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Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

The light is waking me earlier. It stays later. It’s still only August, which in the south is often the coldest time of the year – or at least, it was in the 1970s and 80s – but is not here. Here, in the south of the north, we don’t have lambs reminding us that winter will end and summer is coming, as I had every year as I was a child. But we do have the trees. I’ve only seen one kowhai in flower so far. They will come.

But the magnolias? They’re out in force, in my neighbourhood, in my father-in-law’s old neighbourhood and on the way to his new retirement home only five minutes from us, and next to the place where we park our car when we were visiting him in hospital (see below). Their colours make me smile after months of unrelenting green. Most are pink, some are white, one – which I might photograph for another tree week – is a gorgeous deep plum colour.

Other trees, such as this one, is still firmly in winter mode. I actually think I like it better in winter – its nicely pruned shape, and its stark white branches. I’ve often meant to use it for a regular tree post, so I’m sneaking it in here. (Besides, I haven’t done a tree post since June, so the least I can do now is include two!)

Our oak tree is starting to form buds, so it might soon be time to change my blog header (which shows its last leaf). But it would be easy to miss these signs in Wellington, a city that is firmly enveloped in evergreen trees and ferns, and where we have to make an effort to notice the changing of the seasons. In some ways, that makes me appreciate them even more.

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

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There are some days when the colours seem brighter, the air fresher, and the earth and sea and sky seem more alive. Today is one of those days. Yesterday we had mild temperatures, but the day was quiet, with mist hanging around at the top of the valley, dampening noise, spirits, and – in my case at least – activity.

But this morning, Monday greeted us with the brightest of greens, and the bluest of blue sky. Temperatures are warmer too, edging into almost-summer temperatures (high teens/low 20s C) here in Wellington, though elsewhere in the country they are getting full-fledged mid-summer temperatures this week. We drove out to visit my father-in-law on the road that edges the shore (tracking the fault-line), and the harbour looked glorious.

As often happens at this time of year, Wellingtonians desperate for summer to arrive over-estimated the temperature. The Husband was happy in shorts and a T-shirt, but I saw many women in summery, sleeveless tops, and one even in a boob-tube (tube top). I had to smile at this optimism, this wholehearted embracing of temperatures that tell us to get out of our winter coats and woollen tops!

We stopped for lunch at a cafe on the way home, where people were enjoying their lunch outside in the sun, though forever cautious about UV rays and the damage they can do, we sat inside.

And on the drive home, even a pohutukawa tree was caught up in the exuberance of the season, beginning to flower several weeks earlier than usual. It reminded me that it will soon be time to change my blog header, to the vibrant red pohutukawa flowers of the season.

That said, the early flowering of the pohutukawa tree made me sad too. Climate change is urging it to bloom early. The warm temperatures we are experiencing have come from across the Tasman Sea from Australia, where they are suffering major, early bushfires that are destroying lives and livelihoods. The colourful sunsets that have resulted here are a sombre reminder that the beauty we see is a tragedy for others.

 

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New Zealand is a pretty small country, and I’ve travelled quite a lot of it. But when my sister rang a week or so ago and asked if we wanted to join her (and her husband and Charlie) for a few days at a town we’d never visited, we jumped at the opportunity.

I love a road trip. Travelling in the middle of school holidays is something we usually avoid like the plague, but as we were driving mid-week it wasn’t a problem. We drove familiar roads and unfamiliar roads, enjoying the scenery. We saw native plants and trees, and exotics showing off their spring blossoms. One town seemed to have adopted the rhododendron as their official plant of choice, and they were all flowering at the same time, lining the roads into and out of the town, and filling both public and private gardens.

On the road, we were surrounded by lush, green fields and hills, dotted with dairy cows on the plains, and sheep as the hills got higher and more rugged. Occasionally, further north, we saw goats, and wild turkeys, llamas and alpacas.

We stopped for lunch at the town at the base of the ski-fields on Mt Ruapehu (an active volcano) in the centre of the island. For a day right in the middle of the school holidays, it was surprisingly peaceful. Everyone must have been up on the mountain, swishing down the slopes, enjoying the last days of this year’s ski season.

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Mt Ruapehu

Raglan, our destination, is a small but well known coastal town, popular for its surf beach. One afternoon we headed out to the beach to watch Charlie (who had already been on a horse trek that morning) surf the waves, along with about 50 others. The learners stayed close to the shore, but others hung further out, looking for the bigger waves. Whilst it was a warm day for this time of year, the sea would have been icy cold, so Charlie’s wetsuit was essential. Her mother and I played around with our cameras, and I managed to get a shot of her up on her board, and a second shot as she did a dramatic fall into the water. When I zoomed in, I could see her face was covered with a huge grin. She came back exhilarated and not at all exhausted, despite battling the waves for some hours.

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As it was my sister’s birthday, we had champagne on the deck of their rented house, went out for a special dinner, and generally over-indulged with coffees and cooked breakfasts and avocadoes brought from their orchard.

It was a quick but hilly walk into the town for a coffee and look around the shops and galleries, and the following day we climbed down to the bottom of a waterfall and with much less enthusiasm back up, although the rain put paid to my plans of walking the track that went right in front of the house where we were staying. Instead, Charlie and I played table tennis in the garage, but we never did get around to having the darts match we’d planned.

And in between we relaxed, read and chatted, or just enjoyed the views from the bach.

All too soon we had to leave. School, work, and real life called for us all. We decided to take it easy on the way home, and so detoured along the west coast to a town I’ve only visited once before. It too is nestled under another volcano, which didn’t emerge from the clouds hiding it until we were well on the way home. I caught a view of the top only through the back window of our car. Isn’t it always the way?

Mt Taranaki before the cloud lifted

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