In this ripening time of late summer, I travelled to Nelson and visited an old friend. She’s a gardener, and an art dealer, and in her garden I spotted this old seat.
There it sits, mellowed by age, rendered even more beautiful than when it was new. ‘Just like our friendship’, I said. We met on a ship that was sailing from England to New Zealand, just as it crossed the equator. I was returning, with my husband, from my first overseas travel. My friend, a young Danish bride, was immigrating with her Danish/Kiwi husband. We were beautiful couples, eager for adventure, attending summer schools, exploring art, music and literature. The years passed, and the marriages cracked and broke. We two women lived in different cities, but in midlife found each other once more, and the friendship entered a new phase. Eventually both husbands died, and on each occasion we supported one another through the complexities of a second time of loss.
Through phone calls and visits my friend and I continue to enjoy the richness of lasting connection. We remember each others’s youth, vividly, and even though we now bear the marks of age, our young selves will dance out at unexpected moments.
The garden seat was made out of recycled telephone pole cross-pieces. The craftsman cleaned off the lichen and marks of age, and sanded the wood, shaping it into something new. With pride and affection, my friend, who has the ability to sit still for long periods of time, placed it in her wild and rambling garden. And now, lichen-marked once more, it holds the invitation for two old friends to sit and talk about art, family, people, writing, and whatever facet of life drifts into the spaces between.