Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Was I ready for my house-warming and birthday party? It's taken me nearly two years to be ready. For the first year I was publishing and selling a new book. Somehow I hadn't become settled enough, and there was always more to do. One thing I'd planned was to create a flowering garden in pots on my balcony.
The white hyacinth was just beginning to push out of the soil and into bloom, and the freesias were hanging out their fragrant petals, but that was all - because I was stopped by a broken wrist. 'Never mind, I'll go ahead anyway, and just enjoy the afternoon,' I decided.
But the garden appeared! Two friends, separately, had gone to the Eden Garden tulip day, and each brought me a pot of red tulips.
Another brought a gorgeous apricot begonia to sit inside.

 Others brought daffodils, and bunches of violets.
And cards with pictures of flowers, and a bunch of camellias . . .
And so the garden came to me. I've been drinking in the beauty ever since, and giving thanks for the way in which the presence of so many loving friends has blessed my home.
It's so important to have a house warming. I know it took me a while to get it organised, but it turned out that it happened at the perfect time.
The Irish have a rather nice blessing for such an occasion:
May your home always
be too small
to hold all of your friends.
There was a moment in the middle of the afternoon when I felt that my home was about to burst with joy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


The buds that I've watched through snow and then renewed warmth are now gently shaking out their skirts, preparing to dance.
My broken wrist is still in hibernation inside its white plaster cast,  but today I was able to take some one-handed photos. Thank you for your kind enquiries. 
On Tuesday I'm hoping to find out how it's doing. Meanwhile I'm imagining it is healing quietly, assisted by the energies of spring, and that it will eventually emerge from its bud case and dance once more.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spring at the bach

The grass on the walk from bach to the sea is studded with these star-like flowers; so bright and perky.
The broad beans in the bach garden are raising their stems towards the sun.
And the steps were covered in leaves from the storms, with weeds growing up through the cracks. This photo was taken before the weeds came - some months ago, in fact. But I'm showing it because this is where, in the fine sunshine of Saturday, while weeding with zest, I fell and broke my wrist,
So - my blogging will be sparse for a while. One hand good; two hands very good, and for some things, essential!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New growth

 I love to watch spring bringing new life to bush plants whem I'm at the bach. Here is the karamu, putting out its feathery blossom.
And kawakawa having a growth spurt with its candle-like flowers.
And rangiora spreading its fragrant flowerets. It can take a bit of practice to see native flowers, since they are usually green or white, being pollinated at night by moths.
I rejoice in these signs of new life, that have been undeterred by the frosts that fell on the fields on the flats below.
My photography and blogging may be slowed down for a while, as I'll explain in my next post.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Up the wall

I stopped and stared as I walked past a smart new townhouse and saw these plants growing up the wall.
At first I thought it was a mural. Then I realised they were real. This photo is of the side wall. Spray-on shrubs, perhaps. Yet they are growing too, and putting out spring shoots.
It all looked a bit unnatural and surreal to me. I was relieved to see rebel leaf tips making a break for freedom at the top of the wall. If I was a plant, I don't think I'd be satisfied with a two-dimensional life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cosy hyacinths

This year I grew two hyacinths in glass pots, starting them off in a dark cupboard so they could put roots down into the water below (to which I added charcoal for freshness). Once they put up their shoots, I brought them out into the light.
It's been a joy to show them to 3 year old Mira, and have her watch the miracle of the unfolding with me - and to smell the heavenly fragrance.
I put a third bulb in a pot outside, and would you believe it, but that one, exposed to the elements and every cold blast, is actually doing better than these cosetted beauties.
Here it is, basking in today's sun that was full of warmth, in sheltered nooks away from the icy wind.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brave buds

How were the buds doing, I wondered? After all, just as they were opening, Auckland had its first snowfall in 72 years, and its 'coldest ever daily high' (which is an odd word, considering it was a low!)
Of course, we are softies here, and the cold that we are feeling is nothing like what people further south are experiencing.
All the same, I wondered how those delicate buds (being Auckland buds) were managing the icy blasts.
Oh, brave buds! They continue to unfurl, and open. Nature's rhythm is stronger than any vagaries of the weather, it seems. The energy of spring is with us; it's just that it's masquerading as winter for a few days.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Snowflakes in Auckland!

Yes, it's true! This afternoon the sun was swallowed up in the icy clouds above, and what began as rain suddenly softened into snow flakes.
Rain falls, but snowflakes tumble, float, and waft down from the sky.
Here beside the sea, the snow did not linger on the ground.
No photos were possible, for this ephemeral event.
And so all I can do is paint a word picture.
But I saw a sight I never thought to see in my lifetime: snow falling in Auckland!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Not only are the leaf buds turning red, but also the twigs as trees return to life.
I imagine the life blood flowing through these twigs, preparing for a great outbreak of leaves.
Officially, it's not yet spring. But to me, when I notice the subtle signs that are everywhere, spring is surely here. As the Chinese proverb says,
Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by humans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Buds opening

The same buds that I photographed just a few days ago and now peeling back their skins and showing their tender folded petals.
And while some trees are still quite dormant, others are popping out little leaf buds, red with new life.
It seems amazing that the bright green of a leaf is concealed inside such a red bud. Red and green are complementary colours. Artists learn to create a vibration by placing red and green next to each other. These buds must be vibrating with joy at their imminent release.
And Spring arose on the garden fair,
 Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
 And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
 rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
 ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, 'The Sensitive Plant'

Friday, August 5, 2011


I see buds everywhere, even in trees that look as if they are still winter-bare.
As I walked down the street, musing on this word 'Bud', I found a poem writing itself inside my head.
A perfect word
Let it be said
Enfolding U
From B/irth to D/eath.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blessing for First Light

Here is an Irish blessing, spoken in our circle last night as we celebrated First Light and remembered the Celtic Brigid, goddess of inspiration, poetry and healing:
When the first light of sun —
Bless you
When the long day is done —
Bless you
In your smiles and your tears —
Bless you
Through each day of your years —
Bless you
Blessings to you all, wherever you are, and in whatever season.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Celebrating First Light

Tonight I'll be celebrating the festival of First Light. In this land of Aotearoa, the inanga (whitebait) are wriggling their way up the rivers.
We too will be listening to the new life that is young and wriggling inside after the hibernation of winter.
The yellow flowers will be set in the south, where in Celtic tradition we find the element of earth (reversed for our southern hemisphere). In the west lies water, signified tonight with this blue vessel and white sea shells. To the Celts, First Light, which is half-way between winter solstice and spring equinox, is the festival of the fire goddess Brigid, who is associated with creativity, poetry and healing.
Tonight the candles will be lit in honour of Brigid. And as an extra element, here is the Chinese goddess of compassion, Kuan Yin, for we will be invoking healing and compassion for absent friends, and all those in trouble at this time.
Kuan Yin is said to be 'She Who Sees and Hears the Cries of the World'.
This is a festival of gentleness, welcoming back the light, and letting it support the blossoming of hope.