I'm absorbed right now in writing a 10 page feature about the district of Thames on the Coromandel NZ, and the town's 150 year celebration marking the day its goldfields were proclaimed open.
I've been called upon to write lots about heritage in recent years - probably because I love it. If you love researching something, you'll generally do a good job and get more of that kind of work.
Thames has many great writers and historians, and their generous help is humbling.
I particularly enjoyed reading this post from David Wilton on The Treasury Thames website, about William Hall. Hall was a pharmacist with a passion for botany, and he was alarmed at the rate of deforestation taking place as thousands of miners swarmed the hills of the newly formed town, using ancient, towering kauri and other noble forest giants wantonly.
His arboretum on the hills of Thames is now a tiny sanctuary of tranquility amid suburbia.
Here's a snippet from David's story, on the Treasury site www.thetreasury.org.nz;
Hall was a pioneer conservationist in a colony, and at a time, when exploiting resources to gain economic advantage was considered to be of paramount importance.
That was the fundamental reason for European nations to seek remote colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries - to harvest resources for the Industrial Age, which was then well under way.
For an individual to advocate restraint, and protection of endangered species, was somewhat akin to heresy. However, that didn't seem to bother Hall. His Letter to the Editor of the Thames Star in 1883 was the first of many.
'It is much to be regretted that a well-organized arboretum for indigenous trees and shrubs has not been established in each of the great centres of population. The extensive, and frequently wanton, destruction of the native bush has been going on at such a pace that it will soon be difficult, if not impossible, to get sight of some of the rarer species. And, unfortunately, the planting of our beautiful New Zealand trees has not generally been adopted, perhaps from the mistaken idea that they are difficult of culture. Partly to disprove this, but principally because I had a great liking for the occupation, I some thirty years ago, began a plantation on a piece of land at Parawai, Thames. ... One object in making these plantations was to induce the visits of our rapidly disappearing native birds. The frequent visits of' the riro-riro, the piwakawaka, and the kotare, with occasional incursions of the ruru, the tui, and the pipiwharauroa, and still more rare appearance of the kaka, kukupa, kohoperoa, weka, and miromiro, have amply repaid my expectations. In conclusion, let me express a hope that these few cursory remarks may induce others to attempt the cultivation of our indigenous flora.'
Today the Thames branch of Forest and Bird continue Hall’s work at the William Hall Arboretum.
John and Mary Hall's grave is in Shortland Cemetery, Thames. It is probable that John planted the exotic trees near his wife’s grave after the death of Mary in 1898.
If you're spending a lot of your day in bare feet, then chances are you have found the kind of balance that Hook & Arrow writer Alison Smith has found in life.