Sunday, October 30, 2011

Beltane the spring festival: October 31

It's peak greening time - halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice. Everything is growing apace. The nikaus are brightly spreading their fans,
pohutukawas are pushing out new, light green foliage,
and everywhere, the cabbage trees are flowering.
A profuse flowering is said to be a forerunner to a long, hot summer.
And in the bush, the hen and chicken fern is putting out lots of little babies. Each 'chicken' will grow into a whole new fern. Beltane is associated with procreation and fertility, and that's exactly what nature is demonstrating.
I invite you to wear a sprig of green in your buttonhole tomorrow, October 31, and celebrate high spring.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Street Flowers

 To walk around the streets is to be greeted by flowers. I love yellow roses, and these ones, just popping out of their buds, are sheer delight.
 A corokio hedge has been newly cut, but its flowers are determined to bloom.
I love their little star-like forms, chattering away in the hedge.
From yellow to red, and I spot puriri flowers peeping out from high branches
a flame tree, now sporting new leaves as well as its vibrant scarlet flowers,

and in one of the street gardens, gladioli flaming on their stalks.

In the book by Maoshing Ni on Secrets of Longevity, I came across a page called 'Stress-Busting Flowers'. She describes the effect of flowers on a person's moods, and declares that colourful flowers combat stress. A study showed that people typing beside a bright bouquet were able to relax better than people who sat beside foliage alone.

As I came down the hill towards home, I passed the softness of camellias,

and finally, as I came in the gate, here were two tall trees enjoying their pink frilly leafing time. I can't remember the name of these trees because I think of them as 'truffula' trees - as in Dr Seuss's book The Lorax. As long as the truffula trees are thriving, the world is doing OK.
And as long as the streets are blooming with such exuberance, I am uplifted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


At the bach, I'm pulling out some wild flowers - onion weed mainly - and delighting in others. This little blue flower is growing down the driveway, making me stop to admire the intensity of the blue (the photo does not do the colour justice). Does anyone know what it is? The leaves are like those of a bulb.
The garden is fringed with a tangle of forgetmenots. Every year they appear in their thousands, together with
clambering nasturtiums. I pick the smaller leaves and the best of the flowers to brighten up my salads.
Meanwhile, the broad bean flowers peep out shyly.

I study them for signs of some tender young bean pods appearing, but there's no sign as yet. And so for now I enjoy them, along with all the other little flowers that have popped up unbidden. Spring is so full of surprises.

Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spring combat

Spring sets the birds a-fighting.
I hear the urgent flutter of wings, and there they are, up in the air, flying furiously at each other.
I would have thought that there was plenty of territory and plenty of food, but these young blackbirds would not agree. You can see which one 'won'; it's standing there very firmly while the other one stalks off. (Tonight the All Blacks play France in the final of the rugby world cup. Maybe the birds are catching the mood?)

Or are they a young male and female, and he is the spurned would-be mate? Whatever the story, spring is not just blossoms and beauty, it's also about winning, wildness, and wantonness.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


As I walk the streets, I discover blossom abounding everywhere.
Blossoming branches are painting the sky like fluffy brushes.
Blossom is frothing out of bushes and on to the pavement
sending its fragrance into the air and attracting a myriad of bees
Like spring snow it covers every twig and branch in a riotous celebration of life
Joyful, abundant flowering wherever I go. 

Blossom. What a beautiful word. It goes back to Old English 'blostma' and seems to carry within it an explosion of life. I looked up some blossom poems, but the poets (John Donne, Shakespeare . . . ) see blossoms as an occasion to mourn the ephemeral nature of life. And so I offer this line from Hafiz, which reflects my blossom--pleasure more accurately:
The garden is breathing out the air of Paradise today (Hafiz)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brightness returning

In the sharp light of spring, I'm seeing things I didn't notice before. Today the bromeliads were shining in the light, their centres red and bright.

They are happily drinking, having caught plenty of  rain in their centres.

This one shows the contrast of bright green, with the red new leaves opening in the middle.

And others, like this, have dull red exteriors and lively centres.

I've passed the bromeliads so many times as I walk down the driveway, and they've seemed a bit rough and battered, not really worthy of interest. But today, with the right combination of sun and rain, they were full of life.
I'm feeling that way myself, as my broken wrist gradually strengthens, my writing is surging ahead, and I'm becoming fit once more. Spring is on my side!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leafing time (2)

The magnolia, that I've been watching putting out its buds, has now flowered. The next phase has been leafing. So many trees put out blossoms on bare branches, but leaves need to follow, for it's the leaves that supply energy to the tree and allow the cycle of life to continue.
The leaves on the oaks on the low road have been slow to appear. Here are the first tiny green shoots, assertions of life amidst the bare branches.
A little higher up the road, and leafing is more advanced.
And higher still, the green is brilliant and forming a full canopy.

My heart sings as I watch this greening, this brightness, and this assertion of new life.

When you finally allow yourself to trust joy and embrace it, you will find you dance with everything.—Emmanuel.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Leafing time

Spring growth is accelerating. This is the melia tree coming into leaf, so delicately. 
Two weeks ago it was showing little leaf buds only.
And the flame tree makes me smile, in the way it is putting out just one little leaf cluster - you can see it to the right of the flowers. It looked like this two weeks ago.
And today, here is the leaf cluster, a little more spread out, and a brighter green. It's on the eastern side, where the tree catches the morning sun. Maybe that's why this twig has a head start.
On my balcony, this succulent has shot up a stem with buds on it. I'm watching to see what will unfold.
Spring is such a joyful season, full of surprises, and so very alive.
The mere sense of living is joy enough—Emily Dickinson