Ed’s letter: It’s been a bleak winter, but here comes spring!
Ihave had, to be honest, a bit of a bleak winter. In late May, after years of battling dementia, my mum died in a white hospital ward while the rain hammered outside. After that it just seemed to rain and rain and rain.
The motorways were dark and slick; everyone’s kids were sick. At home, the view out my window was of our soggy half-complete reno strung with dripping tarpaulins. It felt as if the whole project – no, the whole of my life – was stuck in the yellow clay that clung in clumps to the builders’ boots.
Fair to say, then, that I have been hanging out for winter to end, so it’s damn good to be sitting here putting the final touches to NZ House & Garden’s spring issue. It’s a magazine bursting with small seasonal pick-me-ups: bright linens, slim spears of asparagus, a red designer deck chair.
But it’s not really the images that make me feel better: it’s the people and their stories. The homemakers in this issue are wizards of domestic alchemy: they make dated interiors magically modern, turn bare fields into oases. They are people who know about change and how to make it happen.
These change-makers, like my running group mates, have their own style and their own speed. Some, like Lynda Hallinan whose country garden is on page 102, go at it with new-broom gusto and get it all done to an insane deadline. “I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a budget,” says Lynda. “What I did have was a wedding date and a biddable boyfriend with a swag of diggers and trucks.”
For others, like the Macfarlanes on page 112, the pace is more sedate. The family fit gardening in around the edges of a busy work and farming life. It is a feat at least as impressive as Lynda Hallinan’s instant garden makeover: the difference is that it happened over three generations and six decades.
A more realistic time frame – for those of us without diggers and farms – is that of Titirangi couple Matt and Misty, who spent one roller coaster year building a sleek, textured family home (page 16). They describe days of elation (when the framing went up), and times of frustration when progress was slow. But, like all my variously speedy running buddies, they got to the finish line in the end.
At my place, the weather report is predicting a few days without rain and some fine weather. The builders tell us the roof could be on by the end of the week. This morning I put a bottle of champagne in the fridge, and tonight I will stand with my husband Nick on the framed-up deck of our new home, in the evening sun, and toast the arrival of spring. Cheers!