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One of the nicest things about coming home after our Christmas away was being greeted by our favourite trees. As soon as we came off the motorway, we saw pohutukawa in bloom, and as we turned into our street, it felt as if they were forming a guard of honour on both sides of the street, welcoming us home.

In the north of New Zealand, where we had spent Christmas, and where pohutukawa originally grew naturally, their blooms had fallen weeks ago, so I had missed their green and red Christmas cheer. There are very few in the South Island, where I grew up, as I was reminded when we had my niece and her family visit last week. “So that’s what all those red trees are!” she said.

They have been planted profusely and thrive here in Wellington, and late December/January is full pohutukawa season. Hence my blog header at this time of year. A transplant from the South, pohutukawa have featured in some major events in my life, and I have taken them to heart, as many of you who have read me for a few years or more will know. So a few days after arriving back home, when I went on a walk on my usual route, I snapped away at the trees I now love. I noticed the gold tips on the blooms – red, green, and gold, very seasonal indeed. There’s the bloody aftermath of their flowering too – the red footpaths and gutters of the fallen flowers, and the patterns they create on top of cars parked under the trees themselves.

Note: Indian readers might recognise the name of this street. I live in a suburb filled with names from India, and its surrounding countries. It was originally settled in the mid-late 1800s by people who had lived and worked in India.

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

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It’s summer. It’s late December between Christmas and New Year. I’m with family. Normal transmission shall resume later this week.

Some snaps from the last few days:

Our view at dinner tonight
Dinner at the beach
A Christmas Day walk
My swimming spot yesterday
Christmas Eve sunset
A tui

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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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