Wop-wops, warm breezes, and cicada songs

Between my horse’s ears: looking over paddocks, bush, and mountains in the middle of New Zealand back country.

There’s a moment, some time in the weeks before Christmas, when you suddenly realise it’s summer. The sun is hanging heavy in the air. The cicadas are singing of sultry days and muggy nights. And, if you’re in dairy country, rye grass pollen is everywhere—down your gumboots, in your socks, and up your nose. It startles the goats when you sneeze.

Ah, the promise of summer. Remember when summer meant summer holidays? No school, no work, just magic?

Magic was, and still is, spending those timeless days with my cousin. Growing up, you’d find her place in the dictionary next to ‘wop-wops’—near the end of a looong gravel road, surrounded by paddocks, hills, and bush. The only neighbours were sheep. My uncle used to let us know dinner was ready with a whistle that echoed down the valley. You know, the same way he’d call in the dogs. He sorta needed to because oh boy did we roam.

We’d camp in the dell next to the old shearers’ quarters and the stand of trees known as Lothlorian. We’d ride inner tubes down the river, towing jandals and towels in plastic bags (to wear on the trek back up to do it all again). We’d take the horses to the river for a wash and sit on their soapy bare backs while they pawed water all over everything. We’d take the dogs and go bush—naming all the caves, clearings, and hollows along the way. We’d read stacks of books, watch stacks of movies, and tell each other stories. And we wouldn’t just meet the elves and dryads and naiads—we were them.

Last month, I was lucky enough to spend another magical summer holiday with my cousin. It doesn’t really matter what we get up to really—the best thing is simply hanging out with one of my favourite people. But yes, in between the lazing around reading books, of course we had adventures!

A 1-minute snapshot of our summer holiday: quad biking, horse riding, going bush with the dog, swimming in the river, toasting marshmallows, and sitting on top of the world watching the sun set over the bay.

It’s no coincidence I was with my cousin when my In the Heart of the Wild collection came to life. We may have ridden there on quad bikes rather than horses, and we may be a few revolutions of the sun older—but the magic and laughter was exactly the same.

If I could bottle it, I would.

Instead, I did the next best thing: I painted it.

Five artworks hang on a wall. They all depict wild landscapes with a nature spirit-like figure.

This summer, give the gift of enchantment, freedom, and nostalgia. Imagined on a sunny afternoon in the middle of New Zealand back country. Packaged with warm breezes and cicada songs…and this story inside, as a sweet little whisper.

In the Heart of the Wild: a collection of limited edition fine art prints. Available in 2 sizes. Giclée printed on 100% cotton rag fine art paper. Hand-signed and numbered by me.

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