G’day I’m Bruce I work in the engineering sector and I’m also known as hottriggeredkiwi. A clue to my history is that I grew up on a dairy farm near a tiny town in rural Waikato.
I was diagnosed with sero-negative ankylosing spondilitis back in the late 80’s, and have since had further health issues with more arthritis with associated complications.
My day generally starts in the dark and finishes long into the night. I try to just enjoy life and get the most out of each day, spending time with my lovely wife and indulging my passion for photography - mostly of cloud formations, seascapes and landscapes.
Every minute I get to enjoy with my wife is special – she holds my heart. Between us we had determined that I needed a break as much as we needed some time together by ourselves.
I had some leave, initially only for Monday and Tuesday. Leave days at our place usually kick off before dawn. The further the intended trip, the earlier the start, and on the first couple of days we were on the road by 4.30am to arrive at our destination before dawn sometime after 6.00am.
Depending on where we went, we were greeted with wetland and riverside mists, which lifted as the frosty air warmed up or turned to fog once the sun rose. We also encountered grey skies over pine forests, and finally, yet ever so briefly, some beautiful morning light in the pine forest and native bush near the Tarawera Falls. Hours later as the early morning progressed, mountain mists added to the atmospherics, typical of the light and weather patterns of the southern Bay of Plenty and Te Urewera.
We so enjoyed our time together. I arranged extra days so we could have the whole week off to make the most of our time which we spent on the Tarawera River, after arranging access permits.
I revisited old hunting areas from my primary school days but we also saw country that was new to both of us. We stretched ourselves physically, walking most days and if the adage ‘Use it or lose it’ is true, we certainly used it to the max every day.
Even though each day ended with more than the usual aches and pains, there was also intense satisfaction and knowledge gained beyond the usual day-to-day activities.
We need to save our dollars for these trips, mainly for fuel, but the reward is that we’ve done and learnt so much that’s new. We love revisiting old, familiar locations because they always look fresh in different weather conditions. New sights are interesting too, even if we need permits to access private lands or property to see them.
These adventures bring joy and satisfaction in knowing that if we maintain a level of activity slightly beyond what we’re usually capable of, it becomes the norm. When we put our minds to it and consciously push those self-limiting fences back, we can keep them at a distance for as long as possible. They will close in soon enough if we let them.
Gee, it was tough getting out of bed this morning. I’ve been getting up and out at 4.00am this week to claim my spot at the balloon festival. It’s happening thanks to a most supportive and understanding boss/colleague and I’m truly grateful and appreciative.
It’s also made for longer days at work – not so much to make up the hours, but more to keep the projects on target and to keep ahead of others in downstream processes.
Still, it’s worth getting out and on site for the morning’s photography session, especially now that I can sleep in later and later as the darker mornings roll on in. Yay for autumn and winter which also means earlier evenings too, so I get to catch up on some sleep during the week for four nights at least.
Walking barefoot over a rough track in the darkness is always a welcome challenge – trying to keep out of the gorse, and dodging tree roots in varying degrees of elevation above ground level so they don’t connect with the foot bones. It means I’m not on a factory floor between super-noisy machines, walking at a brisk pace everywhere, standing at a workstation or draped over a machine measuring stuff for anything between 9.5 and 12 hours per shift.
Traversing the wood copse in the dark means I can walk the sand and mud flats on a low tide during the pre-dawn light. I can plan my track through them so I’m not walking on a virgin canvas that the tide has so thoroughly cleaned and cleared for me. On a high tide, I can enter the water and walk out to thigh depth, turn, and look inland for my offshore-onshore image. The feel of the water, the resistance as I wade and the sand beneath is like a beautiful natural massage. It’s a tad cooler in winter though.
It also means the sounds of the surf and of feathered or finned species are predominant above the wind or waves. I love that. The only pressure I feel is to be aware of the light – its colour, the angle and intensity, and the direction relative to features that I can use in the images I already have in mind after planning them during the week.
Losing the sense of touch in the fingertips means that my typing is becoming worse than it already was. Being dyslexic makes things tough to start with; now the mixed up letters and words are entering the pages not only back to front, but sideways and on a third dimensional plane. The interface between what goes on inside my head and what comes out via the written or spoken word becomes totally illegible, sometimes even to me.
The walnuts are falling, hooray. Just to add to the weekend’s activities, we pick them off the ground, wash them and place them on drying racks for a month or so. On the bright side, our quail are now foraging the boundary hedgerows in groups that consist of three generations. The pheasants just do their thing along the same hedgerows, and are now noticeably more relaxed with us being out there.
My greatest support is my ever-patient and tolerant wife.
She arrived on the scene knowing photography would take some priority in our lives. This may involve her waiting in or around the car for hours alone while I could be metres or kilometres away. Having said that, though, she does see a lot of new country, and country not many people see. Sometimes we go to places where no one else has been at that time of day.
It is usually ‘naturally’ silent. Natural silence occurs when human noises are just not there. The sea crashes onto coastlines of sand or stone, the wind causes waves on the river to lap against the bank. Natural silence occurs in synergy with wildlife – whether clad in feathers, fins and scales or fur. The cries and calls of all fauna make the dynamics complete and create my happy place.
My wife enjoys the outdoors more each year, and as we make a concerted effort to avoid crowded places, we see more of New Zealand together and this helps us to grow and appreciate each other all the more.
She has her roles as I do, both at home and away from home and this works well for us. Looking after each other means being aware, becoming one and using our senses, observing body language and making decisions ahead of when we normally would to ease the other’s pain where possible.
At home, she looks after our hut and all within, with my assistance at times when she’s not up to it. My role is outdoors – tending our hut and rental property with its fruit trees, gardens, and ageing orchard house.
My wife also tends to my wellbeing and ensures I have meals, clothing, and meds sorted using dispensing aids so I only have to take a portion and never have to wonder or worry what they are. (Handy when I’m away.)
Because of my driven nature, keeping the reins tight so I don’t overdo stuff in the weekends can be a mission. Either I attempt to be more aware of the pain and stiffness that’ll arrive in shiploads in two to three days’ time and ride it out silently or, thinking of her worrying about me, I’ll stop and save some tasks for the following weekend. To be honest, it’s usually the first option, although she does pull rank and stand there, stating the obvious so it’s tools away for me.
I need my photography outlet as an antidote to a stressful working week in an environment that is intent on keeping production machinery in operation, concurrent with any modifications to plant and people safety. Each 10 to 12 hour shift often feels like minutes, yet can also feel like forever.
I have to call on the power of the mind, and the constant drive to man up internally (as I’ve had to do since childhood) can be tough. Emotions are often stifled at source. My motto is: Keep the faith, keep it real, refocus; continue serving, keep striving and never ever give up. This has worked for me and will continue to work, because it has to.
When things get heavy at work; when life gets a little too much, my wife’s generous soul and kind heart keep me hooked and anchored to our wee part of this earth. We don’t talk much, though we are constantly on the same wavelength and often have the same thought simultaneously.
Co-dependence is necessary, as there is no one else to provide assistance – no family members or friends we can call on. This is rarely an issue as we’ve been this way all our married life, and this is how it will continue to be.