When Whiona was young and the Beatles hadn't quite split up her family built a little T-framed house on the outskirts of Arrowtown.
While the house was being built Whiona, her sister and her brother raided the next door neighbour's orchard of green fruit and pretended to find gold in the Arrow River.
Mrs Johnson was the next door neighbour. She let the young family get their water from her tap. She was close to 100 years old (or that's how she seemed) and was married to Arrowtown's doctor before he died. He was the first man in Arrowtown to own a car.
The doctor was called Dr Johnston with a T...this meant she didn't really have to change her name when she married him.
Note: it could have been the other way around. She may have had the T and he may have been without. Whiona was only little and it was a long time ago. Whatever the truth was, it was a very interesting coincidence for an eight year old to think about.
Mrs Johns(t)on was possibly the last person alive who was born in Macetown - an old gold mining village upstream from Arrowtown on the Arrow River.
Macetown's goldrush started in 1863 and at its height about 500 miners worked in the area. It's population was a steady 200 from 1875 to the turn off the century but by 1916 there were only 11 people left.
It became a ghost town in the early 1930s after a final quartz mining "boom" during The Deppression.
Te Araroa winds its way to Macetown over a big hill that is appropriately called Big Hill. We were on a bit of a pilgrimage as we puffed over what most Brits would call a mountain. Whiona had always wanted to come and see where Mrs Johns(t)on came from.
As we approached what is left of the town I looked beside me and saw the wild Gooseberries. They were small but nearly sweet. Some of them were turning red.
We started picking.
Then Whiona found the Black Currants. Then the Red Currants. By the time we got to Mrs Johns(t)on's place we had about a pound (400 grms) of fresh fruit.
We set up camp, had a wash...it's important to be presentable for special occasions...and set-to making tea...and pudding.
Note: tea is what New Zealanders call the evening meal. We also call it dinner even though dinner is often lunch and tea is an afternoon event with biscuits. Confused?
As I cleaned out our coffee pot at the river I smelt the Spearmint. It was growing wild right up the bank. Beside smaller clumps of Oregano. Both plants were flowering. Both found their way into our tea.
For tea at Mrs Johns(t)on's we had:
Couscous with olives, Parmesan, fresh Oregano and Spearmint.
For pudding we had Mrs Johns(t)on's Bitter Fruit Fool with fresh Spearmint and grated Whitaker's Dairy Milk Chocolate.
If you're interested - here's the recipe...
About a pound of sour berries and currants
All the sugar you can find in your pack - about 2 teaspoons.
About a dessert spoon of Murray's dad's honey.
A dash of water.
A sachet of Chocolate Instant Pudding
A random amount of dried milk powder
Gently stew the fruit, sugar, honey, water and Spearmint then leave to soften. Once the skin on the Gooseberries has shriveled and the mix is only warm pour on the Instant Pudding. (I'm not telling you how to make Instant Pudding...read the packet.)
Shave the chocolate with your awesome Leatherman Skeletool Multi-knife.
We ate sitting on small piles of schist in the summer heat. We were dressed in long-sleaved and legged head-to-toe thermals while swarms of sandflies tried to have tea too...us.
Before tea we had picked a large posey of flowers. Large Daisies, Lupins, Oregano, Rosehips, Yarrow, Dianthus and something yellow.
It was nice a nice way to remember Mrs