Monday, June 28, 2010
Chinese know that the colour red brings good luck and prosperity. Why? I imagine because it lights up the heart and energises the body. Seeing red in the rain brightened my mood and encouraged me to take my [red] umbrella and go for a walk. I returned refreshed and ready to tackle a list of tasks once more.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
It took most of a month to locate holly for Winter Solstice celebrations, including the Solstice retreat I'm leading on Saturday. Auckland doesn't have much, and I couldn't find any in berry. I'm pondering on the drama of the holly tree, and how it stood out in the woodlands of Britain once all the other trees had lost their leaves. Its foliage is such a dark, emphatic green.
'Deck the halls with boughs of holly' - yes they brought it inside as a sign of hope and greening in the bleakness of winter. But it's vicious to handle. Did they wear gloves in medieval times, or were their hands just tough? (unlike mine: ouch!)
Monday, June 21, 2010
As I went up and down the supermarket aisles yesterday, I was followed by the sound of a tiny baby crying. There she was, in a pod perched on top of her mother's trolley, no longer reassured by her mother's voice. By the time I reached the bread shelves, the little cry had become louder and more shrill. I could hear it right down the aisle.
My shopping was done, and I was able to make for the checkout. But I paused. The sound had become slightly irritating and I was tempted to move quickly out of range. But in winter I slow down, and pay attention to things. I walked down the long aisle to where the mother and her red-faced,wailing little one were waiting at the meat counter.
'Is there any way I can help?' I asked. 'I'm used to crying babies. I have a little granddaughter.'
'She's hungry,' said the mother, 'and I'm trying to finish the shopping as quickly as I can'. 'Well, that's one thing I can't help with. But would you like me to hold her?' And this lovely trusting mother took her precious little six-week old out of the pod and handed her to me. All the baby needed was reassurance, and her cries ceased immediately. I held and rocked her while the mother attended to purchases over the counter. Then the mother took her baby, and held her close while she carried on.
What a gift, to be allowed to help. I received as much as I gave, and went away feeling tender, moved by the flow of trust and love. Maybe winter love has its own quality: soft, gentle, taking its time.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
My jade plant is flowering, putting forth a dome of pink stars. Bumble bees love it. I'm feeling close to bumble bees since hearing about the short-haired bumble bee which is now extinct in the United Kingdom. This subspecies was brought to New Zealand in a box of mixed bees 100 years ago and still survives in the McKenzie Country of the South Island.
Scientists thought they would breed some to send back to England, but alas, the bees all died in hibernation. What happened?
It seems that at the end of autumn, the bees usually die off, all except for some queens that have mated and find a safe nest for wintering over. The scientists bred some new queens, and tried to simulate the wintering process. However, because the bees were needed in the UK at a particular time, to match the northern hemisphere seasons, the scientists sped up the process. They put the bees through an accelerated autumn (by cooling down the temperature surrounding the nest) so the bees could begin hibernation in time for their great O.E. [for non-Kiwis, this stands for Overseas Experience]
It didn't work. Bees, like humans, have their own sense of timing it seems.
The original bees travelled here by ship, nestling down in their box in deep slumber while the months ticked by. Maybe that's how they want to go home, after 100 years in a new land. I hope they make it, because they're needed there. I'm told that certain plants are best pollinated by these fat, furry bumbles.
Monday, June 14, 2010
In winter, as the days grow stormy and grey, we need to find ways of storing the sun's warmth. Each time I look at the lemons or mandarins it's as if I'm transferring a little sun inside me. I can eat them too, and so the metaphor becomes a reality.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
It had been a raisin muffin; but in the morning it was a raisin and ant muffin (at least what was left of it). An enthusiastic ant trail, of much smaller ants, ran along the walls, across the table and into the feast. But now I knew what bait they would take: not the protein one that I'd tried before, but the liquid sweet bait. Sure enough, within minutes they had transferred allegiance from my breakfast to the new elixir (but not elixir of life; sorry ants).
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Collecting wood, lighting the fire, and snuggling up on the sofa. The walls warm up and the bach begins to glow. Good music on the stereo, an absorbing book, and I am content. No matter that the rain falls relentlessly outside and winter is turning more chilly.
Every season has its compensations, and the crackling of a wood fire is one of them. I also welcome the opportunity to become still and reflective. Delicious.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Ruth Todd is a marvellous interviewer, who reads the book, digests it, and then asks excellent questions. I loved talking about the seasons with her recently on Plains FM when she interviewed me about Dancing with the Seasons. Check it out: