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Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Often in New Zealand we are so hopeful for spring to arrive that we decide 1 September is the first day of spring, but it hasn’t really officially sprung yet, and truth be told, there is always at least one more winter storm to arrive before spring really sets in in October, but there are signs, and it might be premature of me, but I think right now they’re worth celebrating.

On our morning walk this morning, the tui were all going crazy, flying in and out of the vibrant yellow kowhai trees in flower, often the first sign of spring when everything else is grey and bare.

We had a rough weekend, but I went out on the deck today to try to get a shot of one of the aforesaid tui, as two of them were chattering and clacking in our tree, and although they flew off, it was warm enough to wander around in my socks and snap away some of the lovely camellia flowers in our garden, also a harbinger of spring.

As we’re getting back to normal after having a winter filled with our own travel and with travellers arriving here, I feel the urge to spring clean and start afresh.

The first asparagus spears have peaked through the soil in my friend’s garden, and I can’t wait for more to arrive, and to find them regularly in the supermarket, as I eat seasonally, and I’m getting a little tired of the winter vegetables which have all been so expensive this year.

And as I write this, I look out at the wonderful spring light that is shining through our new fence on the driveway, and through the macrocarpa trees, and feel hopeful.

I know that spring can also bring other things, including fierce winds and dust and pollen and allergies, and the temperatures will stay low for a long time yet. But today there is a hope that it is coming, and that lifts my spirits.

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(The second in an occasional series)

  1. Being warm in bed listening to the rain on the roof
  2. Watching a good storm
  3. A night in with a good bottle of red wine
  4. Boots and woolly socks
  5. No guilt going to a movie on a Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon, or morning, or … )
  6. When it gets dark early you can’t see what needs doing outside
  7. Wearing layers to hide under, with lots of flattering black, is acceptable if not compulsory
  8. Knowing it’s going to end (just not too soon, please, as I’m quite enjoying it)

 

ngaio winter

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I have a confession to make. I had a two-month break from going to the gym. I was disrupted by Christmas and New Year, the terrible weather, and an appointment with a surgeon about my knee (though surgery was discounted, that makes it more difficult in some ways), and then basic inertia set in. I’ve been back the last few weeks, but I’m procrastinating about a decision I have to make about the gym. To stay, or to leave. I have an emotional connection with this small, quality group of gyms – one of the owners was my personal trainer when he was still qualifying as a physiotherapist, back at the turn of the century. And I enjoy the therapy of the drive around the bays to the gym, always different, always dramatic, regardless of whether it is fine or stormy, whether the sea is rough or calm.

These days I am taking my camera with me more frequently. So this morning, driving home after a good workout, I was pleased to see some yachts out on the water, with a large container ship moored further away. I braced myself against the wind, and tried some photos. But the sea, the hills and the sky all blended together a little too much, on this colourless morning.

Yachts on Wellington Harbour

I drove on, and as I came around into the inner harbour, I decided to try again. This is our little city on a cloudy morning, where the buildings hug the water and are framed by the hills. (I’m pleased to report the sun is out and the sky is now blue! But no, I’m not driving back to repeat the photo!) There were no cruise ships in the harbour, though there were two yesterday when it was warm and beautiful, so today we locals had it all to ourselves.

Wellington waterfront

 

In case you hadn’t already guessed, one of my photography challenges this week is to take a panorama. The other challenge was to take just one shot and use that. I guess it is supposed to encourage careful planning, deliberate framing, and accuracy. In keeping with the beachy theme, my one shot is below. I have to confess though that it involved no careful planning, only a little deliberate framing, and happily some accuracy! The husband and I headed north to an estuary one lunchtime this week, determined to make the most of a warm day, and enjoyed a picnic by the water. On the menu was bacon and egg pie, of course, and afterwards, I got my camera out. This little fellow was not upset that we didn’t share our lunch with him, and posed nicely. What could be more summery? Green grass, sand, and a seagull.

Seagull on grass

 

 

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Nineteen days into February, when in previous (almost as disappointing) years autumn was preparing to knock on the door, summer has decided to turn up for a visit. After a bit of gloom yesterday morning, and some overnight rain, we’re now basking in the second consecutive day of sun and warmth. I’m wearing a sunfrock for only the second time this year, and this morning I had breakfast out on the deck, enjoying the fact that I was not locked into an air-conditioned office like the rest of my friends.

I’d already resigned myself to the fact that summer this year was a bust and so, after many weeks of disappointment and disbelief and shock, I decided to relax and see the funny side.

I’m doing that elsewhere in my life too, where I’ve experienced similar emotions (and I suspect I’m not the only one). Frustration and anger are exhausting and can be upsetting, and the resultant swearing – although research says that it can be therapeutic – might be briefly satisfying but isn’t sustainable long term. So right now, I find I feel better instead when I can laugh and say, “Good grief!” and so I’m saying it multiple times a day this summer.

But not today – today I’m going to enjoy the moment, the sound of the cicadas outside, the blue sky, and the balmy temperatures.

 

Microblog_Mondays

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I have already complained about summer so far this year. By yesterday, we were fed up of hiding inside, and ventured out for a relaxed lunch at a local café. I didn’t realise I would get to wear my raincoat – recently purchased for inclement weather and temperatures later this year – would get an outing so soon. But it did. I am pretty sure that I could literally count the number of fine days we’ve had this summer on the fingers of one hand. Maybe that’s exaggerating – but I’d be confident in saying I could count them on the fingers of both hands. The combination of a fine, sunny day and a temperature of above 20 has been rare this year in Wellington. And whilst a few days ago I thought I was resigned to it, by today I’m feeling fed up and frustrated. Ironically, it is sunny and there is blue sky outside as I write this (although the temperature is under 20C), and it was fine enough (and the winds were mild enough) that I could go for a walk this morning too. The one thing I know is that it won’t last.

(We’re told that the excessive winds we’ve been experiencing this year, along with the dismal temperatures, are because the ocean temperature east of Australia this year is 4 degrees C above normal. That is so depressing.)

So when my photo challenge this week involved mirrors, I had an idea what to do. Yesterday, I took a shot of the reflection in the mirror in our dining room. I love that we can look at the mirror, and see the view outside. But yesterday, you can see, it was dark and gloomy. Today is much brighter, so I’ve superimposed yesterday’s shot onto a mirror, under the direct view outside the window today. It hasn’t quite worked the way I wanted, but here it is.

p1020148-mirror-composite

Oddly, as I was playing around, I caught this shot.

p1020143-bevelled-mirror

It turns out the bevel on the edge of the mirror reflected the reflection from the centre of the mirror of my much loved dangling birds from Vermont that hang in the middle of my window. If you look closely, you can see that the birds are also faintly reflected in the window. Dangling birds times three – bonus!

So I’m not sure of the two photos I prefer, and I know neither is perfect. I can also see that my windows need to be washed, but given the blustery storms we’ve been having, what’s the point? Anyway, both photos reflect life at my house.

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I frequently wax lyrical (or not so lyrical if I’m honest) about my love of the red splashes I see throughout our city at this time of year. I love the brilliant red blooms, and the promise they bring that summer is here and should stay awhile, and so always feel sad when I see the blooms fade and disappear, or drive past roads that have turned crimson as the flowers fall.

I think I’m appreciating them even more this year, simply as summer seems to have forgotten us, I’ll take whichever features of the season I can get.

So when my photo challenge for this week was “red,” I knew that I should take some photos of pohutukawa. I wanted something a little different, and I knew that taking a typical, close-up photo of the flowers wasn’t going to be possible, not with the winds that have been buffeting us all “summer” so far.

The view I’ve chosen is far from perfect. It’s not the perfect composition, or clarity, or light, or focus (it was very windy). I’m predominantly a travel photographer taking photos when I see them (or regretting it when I don’t) because it is very rare that I can (or will) return when the light is just right. (The only time I’ve done this is in Rome when we had the time to choose an evening to go back to the Colosseum just as the late sun hit it perfectly, causing it to glow.)

So I snapped this photo, as it is very representative of Wellington, showing pohutukawa blooms nestled among other buildings, rather than lining a northern beach. The fact that it was on the marae grounds (over the road from a shop I’d just been visiting) made it better, with the carving at the head of the wharenui, or meeting house, in the traditional red.

p1020095-red

I liked the combination of the Maori tradition and the pohutukawa (even though pohutukawa are not native to Wellington, they flourish here) for another reason too. The other challenge for the week was “land.” Maori have a very deep relationship to the land, and it is extremely important in their culture. The land I have a strong connection to is the land where first my parents and then my sisters and I grew up. It was flat, green and fertile, edging the ocean. As much as I love Wellington, I don’t have the same relationship here with the land. But the Maori do.

And for a bonus, third dose of kiwiness, I leave you with Split Enz singing “I see red.”

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Today, I realised it was Tuesday. “Hang on a minute,” I thought, “that means that yesterday was Monday, and that means Microblog Monday.” Yes, I completely forgot, as yesterday wasn’t really a day of the week, it was Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, the day when you don’t have to do anything, or you can go for a walk, or join the other millions at Boxing Day sales (we did briefly, but only because my husband was hankering for Indian food for lunch), or you can nap on the couch in the afternoon (also did this), or lie there watching old Dr Who episodes in anticipation of last night’s new Christmas Dr Who special. Yesterday, in fact, I remember walking past the stairs up to my almost-an-attic office and thinking, “no, I’ll do stuff there tomorrow,” without a speck of guilt, or a glimmer of realisation that Microblog Mondays were calling.

Personally, I’m glad Christmas is over, as all the hype dies down, and hopefully, now summer can begin. There can be walks and picnics and barbecues and summer salads, I can play around with my new camera, we can do some house maintenance, and get some Vitamin D (though not too much) in the sun, and – one of my favourite things about summer – stop hunching against the cold and wind, and stand tall and relaxed in some warmer weather. The usual New Year resolutions will occur, but that’s next week’s post for Microblog Mondays (as long as I don’t forget.)

But first, there’s the Christmas chocolate – oh, and the few mince pies left that I haven’t yet given away – to finish.

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