Land of the Long White Cloud
On a snowy Tuesday morning I boarded an airplane and watched the frozen landscape of Sweden fall below the clouds. A few hours later, I boarded the next flight in London, and 12 hours later we landed in a misty Hong Kong. After a slight delay, I finally boarded the last flight, headed for the land of the long white cloud.
Flying over the Philippines, I watched the sun set below a breathtaking display of clouds, shifting in shades of golden purple and blue. Next morning I watched the sun rise over Auckland and just before landing I saw a big rainbow appear so close it almost felt as though I was dreaming, and it certainly feels like a blessing for this journey!
New Zealand is called Aotearoa in Maori, meaning “land of the long white cloud.” I grew up in the Bay of Plenty from the age of 4, and we lived for the first few years in Mount Maunganui before moving out on the countryside, starting an avocado orchard outside of Katikati. I returned to Sweden at the age of 16 to connect with my roots up north and learn Swedish, and ended up staying for 10 years.
My Kiwi dad Steven and best childhood friend Rachael came to meet me at the airport and after the long flight it felt so good to finally relax. Steven and I haven’t seen each other for almost 10 years!
Back at the avocado orchard everything has grown so much since I was last there, and I received a warm welcome from all the cats and dogs.
So much has happened these past 10 years and I am not the same girl who left New Zealand. I am a woman now. I have known my fair share of storms over the years – storms that have made me a bit wild and crooked at the edges – storms that have made me stronger, and made me into the woman I am today.
It is late summer now and everything is in full bloom. Here on the orchard there is a bounty of fruit to enjoy – avocados, nashis, grapes, apples, cranberries and lemons. It feels surreal going from Swedish winter to Kiwi summer! I am slowly adjusting to the climate. It feels so good to walk barefoot on the earth again, and hear all the sounds of the birds that I grew up listening to.
Catching up with family and friends. Returning to sanctuaries of old. Swimming at the beach. Taking it all in. Returning home...
Both Sweden and New Zealand are always going to be a part of my roots, and now the time has finally come for me to go home to the land that raised me.