Monday, September 27, 2010

Tui serenade.

'Keow, Keow', sings the tui as the sun shines golden  at the end of day. 'Keow, Keow', and then a single, pure high note. The tui's song is full of hope. Maybe she's singing for a mate, or maybe just for the sheer joy of it.
I'm reminded that spring delivers, not just shocks and jolts, but also gifts of pleasure. My day was spent dealing with a burst pipe inside the wall. It's fixed, leaving gaping holes in both kitchen and bathroom. But after a day without water, I now marvel at the way it gushes forth when I turn on the tap.
It's the same with the song of the tui in the flame tree. After so much stormy weather, with not a bird to be heard, I am now being gifted an exquisite serenade.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Asserting growth

Spring growth erupts out of clenched fists. No matter how much we contract, dig our heels in, shut out the fierce interventions of nature, growth is programmed. Despite earthquakes and storms, new leaves find their way through, reaching to the sky.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Brave kowhai in the storm

Usually I delight in the kowhai flowering. It's so abundant, and the yellow flowers give their nectar so easily to the tuis that dip in their long beaks. But today the kowhais are lashed by fierce winds, their sunshine colour is tarnished, and the tuis are hiding.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The week-long storm

The storm continues, tearing down trees, scattering debris everywhere, knocking over bins and tables. I saw a huge limb hanging against a tree yesterday, but when I returned to photograph it, the leafy mess was gone. Only the wound remained. I was tempted to go out to the bach, but because it's on the west coast, I can't be sure that the power and phone lines will still be working. Today it feels a treat to return to the shelter of home, and rest in the memory of last night's beautiful spring equinox ritual of balance.
St Mary's Rd
Cowan Street

Spring Equinox

Today is Spring Equinox and full moon: an unusual conjunction, which brings our Southern Hemisphere Easter and Spring Equinox together on the same day. Last night I gathered my group for a ritual of balance, to find grounding and stillness in this wild spring We contemplated what needs rebalancing in our lives, and meditated to Yo Yo Ma playing Bach: music that brought our connection deep into the earth, like roots going down to strong holding. This is what we need when spring plays havoc with our sense of stability. The ritual was nourishing and energising. Together we created sanctuary.

The Japanese bowl above was placed in the centre to suggest potential and promise: growth to come. In the centre of the bowl sits a tiny 'chicken' from a hen-and-chickens fern.

The stillness of water and our power to contemplate, to enter the well of silence

The Altar: spaciousness and beauty in a season that is ragged and strewn with debris. Symbols for Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Rebalancing.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


My friend Jennie brought a me a bunch of bluebells, knowing how I love them. My father grew bluebells in a shady patch down the bottom of his garden, where they spread freely under the oak tree. When he died, I dug up some bulbs and planted them in my own garden. Some years later I left that house, but took a few bulbs with me to the new one, and also planted some at the bach.
Each spring when they flowered, I thought of them as 'Darcy's bluebells'. But I left my house two years ago, and no longer had a garden. Building work smothered the bluebell patch at the bach, leaving just a few. I gathered them, all four stems, just recently, feeling a little sad.
Then Jennie arrived, with her abundant bunch. 'I love bluebells too,' she said. 'These originally grew in my grandfather's garden.' Her bulbs also carry a heritage of love, family, and continuity. And so it is; we tend our gardens, we cherish the hidden bulbs which secretly multiply, and we gift them to others. Love may seem to dive underground at times, but in spring it surfaces once more and sweetly asks to be shared.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spring storm

'There's a storm on its way, as big as Australia!' said my neighbour as I hurried down the driveway yesterday, just beating the rain. Sure enough, it struck just at dusk, lifting the table from my balcony and hurling it to the other end in two parts, along with a couple of chairs. I thought of how disruptive spring can be. This week delivered both pleasant surprises and not-so-pleasant shocks. A situation that seemed all in place, suddenly switched direction, just like the westerly wind that abruptly shifted to the north and rattled the ranch sliders

How do we stay steady at such times? Boaties check their anchors before a storm. I breathe, slow down, sit in meditation, and remember what gives me anchorage: the love of friends and family, routines, spiritual wisdom, nourishing books and slow-simmering food. I remember to trust that when something is swept away, it makes space for a different order and fresh offerings.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another street garden

After a hard morning's work, I needed to step outside and refresh my energy. I walked down the street a little way and discovered a street garden: a planter box with a young magnolia growing from the centre. Inside the box, well-fertilised daffodils, and blue and pinky-red freesias waved their tall stems, Stretching into the sky, the creamy cups of magnolia opened their hearts. Fragrance wafted through the air. I felt completely refreshed, and grateful to these kind neighbours who have spilled their garden outside the walls, where all can stop and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Skeleton amid the green

After heaping up a pile of onion weed that I'd pulled out of the bach garden, I discovered a leaf: a perfect skeleton. I knew at once it had come from the mahoe tree, for its leaves have this habit of decaying to leave behind their lacy bones.
I placed it on top of the pile of juicy weeds, and reflected on the contrast. I thought of Christchurch, where in the season of spring, such devastation struck. In a time that should be about greening, hope, and new life, old buildings have been shaken to piles of rubble, and in some places the ground has even liquified. Even here, in the safety of the north, amidst the rush of regenerating life, reminders of mortality float down and lightly leave their mark.

Friday, September 10, 2010

For children, after the quakes

Spring is the growing season. How can the energies of spring help those, especially the children, who are traumatised by the Christchurch earthquake and its continued aftershocks?
The ground is something we normally associate with stability and safety. But after an earthquake, that trust is broken, and we need to regain perspective: to remember that the earth is normally stable and trustworthy, while the shaking is an exceptional event. To a child, these realities will feel reversed. Shaking and danger will have come to feel normal, and security abnormal. While an adult knows that over the span of a lifetime, an earthquake is a rare event, a child with a much shorter life, does not have such a perspective.
It’s spring, the growing season. Children can be reassured by planting seeds, knowing that the seedlings will be put into the earth when the ground is stable again. In this way, they will be reassured that the cycle of life goes on, that new life can be planted and grown, and the earth can be trusted once more.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Street beauty

On my walk, I turned down a little no-exit street. The weather was windy and threatening rain; typical spring fickleness, I told myself. But to my surprise, there on the pavement I discovered three little gardens, soft, fresh and pretty. Creamy polyanthus rose in a frothy fringe, with smaller purple ones on the inside, and pink dianthus that had just finished flowering. Out of the centre of each grew a young titoki tree, with bright feathery leaves.
'So you like the planting?' A man's voice jumped out of nowhere. It was the gardener. The owners of the house, he said, wanted to brighten up the street for others to enjoy. So they asked him to create the gardens. He was thrilled that I'd stopped to admire. 'They'll be on my blog', I said. 'Tell the owners, and say thank you.' I walked on, glad to know that spring can be not only fickle, but also kind.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The last flowering cherry

Of a whole street of flowering cherries, this was the last tree to bloom; and the tuis were gorging themselves. I counted nine tuis in this one tree, swooping in, turning somersaults, cavorting drunkly as they sipped what must be like nectar of the gods, if you are a bird. The rest of the trees had dropped a carpet of blossom, staining the footpaths red.
I remembered when I lived in Mt Eden, and it was always the tree outside my house that was the first in the street to burst into bloom. People used to remark on it, as if some special influence was responsible. The secret was quite simple. My house, and the tree, sat on a rise: the highest point in the street. And that little bit of extra sun tempted spring to arrive two weeks earlier. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I was greeted by a blast of colour at my friends' place: cheerful, laughing tulips. In past years I too have grown tulips and have been rewarded by their exuberant spring presence. But this year, after being busy moving house, I didn't get any bulbs or prepare my pots.
I'm reminded how the rewards of spring reflect the hard work of autumn and winter: Planning, buying, cooling the bulbs in the fridge to simulate winter, bedding them in with plenty of good plant food, and then voila, up they shoot, ready to shout 'spring is here!'
There's no such thing as a free lunch (sigh!). On second thoughts, maybe there's such a thing as a borrowed lunch, and that's what I had today in front of my friends' tulips.