Thursday, October 28, 2010

The colours of new growth

The new growth of titoki is bronze, and the leaves tender. To possoms they must be as delectable as new season's asparagus. Before possoms were controlled on the Waitakere West Coast, they would devour the whole spring growth in one night, and the titoki remained stunted for years. Now it's free to grow as it likes.
Pohutukawa shoots are almost lemon-yellow when caught by the light. They too used to be chomped off by the possoms, but now they are flourishing and in summer will blossom profusely.
Meanwhile, the new shoots of the little kiokio ferns are flaring like flames along the pathways. They are quite hard and scratchy, not possom-fare at all. I think of them as solar lights, the sun converted to red fire amongst the green.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


'Koia! Koia!' calls the long-tailed cuckoo: 'Dig, Dig!' So this is what I did. What a joy to know the earth is now warm and receptive, and to turn it over, digging in sheep pellets, and sprinkling wood ash on top, all ready for planting.
Kathy, the local organic grower, had red and green lettuce seedlings all ready, and before long I had them tucked into the earth, watered and ready to grow. It's so satisfying to join in the rhythm of the season and to begin another cycle of planting. I give thanks for this good earth, clean air and fresh water.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bare feet

What pleasure to cast off my shoes and walk barefoot on the ironsand, newly wet and turned to satin by the incoming tide. At last spring has bounded in like a lion, in perfect time for Labour weekend, when we have a 3 day holiday. People poured out of their cars, baches, city dwellings, to enjoy the beach. They brought balls, large and small, dogs large and small, bathing togs, picnics, and good humour.
Beside the sea, some lay down to soak up the sun, while others braved the waves. The flags were up, the lifeguards posted in their tower, and the sea sparkled.
Meanwhile, being a local and thinking of the garden I'd been digging over that morning, I picked up a long strand of kelp and dragged it home.

Friday, October 22, 2010


September 18
September 22

September 29
October 6

October 12
Watching the greening in the tree tops from my balcony. The growth seems to have accelerated at a certain point, and I remember that we are approaching peak greening on October 31, which is Beltane in New Zealand Aotearoa: flowering and sap rise. I thought I was watching this tree so carefully, but I looked away for a day or two, and there it was, having burst into purple flowers as well as an abundance of leaves. I'm in awe at the sheer power of the life force, pumping through, bringing new life and lushness.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Precious budding wings

Oh, the freedom of spring! The moon is waxing, the birds are flying and the skies are becoming bigger.

I celebrate freedom in my life, and rediscover a favourite poem of Hafiz, which guided me through a crucial budding time. This is how it begins:

We have not come here to take prisoners,
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
To hold ourselves hostage from love.

Run my dear,
From anything
that may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings. 
(From Ladinsky, The Gift, p.28)

I ran, and now my wings are strong.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


It’s the evening after a meditation Intensive, and I take my favourite walk. I stand and marvel at the grass bank stretching before me. It glimmers, like a green and white silk scarf, a long one, ripping in the wind.

I move closer and stand again to enjoy. Every little white flower head is moving: not exactly a nod, and not exactly a shake, but somehow a mix of both. They shiver, not with the cold, for spring is warming now, but maybe with excitement to be growing with such freedom.

I move closer still and discover what these shiny white flowers are: in my vegetable garden I call them onion weed and yank them out. Yet here I am admiring their massed presence.
A weed, said someone, is a plant in the wrong place. Is onion weed good or bad? Foolish question. I laugh at the illusion of duality.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nature's way

On my walk, I marvelled at the intense greening all around. the innocent young oaks are a frothy mass of foliage and flowering. They have grown unhindered, like fortunate children, from the moment of planting.

Then, I came to a row of older trees - limes, that have been severely pollarded. I paused there, musing on how new growth is springing out of the very places that were pruned and cut. The long slender branches that reach to the sky remain dry and bare, but close to the scarred trunk, leaves are bursting out.
I wondered whether this happens with us too, that the very site of our pain attracts nature's attention. Isn't this where the most intense growth takes place, if we let it, and don't keep plastering over our wounds? Left to the workings of nature, our sites of loss so often turn out to be openings to the sacred.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spring beauty

The wind is sharp and spring is biting again. But the unfolding of flowers on my deck is gentle. I am reminded of the beauty of spring at every turn. When I stepped out into the wind at the end of the afternoon, I shivered and tightened my coat around me. But then I saw the glorious blazing pink sky at the end of the street, and I opened up again in delight.
This is how it is right now: opening and closing, closing and opening. My heart is being well exercised. That's what spring asks of me.
September 29
October 10
Petunias, October 10

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spring play

Spring is the season when I wake up to play, laughter and children. Little Mira, my two year old granddaughter, comes to visit and it's warm enough for water play. After pouring water from one beaker to another, she then tries popping them on top of her head, and tipping them off into the bowl, accompanied by squeals of laughter. Being around Mira takes me into the joy of spring.
What makes Mira laugh:

  • An unknown drawer, suddenly opening
  • Splashing water over the tiles where it changes into a hundred droplets
  • Hearing the tui sing 'Cheow! Cheow!'
  • Hearing my imitation of the tui singing 'Cheow! Cheow!'
  • Seeing pumpkin chunks fall off my knife as I chop
  • Being alive

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spring on the waterfront

What a sparkly spring day it was on Sunday. Saturday I spent clearing storm debris at the bach, and dealing with a dangling power line. It took all day, just as I was leaving, for the Power Company to turn up and tell me they were ready to 'liven' me!

Well, it worked. Sunday was totally 'livened'. As I walked along the waterfront I saw the kayakers' 'committee meeting' on the water, fishers hauling up their catches, yachts scudding along in the fresh breeze, people out walking and cycling, many smiles, and white-faced bungy jumpers preparing to make a daring leap.
How quickly we come out of hiding and spring back to life when the sun smiles after so much grey weather. And how I enjoy being out there with others who are enjoying themselves in the fresh air; it's so easy to have conversations with strangers, and to feel at peace with everyone.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


'Flower', says Mira, my two year old granddaughter, pointing at her floral hairclip. Then 'flower', she says again, pointing out the window.  I look out and discover the most glorious sight in my son's garden: a fulsome mass of delicate pink, like a young girl spreading her ballet skirts, all ready to curtsey. There it stands, a flowering cherry tree, rising out of the long grass.
'Blossom!' I exclaim. 'Lots of flowers. It's a blossom tree'.
'Blossom,' says Mira, trying out this new word. And I think what a beautiful word it is. Then I ponder on the difference between a flower and a blossom. The dictionary, ever technical and accurate, tells me that blossom means flower or bloom, especially of a fruit bearing plant. Blossom also means to begin to thrive or flourish.
When I look at the blossom tree, I think of youth, hope and beauty. I think of the wonder of youth, when the whole world seems to be frothy and full of life. I think of opening to life.  I believe in romance. I feel my heart bloom into another season of hope.