For me life has been a moving experience. Six different schools in four different countries before I reached my teens pretty much set the tone. However, if pressed I’d say that ‘home’ for our family was Howick, Auckland, New Zealand.This once sleepy and semi-rural seaside village was the base from which our family set out on various adventures and returned to between these escapades. My father could trace his family’s roots there back to the time of the early settlers, so that’s where we settled when Dad finally eschewed his wandering life and I was well into my teens. And it was there I forged friendships that endure to this day.

Today, Howick has been swallowed up into the sprawling suburbia of Greater Auckland. Where there were once open fields filled with cows and mushrooms and muddy creeks filled with eels there are now supermarkets, parking lots and houses as far as the eye can see. Such is the nature of progress — as opposed to the progress of nature.

Howick’s highest point is Stockade Hill, which overlooks the main street and is named for the fortification that once stood there as a refuge for Settlers who might come under attack from the historical owners of the land. I’m not sure if it was ever required as a haven for the residents of old but for as long as I can remember it was a place retreat for me. From boyhood to adulthood I spent many hours atop that hill looking out, looking forward and and looking back. Yet, as the landscape around me changed with the years, I discovered that, despite the wisdom inevitably garnered over time through life lessons learned, I remained the pretty much the same person I ever was throughout it all.

The words of this song,CHOCOLATES AND ROSES, (included on my retrospective AFTER THE DAM BROKE), were written one afternoon while seated on a bench on that hill. All of it is true although Jesse is not her real name. For those not old enough to remember, Martin is Martin Luther King and Bobby is Robert Kennedy.

I hope this contemplative tune takes you to your own private place.