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Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Yes, as I wrote on my daily blog the other day, summer has arrived. Not as hot, so far, as last year, its arrival had been more gentle. Tomatoes and basil, strawberries, cold drinks outside on the deck, early mornings and (relatively*) late nights are all reminding me of the time of year. So too is the sun. I set off on a walk yesterday, determined to charge up and down the hills of my suburb, until – ten minutes in – I realised I’d forgotten to put on sunscreen, and had to turn back. Exercise is important, but sunburns are dangerous, and so a reminder to my fellow Kiwis and Australians – don’t forget to cover up!

This all meant I needed to change A Separate Life’s livery. The pohutukawa flowers are already making an appearance and will be in full seasonal bloom here in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping I won’t miss them.

* after visiting Iceland and Norway last year in June, it’s hard to be surprised by daylight at 9 pm.

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I promised spring photos last week, but I made you wait, so I apologise. Our oak tree exploded from a bare tree one weekend with only one or two new leaves, to full coverage by the end of the week. Of course, now it’s even further on than the photo below, but I’m too lazy to go downstairs and take a new one!

P1090983 oak tree spring leaves

I managed to catch some of the tulips and other flowers in the city gardens with my camera, along with families, tourists, and lots of elderly visitors enjoying the colours.

The spring flowers in my in-laws garden are blooming too, so I took some quick photos there too.

The young tui* have been torturing me in the oak tree, sitting there chirping and chatting away, but as soon as I get close with my camera, they fly away.

Finally, warmer temperatures are alternately battling with some last-ditch efforts by winter. It’s that awkward time of year when we don’t know what to wear, and whatever I choose is bound to be wrong.

* As I can’t tell Grammarly, I’ll remind you. Tui is a Maori word, and so doesn’t have an “s” to pluralise it.

 

 

 

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We’re in the last phase of winter, or is it the first phase of spring? Over the weekend, the only deciduous tree on our property sprang into life. On Sunday morning, I saw the first leaves emerge, and by the afternoon there were a few more. Its branches are bursting with buds ready to burst. Spring is, if not sprung, then about to spring.

The neighbours, after huge renovations last year, planted a tree that has blossomed most gorgeously right beside our driveway, so I was thrilled to pop out there and play around with my camera. It was nice to snap away, after the winter when I was tortured by photos of beautiful flowers from my photography course classmates from the northern hemisphere.

I’m reminded too by Fbk that previously I have checked out the tulips in the gardens around this time of year. Maybe next week you’ll get some tulip photos.

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After an invitation had been impulsively given and accepted on Friday, Saturday saw us venture over the hill for the first time in months. We spent the morning at home, while I baked a cake for dinner; though if I’m honest it wasn’t the baking that took several hours, it was having to make multiple trips to the supermarket twice to get ingredients I kept forgetting!

We usually drive over “the hill” (the Remutaka Range) in the morning or early afternoon, and it was a treat to drive over in the late afternoon, enjoying the different light on the distant Wairarapa plains as we wound our way down from the summit. We tracked cloud formations being caught by the setting sun in a halo effect but, of course, just as we drove through the little town (which uncannily reminded me of my hometown on a wintry Saturday night in the 1970s) and out the other side, and turned into their driveway lined with promising daffodils, that gorgeous light disappeared.

Daffodils

An early sign of spring

The man of the house was busy cooking up a curry storm in the kitchen, so pre-dinner champagne and olive oil from the trees outside (accompanied by a stunning sunset) flowed into a delicious dinner (curries, and very successful orange almond cake), lively conversation, and even the rugby result was easier to take when we commiserated together.

P1090193

The next morning, after a late but yummy breakfast at the little wine town’s stylish hotel, we said goodbye and, with an hour or two to fill before a busy afternoon scheduled back in Wellington, drove down to the coast, through vibrant green farmland under sunny skies, reminiscent of the land where I grew up, though newborn lambs were the only thing missing from the winter scene, still a few weeks too early for them to arrive. We drove to the end of the road, and – along with others basking in the sunny morning – mucked around on the beach, enjoying just being out in nature, and I, of course, played around with my camera and tripod.

It was tempting to stay, but duty called, so we packed up, drove back along the country roads through the flat green fields, slowing to pass dairy cows and calves wandering along the road (such a New Zealand scene) and their Filipino farm workers, before we headed back over the hill that seems to separate everyday life from freedom, friendship, and leisure.

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  • I’m writing this as rain is falling on the skylight just a couple of feet above my head, and there’s something lovely about that.
  • It is starting to get dark outside already, around 5 pm, and by the time it is 7.30 pm it feels like the middle of the night. Whilst I have been quite liking the cosy nature of this, I am quite pleased that it is almost the shortest day, and whilst the colder weather will hit, at least it won’t be dark so early!
  • Combine a lot of rainy or misty dull days, very short days and long nights, and the fact I’ve been sick (cold/cough) for the past two weeks, I’ve been getting cabin fever.
  • I have been binge-watching the final season of The Good Wife, when really during this gloomy period there was no excuse for not reading. I have only read 12 books this year, and I’m one behind schedule on my self-imposed Goodreads Reading Challenge.
  • The crappy weather has also put paid to any exciting photography options, and now there are no leaves left on our oak tree, photographic opportunities are more limited. Though I bought some tulips the other day, so played with my camera this afternoon when it was still light.

P1080869 tulips blk ed

 

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Yesterday we got up early (for a Saturday), filled the car with essentials, and headed off, out of the city and up the valley where the Hutt River skirts the highway, its willows rapidly losing all their leaves, into the countryside. It was a gloomy, dark morning, and the rain that was forecast later in the day seemed to have arrived early – it was light, almost misty, and we hoped it would be different at our destination.

We passed the tempting $10 Breakfast sign at the café at the bottom of the hill, tempted to stop for bacon and eggs and a decent coffee, thinking about texting our friends to say we might just be half an hour late. But we didn’t, and we drove up into the winding Rimutakas, up into the cloud, and then dropped back into the Wairarapa beyond, a bit perturbed to find that the weather was no better, and maybe even worse.

We arrived at Alders, site of previous adventures in better weather, where we were due to help our friends harvest their olives. The sight of Peony and her bedraggled sister, both soaked through, supported my decision to bring my bought-for-Iceland-and-previously-only-ever-worn-there rain pants, grateful for my bought-for-Iceland-but-perfect-in many-places fleece and rain jacket, and pleased that my husband had thought to bring our gumboots (and later even more pleased he unwittingly gave me the pair without the hole in the sole).

Our hosts/overseers had thoughtfully provided gloves and plenty of purpose-bought rakes that easily strip the olives from the branches, and we stuck into the work, getting wet not so much from the rain which eased off and just turned to mist, but from the very wet olive trees, and only slightly hampered by steamed-up glasses. With a very efficient crew of workers this year, and even though the trees are so much bigger than when we first went about seven or eight years ago, it was only a few quick hours later that we were told they had enough olives (8-900 kgs or a ton), and sodden, we retreated back to the house to dry off, grateful for the wine, hearty lunch of Indian dahls and curries, and cheerful conversation after a job well done.

Previous olive harvest posts here and here.

 

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It’s the last day of April today, and it feels like it. It is cooler, and I pulled out some winter clothes this morning to venture out. A cup of hot tea at breakfast is very welcome now, instead of the simple glass of water I’ve had for months.

Mist has hung about our hills all day, obscuring the view, hiding other parts of the city across the gorge, including even the streetlights I can normally see from my window. The streets are lined with fallen orange leaves, which surprised me given that our city is very green, dominated by the evergreen natives, with few flashes of autumn colour. Time to change my blog header.

It’s dark already, only just after 6 pm, and the idea of curling up in bed later under a warm duvet with a book or my iPad is appealing. Yes, the seasons have changed, and winter is almost here.

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