To show rebirth and future promise, I was photographing a new-born Syrah leaf in a vineyard on Roy Hill above Trinity Hill Winery in Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand's North Island.
|Rain drop covered Syrah leaf. Hawke's Bay region, North Island, New Zealand.|
And here comes Matthew Stobart, a friendly vineyard worker (I never actually met an unfriendly New Zealand vineyard worker) on a mower.
He turned off the engine and asked how I was doing.
I replied my usual: "When I count my blessings, excellent."
He said likewise. It turns out we both are immigrants with amazingly parallel stories.
Matthew Stobart: "I escaped from Zimbabwe in 2001, with my parents, when the government took our farm. We got out with just two boxes of things. Everything in two boxes."
|Mowing the vineyard grass. Trinity Hill winery, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.|
Janis: "The Communists arrested my father and tossed him in jail because we owned land. Landowners were criminals. Fortunately, friends broke my dad out of prison."
Matthew: "We're lucky to get out in time. Many farmers didn't. Now they're stuck with no farm, no pension, nothing."
Janis: "After hiding in the forest for months, my father and mother packed a few things in an ox-drawn cart, buried some valuables in the forest and left our farm forever."
Matthew: "Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Africa. Now they can't feed their own people."
Janis: "Latvia had the best standard of living of all the Soviet states, yet at the end of the Soviet Union, it was very difficult to even get a bottle of milk without connections."
Matthew: "Things are good here. The people are great. The government is stable. Now my wife and I own a house. We're doing all right now."
|Working at Trinity Hill winery, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.|
Vineyard Worker and Landscaper
Trinity Hill Winery
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.