Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Monday Miscellany

Queen Elizabeth II has been a constant in my life, and for millions of others around the world. She was Queen of New Zealand and is on our currency, mentioned in our passports. I played God Save the Queen on the piano to open a concert when I was a teenager (before I learned our own national anthem) and I can still play it by heart. I saw her when she was here in the 70s. I think it must have been 1977, when my family and I travelled to a city north of us, to see her and the Duke in a park in a bay. Afterwards, we wandered down to the nearby port, to marvel at the beautiful Royal Yacht Britannia in port. The Queen had an important role in New Zealand, as the relationship of the Maori people is with the Crown, not just the NZ government. Together, Māori and the Crown signed a Treaty in 1840 that saw us become a country – a very different relationship for NZ’s indigenous people than those of many other countries (though still complicated). And in the 1990s, she personally signed into legislation (the only piece of legislation in NZ signed specifically by her, not her representative) an apology to one of the Maori tribes, when a settlement was made between them and the Crown. She was 96 when she died; as a result I’m not sad. Instead, I’m glad she didn’t have a long period of illness, and went peacefully. That’s all any of us, royal or not, can hope for.

I am ruing the one that got away. After a winter and early spring full of storms and gloom, Friday was a beautiful day. I decided to grab my camera, and head to the Botannical Gardens, to see if I could snap some pictures of tui in the flowering kowhai. I positioned myself under a tall kowhai amassed in yellow flowers, and watched the tui – five or six of them – flitting from branch to branch, sucking the nectar from the flowers. I snapped away, turned my attention to some magnificent magnolia flowers and rhododendrons, then headed home. Later, I reviewed my pics on the computer, instead of first transferring them. There was one, a close up (thanks to my zoom lens) of a tui, upside down, with its beak in a kowhai flower. It was stunning, the eye was in sharp focus, the greens and blues of the tui a standout against the backdrop of pure, glorious, yellow. But as I went to copy it across to my computer, disaster struck. It has happened before, but never on this scale. To make the long story short, I lost all my photographs of the morning. I’ve since repaired and reformatted the chip, but I’m not sure if I can trust it. So now, I only have the memory of maybe the best photo I’ve ever taken of a tui. It still makes me smile. But I can’t brag about it – maybe it had to be seen to be believed, and I was the only one who saw it. To show what you’re missing, here is a shot of kowhai flowers from the same tree, and an uncooperative tui behind a bunch of flowers. I went back the next morning, but there was a bully tui chasing the others away. and this is the best shot I got. Still, the tree itself is gorgeous, isn’t it? And this is a small part of a tree that was covered in blooms. Yellow; the true colour of spring in Wellington.

Last but not least, I’m starting another blog! Yes, as if I don’t have enough already! For the record, there’s my x365 blog (which I’ve made private now that my name can be linked to it), my alphablog that I wrote before I started A Separate Life, my travelalphablog, this one of course, my 2018 daily blog, and my No Kidding blog elsewhere. I do love a good blogging project, and it’s been four years since I had a new one. It’s not original. Prompted by Dona’s year of daily blogs, and inspired again recently by Jess’s lovely post about The Book of Daily Delights, I thought I might start a blog noting things that make me happy. Hopefully it will delight you in turn. I probably won’t post every day, maybe once a week. But I intend to give each day a daily delight. Here’s the link to Mali’s Daily Delights.

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A shade tree

I haven’t joined the Tree Love crew since January, so a post is long overdue. As summer comes to an end here in New Zealand, I wanted to share a tree I loved on my last picnic. We went to this spot twice in March, and the first time I sat under this particular tree. There is a wooden seat there, though the next time we sat on the grass. It – and the others that rimmed the cove – provided welcome shade from the midday sun and NZ’s harsh cancer-causing UV rays, as we nibbled on summer picnic fare (bacon and egg pie), watched what was happening on the water – ferries, coastguard patrol, kayakers, snorkellers etc – and just enjoyed the tranquillity of this sheltered bay.

It is of course a pohutukawa.

And just to put it in context, here are some photos of and from the bay.

Another in the Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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We’ve had a very windy spring, and on calm days it has either been raining, or there have been reasons why I haven’t had time to walk. So I have spent a lot of time exercising inside, as my ears hurt and my eyes stream if I walk in the wind. I use a selection of videos, and have recently found one that steps and dances to Latin music, which has been fun (but made me feel very uncoordinated). So today, when I had the morning free, and there was absolutely no wind, I took a longer walk outside for the first time in ages. I didn’t puff up the hills, and my legs weren’t sore, so my inside dance and high-intensity-low-impact workouts have been paying off.

I didn’t walk over the hill to look down into the harbour, but instead wound my way around the back streets, avoiding the village shops (and café, so I wasn’t tempted by a coffee), and renewing my acquaintance with the gardens that have moved from their colourful spring flourishes into the lush green of early summer. The morning light was soft, but lit the branches of cabbage trees and pohutukawa highlighting their wiggly patterns and making me smile.

I smiled too as I passed the local kindergarten, to see the gate closed, and four little boys standing peering through the iron bars, looking just like mini-prisoners. Their freedom will come soon, as we move into the summer holidays next week.

The first blooms are appearing on the pohutukawa too, though most are still a few weeks away from “full pohutukawa.” After days of gloomy mist, the vibrancy of the red was a happy reminder that this year is ending, and a new year is about to begin. I’m not sure how we got here so soon. But after the gloom of the last two years, I’m ready to be hopeful about next year.

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