April. A month in transition. This year winter still hasn’t arrived, but summer’s not here any more either. That was hard to accept a few weeks ago, when I was sitting outside at a vineyard* enjoying a 25 degree day with my mother and sister and niece and brother-in-law. The mountains in the distance were capped with snow, but we were inland in the South Island, so that’s not so unusual. The day before, driving south from the airport in shaky old Christchurch in the late afternoon, winter was hovering ominously – the sun low and the shadows long.
I’d forgotten too how big the sky is out on the plains, and the simple beauty of green pastures, a blue sky, silvery clouds, and trees with turning leaves, yellow and orange and the occasional red. We don’t see the turning season in Wellington, the green city, so it is always a pleasure to come across willows and poplars and other exotics with their fiery colours protesting the move into autumn. Not native to this land, and rare in Wellington, but these immigrants – like the farmers farming the land I drove though, and my own ancestors – have been here so long. They are now as much part of this landscape as the white, woolly sheep and those mountains to the west, and are as dear to my heart.