stories. Let me leave you with the creation story of the Cree as recorded by David Thompson:
Here is another version of the Creation story told by Norm Wesley, shared by Stan Wesley.