Glimmerings at First Light

Glimmerings at First Light

  Do you ever have times when you run low on patience, or even hope? — when it seems you’ve been struggling with something long enough, and you feel the situation may never change?   There is a season that knows all about this. It takes place in the six weeks...
Matariki Moon Time

Matariki Moon Time

As Matariki returns and opens the season when Maori would go into the dark forests to snare birds, I plunge into my own dark to catch new ideas.   For me, winter is a creative season, a time to catch and preserve new life so it can safely gestate in the still earth....
Winter Fire

Winter Fire

How do you maintain your inner fire at winter solstice, when thunderclouds rumble through the sky and cloudbursts drench the air, bringing plummeting temperatures that set you shivering?   If you are in the northern hemisphere, you will soon be celebrating summer...
The space between seasons

The space between seasons

The song of the tui had changed. As I walked up the steps to my bach, I took time to pause and listen. No chortles, gurgles or rasps. The tui were singing a clear song, just two notes, one long and one short, with a rising inflection.     This was new. I’d never...
Honouring Last Light

Honouring Last Light

    My granddaughter and I wandered through the park, picking up anything that was dying or dead: tiny pine cones that had been shaken down in the storm before they had ripened, mature cones, silvery sticks, autumn leaves, maple seed balls and more. Here, on the...
Gathering Pearls

Gathering Pearls

The Queen of England said a surprising thing recently. She was being interviewed for a BBC documentary as she watched film footage of her 1953 Coronation.   Out came the crown jewels, and as the Queen held two pearls in her hand, that were said to have belonged to the...
Equinox turning

Equinox turning

  The woman sitting next to me at the concert pulled a paper bag out of her handbag. ‘Would you like two pears from my tree?’ This was rather surprising, first as I knew her only slightly and hadn’t seen her for two decades. Second, we were sitting on pews in a...
Preserving and giving

Preserving and giving

  I was on a quest. At first it seemed a simple enough thing to ask: who does home preserving, and has jars of produce that I might photograph?     What would you have said? A few replies arrived on Facebook. Avrael has preserved 17 jars of pears and some apricots,...
First Fruits

First Fruits

    As First Fruits arrives, I am aware of how much ripening is taking place in nature. This is the season when I enjoy luscious tastings of apricots, nectarines, plums and blueberries. It feels wondrous that the sun’s warmth can be stored in such a juicy...
Rhythms of creativity

Rhythms of creativity

    My creative spirit is breathing more freely, reaching more deeply, stimulated and revived by two things: immersion in nature, and connection with children. The summer outflow, or the winter drawing-in — both take us beyond our usual edges and into new awareness.  ...
Solstice Blessing 2017

Solstice Blessing 2017

    Imagine if . . . at this time of year, for every person who is speeding up, disconnecting and behaving erratically . . . there is someone who is slowing down, connecting deeply to the still centre within, and taking special care. Imagine what the lead up to summer...
Two kinds of solstice

Two kinds of solstice

    As we approach the sacred time of solstice I am holding hands across the world with my northern hemisphere readers. On December 22, it will be summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, and winter solstice in the north. It is time to celebrate both. Solstice is...
Stability in springtime

Stability in springtime

    A tui is singing, persistently from the top of the flame tree. It’s one of those bird calls that proclaims ‘all is well.’   It’s a reassuring message in this wild and changeable spring. After weeks of rain and wind, suddenly it seemed as if...
Kiss of spring

Kiss of spring

  Does your garden talk to you? Reach out to touch you, even? I was weeding and removing dying leaves from the spring bulbs that were well past their best. Only a few weeks ago the freesias were bursting with fragrance and blossom. Now the flowers were gone and the...
How to grow again

How to grow again

    Sometimes the rhythm of a different season takes over. I’ve been resting after surgery for an injury to my knee. This slides me back into a kind of winter quiet, even as the outer season is bursting with activity and new growth. The enforced rest gives me...
Equinox across the world

Equinox across the world

    I walked into a wind that was so strong it took all my strength to go forward. To my left, the sea was whipping up white horses. When I finally turned, it was a relief to feel the hand of the wind in the small of my back, helping me home. A black cloud covered the...
Fresh start

Fresh start

Spring is here—Te Koanga—and with it, the chance to make a fresh start. Is there a fresh start calling you?     Maybe you’d like to freshen up your home, or a special relationship. Maybe you need to revive your energy and enthusiasm for life.   What Nature teaches If...
Seasons of Creativity

Seasons of Creativity

  After the shift of the sun at First Light, and the beginning of warmer weather, I’ve been drawn outside to make nature art again.   I found myself making little nests from pohutukawa leaves, and placing white stones into them. Often it’s only after...
Do  trees sleep?

Do trees sleep?

  What do trees and grizzly bears have in common? According to forester Peter Wohlleben, who wrote The Hidden Life of Trees, bears prepare for hibernation by eating and eating to grow fat and sustain themselves for months of sleep with no food. And would you believe...
Winter words

Winter words

Caught   I found a poem caught in a tree   fluttering like a leaf,   struggling to fly free     Oh kite of many colours, You strayed  into the season of stark   You must wait now for the season of flight     when the light returns and greening loosens all ties    ...
Matariki today

Matariki today

As I’ve been walking the shoreline, clearing dead tomato stems from my garden, and gathering firewood in the bush, I’ve been pondering on this question:     Why is Matariki is the first Maori festival to be celebrated with enthusiasm by Pakeha and Maori...
Preparing for winter

Preparing for winter

    Does the idea of preparing for winter seem an odd concept to you? If it does, let me remind you that you may know more about this than you think. People have always prepared for winter through the acts of harvest, storage and containment.   Preparing for winter is...

Two faces of autumn

  Are you ready to enter the nurturing dark of winter? We have just passed southern hemisphere Samhain, Last Light, the threshold to Winter.   This year it’s only recently that autumn has beguiled us with its golden time, that gift of a second summer. Before...
Nature pilgrimage

Nature pilgrimage

  How do you know when your soul is thirsty?    I’m talking about that deeper level of thirst, that you may not even recognise until it is satisfied. At the end of February I received an invitation to meet with friends and stay in a simple tramper’s...
Ripening and Assimilating

Ripening and Assimilating

    Has summer made you tired? Have you had ‘too much of a good thing’? Maybe you are all too ready to kick summer out the door? But don’t be too hasty! Because there’s an important seasonal task to be completed. And a good time to do it is in...
Return to wonder

Return to wonder

Does this picture make you smile?   Well I certainly smiled when I came across this scene on the small beach near my home. Someone had been playing with shells and stones, finding different ways to place them all over the pohutukawa tree that sprawled down to the...
Be sustained

Be sustained

  Have you drawn closer to nature over summer?   I certainly have, and I’m aware of what a beneficial effect this has had on my health and wellbeing in these troubled times. During January I’ve been posting a series called ‘Wonder in Nature’ on...
Fresh perspectives 2017

Fresh perspectives 2017

    How was your holiday? Has it relaxed and opened you up to new levels of wellbeing? Have you returned with fresh perspectives? It’s a big transition, taking a holiday. And also returning from one. You may be finding some of this challenging.   I’ve been hearing two...
A ritual for new year 2017

A ritual for new year 2017

  As New Year’s day approaches, I feel inspired to send you a bonus. Here is my offering of a ritual which you might like to do at new year, either with your family, community, friends, or in the quietness of your own company. It may be done whether you are in...
Be refreshed (2)

Be refreshed (2)

  Do you find that summer draws you closer to water?  For many of you it will be the sea, but it could also be a stream, waterfall or lake. Being close to water brings about a special kind of renewal.   The waters of childhood   As a child I spent my happiest hours...
Time for Trees (2)

Time for Trees (2)

    Have you ever sat in silence in a forest?     If so, you may have noticed how full of change it is. The moment to come is different from the moment just passed. Wind stirs the air and shakes the leaves, creating sounds that shift and change. Light comes and goes,...
Planting Time (2)

Planting Time (2)

    What have you been planting this spring?    I spent a long weekend on my block of land recently, with my hands in the soil. After pulling out armfuls of onion weed, I began to wake the garden up with a thorough digging. My spade unearthed one fat worm after...
Celebrating spring

Celebrating spring

  Here we are in the full leafiness of spring, the season that brings an infusion of new life, regeneration and joy.     Can you feel it? Does it make you want to sing, dance, make love, run, walk, or laugh? Or do you feel tired, maybe nursing the residue of a virus,...
Bright patches

Bright patches

  At last the weather looked fair enough for a weekend at the bach.     As I wandered down the aisles of the Fruit Barn, selecting lettuces, carrots, avocados and capsicum for a salad, the weather man’s voice chattered out from the speakers. ‘The good...
balance

balance

  Today is spring equinox. Night and day, dark and light are in balance. Southern and northern hemispheres are also in balance.     In the north the balance is about to tip towards the dark, and here in the south the balance is about to tip towards the light. Yet the...
Season of surprise

Season of surprise

    Which season is most full of surprise for you? For me, spring wins every time. Last week, as I walked along the leafy streets, suddenly I was engulfed in sweet fragrance. It felt as if a shimmering diaphanous stole had been flung over my head and shoulders. What a...
Wild Retreat

Wild Retreat

  Have you ever given yourself a retreat — time out from obligations, time to be nurtured and to reconnect with yourself?   If so, you may imagine or hope that the retreat will be peaceful, with no disruptions. But this may not be the case.   I began writing this...
First Light/Imbolc/Brigid

First Light/Imbolc/Brigid

  On a wild ironsand beach I prepare to welcome First Light, which in the southern hemisphere falls on August 2 .   This festival falls half-way between winter solstice and spring equinox. It was known to my Celtic ancestors as the festival of Imbolc or Brigid. Brigid...
A winter welcome

A winter welcome

  Have you ever felt warmly welcomed by someone?   It feels good, doesn’t it? Some people know how to do this, quite instinctively. They know the small touches that make you, the visitor, feel you matter, that you are valued and special. If you pause for a...
In winter light

In winter light

  I’ve been out walking in the brief fine patches between showers, hail and steady rain, and have composed this winter photo poem for you. I hope you enjoy it.   In winter light, new shapes emerge     In winter light, a shiver crosses the land       In winter...

Lighting the inner fire

  Do you find yourself huddling against the cold, the rain or the howling wintry wind? Do you walk through the elements with a grimace on your face and resentment in your heart, thinking, ‘This is a sod of a season’? Do you even start thinking with envy of your friend...
Solstice Suns

Solstice Suns

  What are the rituals that you never forget?    For me, it’s the ones that take place outside — yes, even in winter. Two solstice rituals come to mind as I sit here to write to you on this cold, bright winter’s day. The first takes me back to the warmth...
Missing Matariki

Missing Matariki

  It’s June, and here in New Zealand an important event has occurred in the night sky: the return of Matariki, a beautiful star cluster that many will know by its European name: The Pleiades.   Matariki the wanderer dips above and below the horizon, teasing with...
Longing for lemons

Longing for lemons

  I gaze out the ranch-sliders to the little grove of lemon trees, scanning the sharp leaves and hard green fruit, hoping to find one that is ripe. Early winter is approaching here, and it’s too soon for lemons. But I have a cold and am longing for a lemon...

Remembrance

  Outside the dark, noisy café, a woman sat on the pavement. ‘You’ve caught the sun,’ I said, as I stopped to talk.   ‘Yes’, ‘it’s sweet autumn’, she said. I agreed. ‘These fine days feel as if they could last forever.’ ‘But they won’t, the woman...

Saying goodbye to summer

I caught myself feeling sulky. I know I ‘should’ know better, but the truth is, I felt let down this weekend when I woke in my cabin on the land to find that I felt cold, and had to turn on the heater for the first time in months.     Yes, it’s that...
The Last tomato

The Last tomato

Each morning I sit on my balcony in the sun and quietly eat my breakfast. As I enjoy my muesli, I watch the last tomato slowly ripening on a withering plant.   I feel I’m in the presence of a mystery, as I watch the colour deepen a little more each day. How does...
Equinox blessings

Equinox blessings

Happy autumn equinox! And to you in the northern hemisphere, happy spring equinox!   At equinox, light and dark, day and night come into balance. At equinox, our two hemispheres of this planet come into balance. We are together, poised in this moment of changeover.  ...
How seasons change

How seasons change

 How do how seasons change? Once again we are entering a period of transition: summer to autumn in the southern hemisphere, winter to spring in the north. What is your idea about how seasons change? I notice that a lot of people think of seasonal change as something...
Keeping a nature diary

Keeping a nature diary

Have you ever kept a nature diary? I kept a small one last year while undertaking a ‘Rewilding’ challenge. The idea was to spend 30 minutes outside, every day for 30 days, and to make different observations each day, according to different instructions. I didn’t...

Giving and receiving

Have you ever been really surprised by a gift? A wave of pleasure swept over me when an old friend arrived with a bouquet of flowers. After she had gone, the flowers continued to give pleasure each time I looked at them, this inspired me to use a flower delivery in...
Fresh perspectives

Fresh perspectives

  How was your holiday?  Has it relaxed and opened you up to new levels of wellbeing? Have you returned with fresh perspectives? It’s a big transition, taking a holiday. And also returning from one. You may be finding some of this challenging. I’ve been hearing...

Solstice Blessing 2015

Imagine if . . . at this time of year, for every person who is speeding up, disconnecting and behaving erratically . . . there is someone who is slowing down, connecting deeply to the still centre within, and taking special care. Imagine what the lead up to summer...

Be refreshed

  Do you find that summer draws you closer to water?  For many of you it will be the sea, but it could also be a stream, waterfall or lake. Being close to water brings about a special kind of renewal.   The waters of childhood Do you have memories of a special watery...
Time for trees

Time for trees

Have you ever sat in silence in a forest? If so, you may have noticed how full of change it is.The moment to come is different from the moment just passed. Wind stirs the air and shakes the leaves, creating sounds that shift and change. Light comes and goes,...
Planting time

Planting time

Have you done any planting yet?  I spent a long weekend on my block of land recently, with my hands in the soil. After pulling out armfuls of onion weed, I began to wake the garden up with a thorough digging. My spade unearthed one fat worm after another, and as I...
Spring Dilemma

Spring Dilemma

    We are approaching Whiringanuku, Beltane, Flowering and Sap-Rise, (on October 31): the festival of regeneration. And I’m reposting my message from last year, for there’s no regeneration in the death imagery of Halloween, which spills out of the shops...
Growth Rings

Growth Rings

What has a sick child to do with the growth rings on a tree?    When my seven-year old granddaughter arrived for her much anticipated sleepover, the first thing that happened was that she threw up. Her mother quickly said, ‘I’ll take her home.’ Sizing up the...

How to green again

  Have you ever found that your inner season is out of sync with the outer season?   This can easily happen in early spring. ‘Spring is sooner recognised by plants than by people,’ says a Chinese proverb. The Chinese knew that while plants respond to the subtle cues...

Spring cleaning

It was a bit of an issue at Customs in 1986 when I brought a small millet broom back from my travels. My friends laughed at me. ‘Why would you . . . ?’ It wasn’t just a souvenir. I’d been staying in an ashram in India, and my...

Is spring here yet?

Pregnant in Paris: that was me in 1970, with not a female relative in sight. How could I prepare myself to give birth to my baby?   I took refuge in books on natural childbirth. And that’s when I discovered that ‘transition’ is a critical phase in the birthing...

Waking up

Sometimes it can be hard to wake up. I’m not just thinking about in the morning, but also about coming out of a season of slumber. Do you ever find that? You shut down; maybe because you’ve had a set-back which has knocked you off your growth perch and...

Three levels of rest

Oh no! You feel a tickle at the back of your throat and your nose is starting to feel stuffy. You know what this means. There’s no room in your life for a cold or flu. It’s not in your plan for the month. Even so, you are forced to take to bed. The placard...
Mindfulness Mountain 2

Mindfulness Mountain 2

 ‘From the top, light and shadows will shape the land you know in new ways,’ said the mountain as I rested with my back against a sun-warmed rock at the summit. I closed my eyes, and felt I could stay there forever.  But the voice of the mountain said,...

Mindfulness Mountain (1)

I’ve just spent a weekend at the beautiful Mana Retreat on the Coromandel Peninsula, where I led a winter solstice ritual for the community and helpers who had gathered for a big working bee. On Sunday I had time for replenishment. At Mana, there are many...

Thyme for solstice

Just before I picked up my pen to write to you for winter solstice, I opened an envelope that had just arrived through the mail. Neatly folded inside the letter, I discovered two little sprigs of wild thyme.    Lost on the limestone I inhaled the tangy scent and was...

Musing on Matariki

  It’s June, and the celebration of Matariki’s return will take place on the 18th. I’m wondering if you have ever seen Matariki? And if so, do you remember the first time or a particular sighting? I do, and since winter is the storytelling season,...
Against the dark

Against the dark

 It is human nature to rebel against the encroachment of winter. At the Steiner School in the late afternoon, the rain cleared, and Darkness stepped coolly towards us.  The air was alive with chirping children’s voices. ‘I know where he’s...

Gathering the good

Now that harvest is over, what happens next? If you thought ‘rest’, you are right. Rest follows the hard work of harvest in the seasonal cycle. In Maori society, Haratua, the month that followed the kumara harvest, was so quiet that it was often dropped...

Looking back on Samhain

Where do you keep memories of your ancestors? What about your memories of other loved ones who have died? Are they packed away in a box, or do you take them out from time to time, to leaf through, to taste like dark chocolate (bitter or sweet) or to cradle quietly in...

Unearthing in autumn

 We’ve done this before, you and I. It’s that time of year again, when the shadows are lengthening, the nights are growing cooler and it’s time for us to venture to the other side of the hill. At first we seem to be making straight for the sea, but...
Autumn  treasure

Autumn treasure

 The shadows are lengthening and the days are growing cooler. Salad days have come to an end, and it’s time for hot soup and toast.At Easter I laid a trail for the young one (now 6 1/2 years old).‘To do this treasure hunt, you need to be very...

Season of Sacrifice

I wasn’t sure if you would want to read this post with a word like ‘sacrifice’ in the header. After all, doesn’t sacrifice refer to the killing of people and animals in the name of religion? Yes, and there’s more. The root of the word may surprise you. It comes...
Time for pilgrimage

Time for pilgrimage

 You have walked this walk with me before, dear readers, and it’s time for us to return. Here in Auckland, In the week before Easter, St Matthew In The City creates a labyrinth (based on a medieval design) out of river stones, and lights the way with many...
I took my drum . . .

I took my drum . . .

‘Bring a drum,’ they said, ‘to help with the protest.’ So I dug out my old animal skin, shaman’s drum that I made many years ago. In the rainy morning, the drum skin sagged. So I put it in the airing cupboard, and almost left it at home,...
Don’t fall in love with a tree

Don’t fall in love with a tree

Dear reader, don’t fall in love with a tree.   I did. How could I help it? From the balcony of my apartment I look out on it every day. Beyond the cypress, and in front of the sea, there it stands through all seasons. In summer it leafs greenly, and in autumn...
Transitions & Rituals

Transitions & Rituals

I smiled when I heard the radio announcer declaring on March 1: ‘Today is the first day of autumn.’ When March began the sun was blazing and it felt as if summer had just rediscovered itself after an uncertain February. You and I know that the start of any...
A cyclone conversation

A cyclone conversation

 It’s hard to believe that a fierce cyclone is approaching. The evening before is so golden and calm. There is just time for a quick dip before the little one goes to bed. Sleepovers are so precious. They allow time for conversations to unfold:...
In times of drought

In times of drought

In late summer a seven-letter word hovers on the lips of farmers, growers and media commentators. That word is ‘drought’. Despite February showers in parts of the country, this year the South Island farmers have been hit hard, with the pre-Christmas promise of good...
Stones for Christchurch

Stones for Christchurch

February 22 is the 4th anniversary of the big Christchurch earthquake that shattered a city and claimed many lives. After the quake I went to the Auckland beach near my home and made a shrine. I returned over many days to make new ones to post on my blog. You can see...
Rituals of welcome

Rituals of welcome

Through the summer holidays I had been sewing, plying my needle through tough canvas, to prepare for this special day. Now that the little one was to begin in Class One at the Steiner school, she needed a chair cover with a deep pocket across the back. At the end of...

Saving Seeds

Did you celebrate the festival of First Fruits (Lugnasad, Te Waru, Lammas) on February 2? If so, you may have found yourself gathering berries, stone fruit or nuts to bring to the altar. On an inner level, as you gather in the first fruits of summer, how do you decide...
Breaking bread at Lugnasad

Breaking bread at Lugnasad

  The wheel has turned, rain has fallen on the parched earth and a lively wind is rattling loose branches around my home. Time to sip tea, break bread, and give thanks. Thanks for the golden summer, which is now turning its head towards a doorway marked...
Rituals of Arrival

Rituals of Arrival

What are your rituals of arrival, when you come to a special place?  Last weekend as I crunched along the gravel path and up the brick steps to the bach, I became aware of mine. Between carrying in the first and second loads from the car, I found myself pausing to...
Nature is the teacher

Nature is the teacher

It’s time to take a break from some work that isn’t going as quickly as I would like. Time to play, and my six-year-old playmate is all ready to go. It’s morning, and the tide is too far out for swimming. Never mind, the beach is perfect for...
Back from the bush

Back from the bush

 Being in nature and being in community: what a rich and nourishing combination this is. Once a year I attend a gathering of people who are concerned for the earth and its people. This year we tried out a completely new location. The school camp at Port Waikato was...
Summer Solstice Circles

Summer Solstice Circles

 After an hour of meditation this morning, a spell of gardening, a toast of elderflower champagne (!) on the steps with my gardener as we admired our work, I set off for the beach.Each summer solstice my favourite thing is to create an offering on the sand, to greet...
Imagine . . .

Imagine . . .

 Imagine . . .  Imagine if . . . at this time of year, for every person who is speeding up, disconnecting and behaving erratically . . . there is someone who is slowing down, connecting deeply to the still centre within, and taking special care. Imagine what the lead...
Retreat into stillness

Retreat into stillness

The calendar year attempts to impose its agendas of deadlines and completions, yet the seasonal year is opening like a flower, towards the shining light of summer solstice.  And so what better time to retreat for the weekend, to a beautiful place in nature, with...
Preparing a welcome for summer

Preparing a welcome for summer

 Here we are on the brink of summer, and the little tree climber has come for a sleepover. Pohutukawas are great trees for climbing. They sprawl out over the beach, and their bark has plenty of grip.  Jumping off on to soft sand isn’t hard.  And now we’ve...
Abundance Tree

Abundance Tree

  Do you ever feel concerned that today’s children are at risk of growing up less connected to nature than to electronic media? —that children are now overprotected from exploring the natural world? Then come down this suburban street with me. Technically,...
Summer Mandalas

Summer Mandalas

When the wind keeps stealing the joy of spring, and rain and hail dampen the spirits, it’s time to look forward to summer, which surely is coming. And so I’ve made a gift card set from my past ‘Summer Mandala’ images. I’ve done one of...
Reshaping the wood

Reshaping the wood

What can be done when at the height of spring, lightening strikes, destroying a living, breathing tree? If the heart wood is sound, it then becomes a resource.I pick up my old saw and cut two pieces from the golden and red heart, one each for the little one and me....
Whenua

Whenua

How can we ensure that the younger generation are connected with the movements of nature, and come to care for this earth as dearly as their own selves? In Maori, whenua means ‘land’. It also means ‘placenta’. Just as the placenta feeds...
Gateways

Gateways

The shadow falls in any season, even in spring when nature is singing its heart out and growth is surging everywhere. There is no one season for making a crossing out of this life. As I walked along the waterfront near my city home, I contemplated the passing of a...
Savage spring

Savage spring

Fierce storms have wrecked havoc at the bach. Savage spring sent ferocious gusts that tugged and ripped until all resistance was gone.  Felled is the lofty kanuka that has stood for over 50 years a sentinel at the corner. Who guards the guardians? The tree was sound,...
A little piece of magic

A little piece of magic

It’s spring, the storms have subsided, and adventure is in the air. Time to feel young again, and to spend time with the young.  It’s nearly the end of the school holidays, and the little one (who is six) and I set out on an adventure. We take the green...
Wind Woman

Wind Woman

 Have you met the wind woman?  She’s here today, howling around my home,  tickling the leaves,  pushing the trees, and tearing their hair.  She was here yesterday, and the day before, hurling branches on to the roadways.  The eastern suburbs of the city have...
Equinox planting

Equinox planting

 At our spring equinox celebration, one of the women gave everyone a little clay dish. We didn’t know what was going to be put into it, until after a mysterious box was passed around.   It was dark inside the box, and there was little to be seen. But we were...
Equinox eggs

Equinox eggs

 Happy spring equinox!  Light and dark are equal today, in balance.  Out at the bach, bluebells are flowering and the hen and chickens ferns are covered in tiny ‘chicks’.  The light will now increase until summer solstice. Today after days of rain and...
Green heart beats on the beach

Green heart beats on the beach

 Wear green, they said, and I did.  Head out to the west coast, they said, and I did. Don’t mind the weather, they said, and I brought my umbrella, which luckily turned out to be green.  I didn’t need a speech on climate change, and nor did anyone else. We...
When spring hides her face

When spring hides her face

 When spring hides her face, disappearing behind veils of rain, I create altars.  Not altars in the religious sense, but rather altars in homage to nature, and the seasons.  This is the definition I give in my book, ‘A Cup of Sunlight’:‘An altar is a...
Flowering friendships

Flowering friendships

 I’m so lucky to have a birthday that falls on the threshold of spring,  when all of nature is bursting into a song of welcome. This year, I was so busy with the birthing of the littlest one, nearly four weeks early, that at first I thought I had no time to...
Weeding and wandering

Weeding and wandering

 When deadlines are pushing and pressuring and I’m getting behind with everything, and spring is knocking on the door of the earth, wanting to push through, and I’m in a time of creativity and growth, which is exciting, but threatens to overwhelm,  then...
Eager and early

Eager and early

 Spring has come early this year, despite snowy setbacks and chilly chivying.  The magnolias are not worried. They are spreading their fragrance across the skies  and their beauty through the air, The little one is with me for the weekend, because the magnolias are...
Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?

Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?

 Today is the festival of Brigid, the maiden aspect of the ancient triple goddess. She returns at ‘First Light’, the half-way point between winter solstice and spring equinox.Brigid is associated with fire, creativity, poetry and healing. In Ireland people...
The best of winter treats

The best of winter treats

 Once again this year, I’ve given myself a winter retreat,  in the wild open spaces of the west coast, where clouds roll in from the sea, and the rocky lion roars through the night.  It’s warm and cosy in here, as we dine on delicious food in front of the...
How to greet a granny in a fog

How to greet a granny in a fog

Winter is full of slanting light, that breaks through the chill. In the school holidays, the little one and I  once again take time together. She is awaiting a visitor from across the sea and across the hemispheres. Her other granny is immigrating from China. We play...
Winter stories

Winter stories

We are in the coldest part of winter. Not a time to be alone, pecking at the edge of the tide for morsels.  No, it’s time for our annual midwinter dinner (two weekends ago). Our family links up with my friend and her daughter, and once again we are joined by the...
Always start with a sheep . . .

Always start with a sheep . . .

 It seemed a good idea at the time. Knitting quietly is my ideal way of welcoming in a new babe. But since using a computer, I can’t knit any more because I get RSI. It’s winter, and I need a project. So I had the great idea to order a kit-set baby quilt,...
Sail away, climb away

Sail away, climb away

Does winter ever get you down? Do you get that shut-in feeling when the rain pelts down and the wind blows icy tendrils down your neck and into your ears? Then it’s time for a winter walk. The sun is shining between showers and my friend wants to show me a new...
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Today marks the beginning of the Maori new year here in Aotearoa New Zealand. For this is the first new moon after the reappearance of Matariki, the little eyes (mata) of god (ariki).Matariki is the bringer of food, and so the appearance of this jewel-like...
The turning of the sun

The turning of the sun

Today I had a conversation with a friend, one of those exchanges that searches into forgotten places. It was about how we love the dark, and the way it holds so many secrets.  From the perspective of the darkness, the world outside changes shape.  The winter hills are...
Feeding body and soul

Feeding body and soul

 When I feed others, I too am nourished. Yesterday I led my first ‘Pathways to Spirited Ageing’ workshop, for counsellors and therapists. How satisfying it was to spend a day in the company of others who are willing to face into the ageing process with...
Rocks that float

Rocks that float

 This morning the weather was mild, and so the little one and I eagerly trotted down to the beach. She was here for a sleepover, such a treat for both of us. We never know what we are going to find at the beach. ‘Look, they are like rocks that float!’...
Do you ever wonder . . . ?

Do you ever wonder . . . ?

 Do you ever find yourself wondering, on a grey day without much sparkle,  amidst the inward-moving energies of winter,  about a particular person  whose anniversary it is? And you wonder, ‘how old would they be now, had they lived?’  I’ve stopped...
Lights of winter

Lights of winter

 It’s been a long time. At last a long weekend unfolded its fan of invitation before me, and of course I said yes!  In winter, I seek out what will light the inner fire. So on the way to the bach I turned up a steep driveway to the organic growers, knowing that...
A winter secret

A winter secret

In the dark of winter an eyelid is forming In the quiet of winter seeds are saved In the storms of winter a face sleeps In the hail and bite of winter a foot thumps Winter’s cloak wraps around us  while we wait. The season’s dark cave spins a welcome of...
Looking for light

Looking for light

 Do you know that feeling, when you’ve had to withdraw from life for a while, to spend time in the shadows, and then you know it’s time to emerge once more? The whole world looks brighter somehow. You see with fresh eyes. And you seek out what is light and...
Resonating with the dark

Resonating with the dark

 The old seasonal festivals have deep roots. Today is the half-way point between autumn equinox and winter solstice. We are on the threshold of winter, and we are harvesting nuts, apples, pumpkins and kumaras. We are also harvesting our memories, for this is the time...
Let’s look for treasure

Let’s look for treasure

 Easter (or thereabouts) is when I create a treasure hunt. I used to do one for my son, then for my granddaughter who is now 20, and now for the little one. First she has to ‘Look in the box where the music lives’. Aha, it’s Granny’s concertina...
Remembering the flat-topped cone

Remembering the flat-topped cone

 Puketapapa, meaning ‘flat-topped hill’ was the cone that watched over my high school years. We called it Mt Roskill in those days.Finding the best place to approach a cone is sometimes tricky, especially with this one, which from the main road is not very...
Beach-combing

Beach-combing

When a problem can’t be solved, especially one that keeps you bound to a computer screen, then it’s time to take a walk. Time to go to the beach in search of something you need. . .   And here are sign posts, pointing the way . . .  These guys are looking...
Sweet lingering

Sweet lingering

 We know that summer is over; yet the days are warm and still, and somehow in this golden glow of autumn a special feeling of gratitude sweeps down like a dove from the skies. I can taste the concentrated sweetness of summer in this papaya which melted in my mouth...
Walk with me

Walk with me

 You and I have arrived out west. The days have been so busy that we didn’t make it till early evening. There’s just time for a barefoot walk, out on the dunes. We walk out in this big open space, wondering if we’ll make it to the lake. Then, sensing...
Equinox Altars

Equinox Altars

Today is Autumn Equinox. Time to celebrate abundance and balance, for today the light and the dark are equal. Northern and Southern Hemispheres, whether in autumn or spring equinox, are poised in the balance of day and night.Here, summer is gently washing away as...
The Lost Cone

The Lost Cone

Last week my friend and I were ready to walk up one of the other volcanic cones: Mt Albert/Owairaka, the dwelling place of Wairaka. And who was Wairaka? Wairaka was a chief’s daughter who became renowned for her bravery. After the arrival of the tribe’s...
Last and the first

Last and the first

 On my way to the bach in the weekend, I bought blueberries, knowing that they will soon be coming to an end. I stopped at the organic growers and bought one of their last bags of beefsteak tomatoes. Look at them, so full of red richness, almost bursting out of their...
Reaching the summit

Reaching the summit

 We took a pause in the last post, as we climbed Maungawhau. It’s getting steep now, but the sun is reaching the high slopes  and illuminating the distant cone of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill).  Here we are, just one more scramble up the sides and we will have...
The highest one of all

The highest one of all

 Are you ready for a walk? You need to be fit for this one, because we will be climbing the highest of Auckland’s cones.  Most people drive to the top, but we can gently wind up the first part, following the paths and steps. The red colour of the path comes from...
My very own Valentine’s red letter day

My very own Valentine’s red letter day

It was actually the day after Valentine’s Day, but for me there were plenty of signs that this would be the One. The nikau palm in the morning sun was pointing its fingers eagerly, fanning out in excitement. The bach door, sporting its lucky horse-shoe, knew...
He climbed Ohinerangi first

He climbed Ohinerangi first

 The volcanic cone of Ohinerangi was renamed in 1841 by the first Governor of New Zealand. When he arrived here, he climbed Ohinerangi first of all, and like so many men of his day, renamed it after himself: Mt Hobson.  It was a steep climb we made on a hot day last...
The voice of a stream

The voice of a stream

 All streams have a voice. The small river of my childhood rattled and gurgled over stones as it tumbled its way down from the mountain. The brook of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin babbles and rolls along with a consistency that keeps the mill wheels turning.  Out on...
First Fruits

First Fruits

 Yesterday was our festival of First Fruits; halfway between summer solstice and autumn equinox. In the old Celtic calendar, this was Lugnasad, in honour of Lugh the grain god. Later it became Lammas, when loaves made from the first corn were brought into the churches...
King tide, and I took more than a plunge

King tide, and I took more than a plunge

 Today, out at the west coast, the day was looking promising. As far as the flax is concerned, summer is well advanced, enough to ripen the seed heads and lift them into the sky. They don’t care about the rainy windy episodes that have marked this season.  As I...
I think summer might have arrived today

I think summer might have arrived today

 Today the wind died down. And the sun shone all day. My mind didn’t want to focus on work, and so I packed my backpack and went to the beach.  Sitting under the trees, listening to the tide slipping across the sand and shells was soothing,  and I wondered if I...
A family of volcanoes

A family of volcanoes

 After climbing a steep flight of steps, we came to the crater. I love a natural pathway, especially a wavy one like this, with twists and turns. While waiting for Auckland’s summer to arrive, I’ve found that the beaches are not the place to be. Nearly...
Fullness

Fullness

 While I’ve been in emptiness, nature has been in great fullness.  Like the moon that flooded in my window last night. Just a little camera shake, and I have a heart, tipped on its side.  And I’m remembering my farewell to the bach. On the last evening I...
Return to nature

Return to nature

 I’ve been off-line, out in the wilds, on the edge of the Manukau harbour, taking time to be in the serenity of nature, listening to the rhythm of the tides.  But not alone. Once a year I take this time out with a community of people who care deeply about the...
Emptying out

Emptying out

Suddenly, after the excitement of holiday guests and then Christmas Day, with little voices shrill,  fast pattering feet, laughter and tears, tinsel and crumbs, feasting and fullness, everything has changed. And you gasp, like one who has descended too fast in an...
Ceremonies of gratitude and giving

Ceremonies of gratitude and giving

 At Summer Solstice we celebrate with a ritual of gratitude. ‘What is gratitude?’ asked the little one, who was joining in for the first time.  She had helped gather pohutukawa blossom for the ritual, and added bunny’s tail grasses. They look good...
Happy Summer Solstice!

Happy Summer Solstice!

 Happy Summer Solstice from the wild west coast of New Zealand.Yesterday the little one and I wandered up the stream, looking for lupins. We couldn’t find any, but we found plenty of other fiery flowers and leaves. And so, on the black sand, on a little island...
The other side of the street

The other side of the street

On Tuesday, for some reason, I decided to walk on the other side of the street on my way to the beach. Maybe I was drawn by the gentle blue of the jacaranda trees, or maybe it was because it was Tuesday, but the little one wasn’t with me. Our Tuesday afternoons...
I was a Xmas songbird

I was a Xmas songbird

Franklin Rd in Ponsonby is a long sloping through-route. In summer the trees arch over the whole road creating a spacious tunnel. I always love driving up this avenue.  Over the last 19 years, Franklin Rd has gathered a special reputation. First a few people began...
Soothing

Soothing

The trick at this time of the year is to stay cool. Everything is hotting up: the temperature, the pace of life, the energy of the sun rising to the solstice. The moon is swelling into fullness. Christmas is pumping out its demanding energy. The year is winding up and...
Thank you, rain

Thank you, rain

I hope you like green. Because this is a very green post.  After a dry spell, which had me anxious about how my seedlings were surviving out at the bach, the heavens opened and tipped bucket loads of water down from the skies, day after day. So when I arrived at the...
Slow mornings

Slow mornings

 Every now and then I have the luxury of a slow morning. No alarm clock. No early start with work appointments. Just relaxing into my own rhythm. Before breakfast I have a bounce on my rebounder while taking in the fresh morning air, letting my eyes sink into the...
Tomatoes across the world

Tomatoes across the world

 This post was created in my mind over a month ago. It’s been gestating slowly. I’ve always used only my own photos on this blog, but today I break the rules, and you will see why. It began when in the same week I read two posts from favourite blogging...
A line in the sand

A line in the sand

 Oh no! We’ve gone down to the beach to find the swing, but the tide is full and rushing in, and the little one won’t be able to swing today  —or so I thought. She has other ideas. Maybe she can’t swing, but the swing can have a swing! There it goes....
Making Mandalas

Making Mandalas

 Every year, as summer solstice and Christmas approach, I like to create a mandala out of natural materials, and then make it into my Solstice card.  It takes days of playing to get the one I want (none of these are ‘it’; I’m saving that one to show...
Sympathetic joy

Sympathetic joy

 Last night I helped create an altar for an Interfaith gathering on the theme of sympathetic joy. I forgot my camera, but someone let me use their cellphone to take a couple of photos. Sympathetic joy is celebrated by Buddhists, and means rejoicing in the happiness of...
Look what we found at the beach!

Look what we found at the beach!

 Oooh look! Someone has climbed high in the pohutukawa with a very strong rope  and made something that the little monkey just can’t resist.  It’s very securely wound around the branch and expertly knotted in place.  And now the sun has come out, making...
Spring gates

Spring gates

 Walking around the streets in spring, I find myself noticing new things. Like the gates.Some gates are inviting; you just want to go inside and be welcomed,  while others are clearly designed to keep you out. Some gates are disguised as sections of a fancy fence, yet...
Spring streets

Spring streets

 It’s spring, and the showers have stopped. Quick now, it’s time for a walk around the spring streets.  Time to see the life and growth, sprouting everywhere, in the hedges  in the forks of trees in the gardens. Creativity is bursting out everywhere....
The same thought

The same thought

  Spring was warming up a couple of weeks ago, and so I took the heavy brown woollen blanket off the bed. Instead of putting it away, I left it out, for the little one was coming to visit.As soon as she saw it, she said, ‘I could use that to make a...
Does it matter?

Does it matter?

 Does it matter that we celebrate seasonal festivals at the right point of the cycle? Here in New Zealand/Aotearoa all of nature is alive with growth.  The cabbage trees are profuse in their creamy flowers.  The whau is in flower. Everywhere, nature is greening.And so...
Cascades and Canopies

Cascades and Canopies

 Green tunnels are forming everywhere down the streets where I travel.  The spring growth is exuberant and the trees seem to be reaching up to the sky. Cascades of daisies tumble along the footpaths.  Spring knows no bounds.  Wistaria falls in creamy cascades, exuding...
The painted ladies want to dance

The painted ladies want to dance

 Ok girls, now that we’ve got our spring finery on, and it’s Saturday night, how about we go dancing?  Ooh, but have you peeped your fancy face around the corner? Don’t you know there’s a storm raging out there?  Mmm, see what you mean....
Turning the soil

Turning the soil

There’s something so hopeful about starting a new spring garden. It means a renewal of faith, investment in a new cycle, and commitment to seeing it through. I was out at the bach last weekend, and the earth was calling. It’s been so long since I’ve...
The incredible lightness of spring

The incredible lightness of spring

 At last I’m heading out west. And on the way I enjoy the many signs of spring: blossoms frothing out of the trees at the organic growers’ place,  the spray of new foliage in their orchard,  and coming up the driveway to the bach, these little blue flowers...
Let’s make . . .

Let’s make . . .

 At last, a bright, warm spring day! What shall we do?  Let’s dig in the sand. Let’s turn the darkness into a castle. Let’s make a flower castle!  Yes, we filled our bag with all that we would need, on our way here. The fairies will love this....
Did Persephone?

Did Persephone?

As I emerge from my dark descent, my thoughts have turned to the myth of Persephone and her return from the underworld.  Today at last the weather cleared for a moment, and I could welcome Persephone back by creating a sand sculpture on the beach. A poem arrived as...
Spring Equinox colour for you

Spring Equinox colour for you

 Today is spring equinox. Fragrant flowers are blooming everywhere and after a big electrical storm, the air is clear and warm.To celebrate, I made you a flower circle. I used to make these on the lawn when I was a child. If I’d lost a tooth, I’d hide it...
A child’s eyes

A child’s eyes

 When spring is full of turbulence, and you are struggling to throw off a winter virus that keeps returning to bite you in the throat, it’s time to look at life through a child’s eyes. ‘Look Granny, there’s a giant shoe in the water!’...
Time to sit

Time to sit

 Bringing the retreat home: one way to do this is to take time to sit. The early morning light was so beautiful that I had to draw up a chair, and sit, and watch. I thought of the first poem I ever memorised at school: What is this life if, full of care, We take no...
Making slow

Making slow

This post belongs to the day I set out on my retreat. I hope you enjoy it. This morning, I, the haste-maker, made slow; took time  to empty my bag, scour out fluff, pins and pills,  tug out the stiff black base, caress it with a warmed cloth, offer it to the sun...
A shell, a green leaf, and a mandala

A shell, a green leaf, and a mandala

 Trays of delicious food are brought to my room at meal-times, and I sit and eat in the quiet, gazing out to sea. This is such a treat, and a special part of this re-treat that I’ve given myself.  I have the space to write a hand-written letter to my friend, and...
Seeking simplicity

Seeking simplicity

 I’m on retreat. Life became too complex and I became winter-weary. Then a virus hit me hard and I’ve been slow to recover.It’s been a rich time since publishing my new book Spirited Ageing, setting up a new website (click here to take a look), and...
How to make a paper lantern

How to make a paper lantern

Start with an A4 pad of heavy paper or card (or choose a larger size if you like). Fold the long edge and notch it.  Then cut out ‘windows’. They can be any shape. Decorate around them with paints or coloured pencils.  Little ones will of course want to...
Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?

Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?

 Gathering at First Light/Imbolc/Brigid/Candlemas on August 2 was extra special this year, because our group was able to take a whole weekend together. One member, who has been living in England for many years now, was back in New Zealand and able to join us.We enjoy...
The story of the paua shell brooch (Part Two)

The story of the paua shell brooch (Part Two)

Dear reader, I grieved the loss of the brooch. I thought about it every day. I pictured it in my mind. I wanted to call it back.Then after a couple of weeks, I received a phone call from a woman who lives in Second-Street. She said, ‘The wind blew your notice...
Winter magic

Winter magic

 Are you ready for some winter magic? Come and join our midwinter dinner and ritual. It’s a little late this year, but at winter solstice some of us were away. Each year we gather around the fire for our midwinter feast and story telling. This year we were not...
Give me warmth, fragrance, colour

Give me warmth, fragrance, colour

 Times have changed in publishing. I love real books, but to sell my books overseas it looks like I might have to think about publishing an ebook next time.Ebooks have no smell or touch, unlike these hyacinths which made me dizzy with delight.  The ebook publishing...
Silver into gold

Silver into gold

In the depth of winter, colour recedes from the bach garden. But a new note is struck. Snowdrops hang their little bells so sweetly. I feel as fresh as a maiden when I look at them.  Rangiora nonchalantly flips over a leaf, to show the silver underside. One year I...
The feeding edge

The feeding edge

 The sun lingers on the inner harbour at the end of the day, and all is still. The concrete wall at the jetty is as warm as toast, even though the day is filled with winter chill, nippy winds and freezing wells of shade. But here I can snatch half an hour to do my tai...
Of suns, moons and magic

Of suns, moons and magic

 In the cold, frosty night after the storm had cleared, the full moon beamed down on us.  Meanwhile, by day I played with the sun, as if that would help it to return more quickly,  and the little one played with the shells again, creating ‘butterflies’...
Which Solstice?

Which Solstice?

Which Solstice is it for you today? If you are in the northern hemisphere, today is summer solstice.Here in the southern hemisphere, we are in the chill and dark of winter. But today is winter solstice, the turning of the sun.  On my walk I found these strange purple...
The stones are black, she said

The stones are black, she said

 ‘Look granny, the stones are black,’ said the little one as we breakfasted after her sleepover in the weekend. The rain was driving into the balcony, over the planter boxes and into places that are usually quite dry.                            ...
The red, the green, and the wise one speaks

The red, the green, and the wise one speaks

 The little one loves shells. To her, they are pure treasure. And so when she came to visit this afternoon, I had a box of my special shells waiting for her. I’d discovered it at the bach, and was glad I’d kept it so long without knowing why. While she...
Welcoming Matariki

Welcoming Matariki

 As Matariki – the Maori new year – approaches, the light changes.  The winter light turns thin and watery, casting deep shadows.  In the sky, a lost constellation is due to appear. Over the weekend, I went out to the bach. When I went outside at night,...
Last words

Last words

It’s a year today since my old school teacher, Jim Okeroa, died. I still miss him. This photo was taken when I went to Taranaki to launch my memoir, Touching Snow. It’s a favourite book, because it tells of my childhood and the years spent with this...
Poetry along the pathways

Poetry along the pathways

 Last weekend I attended a poetry workshop in a little room situated in a beautiful garden. Eden Garden was hewn out of a quarry and is like an oasis of calm in the midst of the city.Writing poetry means being willing to sit and be still, to take a little climb into a...
The white and the green

The white and the green

Winter has arrived uninvited, even though it is still May. Yesterday an icy blast swept the country, bringing snow to the south. In Dunedin, schools were closed as many roads were impassable. Ruth from Central Otago sent me this photo of her herb garden covered in...
Lantern magic

Lantern magic

 Tonight I was invited to the Steiner School, where the kindergarten pupils had been preparing all week for the annual Lantern Festival.  I was a little puzzled by the timing, since our Halloween has passed and winter solstice is a month away, but evidently the...
Autumn fruits

Autumn fruits

 Every season has its own special fruits. My eye was caught by these bright little berries, on the pavement by the library. They are titoki, and I posted about them the year I saw them for the first time. Titoki is one of our native trees, also known as NZ oak. This...
Red in autumn

Red in autumn

 Red leaves Scuttle in gangs Scratching the brickwork  Or  fan out, spreading their glory, while others drop to where they can dance more freely. I lift my head to enjoy their bright bunting hanging out against the sky, and my toes wriggle inside my autumn shoes,...
Lemon in autumn

Lemon in autumn

 New fruit crowds the lemon grove: unseemly jostling. Boronia leaves fan out against a terracotta step.  Flame tree turns lemon-leafed  this bright...
Barefoot through the hinterland

Barefoot through the hinterland

 Come with me; we are going to take off our shoes and walk through the hinterland.  I always loved that word, from when I first learned it at school. It means ‘the land behind the coast’, [German hinter: behind, plus land).I think of it as ‘the...
Kiwi Halloween tonight

Kiwi Halloween tonight

 Kiwi Halloween tonight, April 30, the night of the dead. Mira and I prepared the pumpkins. She loved popping out the ‘eyes’ from the inside, and watching the grin appear. Here they are, together with my black cloth, feathers, and flax woven bands, all...
Kumara dig with creature

Kumara dig with creature

 The kumara garden lies hidden between the dunes and the hill. Kumaras like a light, sandy soil, and so the location is perfect. For Maori, this area was a favoured food basket, where gardens could be cultivated close to the sea. With kumara and sea food, birds to...
Simplicity

Simplicity

 Life has been too busy, and so I’ve been craving simplicity.It was low tide, just before the rain returned with great enthusiasm, when I had an afternoon at the small local beach. A heron, came by, closer than usual.Oh, for the stillness of the heron! As I...
Harvest!

Harvest!

The mellowness of autumn is here. As I watch the evening light falling on the flame tree, making the trunk glow like the coals in a warm fire, I reflect on my own harvest. Yes, carton after carton arrived after being unloaded from the Cap Manuel, that sailed from Hong...
Adventure with a splash

Adventure with a splash

 When you are four and a half, and your legs are now strong, you are ready for a big adventure. Sometimes you like to go on alone, just to find out what’s around the next bend of the stream, and at other times, you like to go with your daddy and chatter and ask...
Easter treasure hunt

Easter treasure hunt

Every Easter for  my older granddaughter (now 18), I created a treasure hunt. And now it’s the little one’s turn. We actually began last year, and it was very simple: follow the yellow trail (See Trails and Treasure). But now, at four and a half,...
Walking the labyrinth

Walking the labyrinth

In the week before Easter, it is time to take my annual pilgrimage. I go to St Matthew-in-the-city, which I have visited at this time for the last four years.  There I find the labyrinth awaiting me. It is set out in river stones and candles each year, for the four...
Inky visitors

Inky visitors

It’s unusual to see black swans on the beach, but this pair was having a good time feeding at low tide.  Meanwhile, we were making a house for the fairies.  Another inky visitor, not usually found on the beach, came to visit, and tried to sit in the house, and...
My book is taking a boat trip!

My book is taking a boat trip!

 My book is taking an ocean voyage. Yes, on March 15,  the Cap Manuel set sail from Hong Kong, carrying 33 cartons of books.  My words are being tossed on the ocean waves. They are feeling the temperature change, as they sail from one hemisphere to the other, from...
Watching clouds

Watching clouds

 Have you ever heard of people who rush towards a volcano when they hear that it’s about to erupt? Well, I felt a bit like that as I drove out to the bach on the very weekend when rain could be falling. Rain, what’s that? We hadn’t seen any for...
Play date at the beach

Play date at the beach

 My friend and I met when our children were still small. Now we are both grandmothers, with a granddaughter each who is four years old. For a while we’ve spoken of getting them together. Yesterday it happened. We met at the beach, and the two little explorers...
My kingdom for a grass hook!

My kingdom for a grass hook!

 My little scythe, which evidently is called a grass hook, has broken. I inherited this implement with the bach some 40 years ago, and it has done many years of trusty service. It’s perfect for cutting the tough grass that grows along the pathways and steps, and...
Little monkey writes her first book

Little monkey writes her first book

The little monkey loves the sea, especially when it’s full tide and there are branches to swing on, and the water to catch her.Now that she’s with me every Wednesday afternoon, we are making the most of the warm weather to play on the beach and have a...
What’s that sound?

What’s that sound?

 Let me take you back a few days, to Sunday morning at the bach. I awoke to an unexpected, and almost unfamiliar sound. Could it be . . . ?  Could it be . . . . . RAIN?  It was. Drops settled like jewels on the grateful garden plants. The gentle shower turned the...
Walking barefoot under clouds (2)

Walking barefoot under clouds (2)

 The rest of our walk has a little story. First I must show you the floating fence. Fencing a sand-dune is not an easy proposition. But when the farmer whose land bordered 3/4 of the lake decided to sell and make this a public reserve, the farmer on the right held on...
Walking barefoot under clouds

Walking barefoot under clouds

 I’m glad it’s cloudy today. First, clouds are closer to rain than blue skies, and we do keep hoping for a very wet overnight rainfall. Second, I wanted to take you inland today. Even though the west coast beaches have reopened after a man was attacked by...
Cool Mango Lassi

Cool Mango Lassi

 When the weather is warm, day after day, and there’s no time for a swim because high tide falls in the middle of the day, then the next best thing is to make a cool mango lassi.First take a ripe mango, and make it smile.  Then chop pieces into a blender....
A bare-footed walk

A bare-footed walk

 It’s going to be a scorcher again. I’ve headed out to the west coast, and am hoping I’ve set out early enough to miss the heat of the day. Come with me, take off your shoes, and let’s walk the coastal track. It begins through grazed land. The...
Swim, swim, swim . . .

Swim, swim, swim . . .

 Afternoon tide all week, and I haven’t been able to resist the sea. This little beach is just five minutes walk away, and it’s well used. The locals start tripping down the steps as high tide approaches, all ready to go. Some bring something to float on,...
Two buckets better than one

Two buckets better than one

 The golden summer continues. While clouds drifted through my weekend at the bach, nothing but a fine drizzle eventuated.  And so, carrying water up the steps to the garden continues. This time, I brought my new bucket, so that I could carry more water with each trip...
Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

 We’ve just passed Chinese New Year. In Hong Kong, where my book is being printed, the celebrations last all week and the printing press closes down. I like to imagine that the ink is drying on the printed insides of the books right now. My Tai Chi teacher,...
Water

Water

 Water is the main thing on my mind in this dry summer. Will the bach garden be OK! I didn’t get out there last weekend and so it’s been two weeks since I’ve been able to carry my buckets-full of water up to the garden.I was greeted with a surprise:...
First Fruits celebration

First Fruits celebration

 First Fruits is a special celebration, for it’s about appreciating the first produce of the season. Also known as Lugnasad by the Celts, or Lammas in the Christian tradition, it lies half-way between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox. A Maori saying for this...
Ironballs & swimming in the cocoon

Ironballs & swimming in the cocoon

In the perfect summer weather of the long weekend, the sun was up, melting the hill, while the bach was still sleeping in the shade.It’s always special when the family comes to share the bach with me. The little one says she loves it, because ‘I can swim...
Carry water

Carry water

In the dry heat at the bach, at first I flop.  But the garden is crying with dryness. Weakened plants attract pests. The tomatoes have a serious thirst.And so I begin to carry water, bucket after bucket, up the steps and into the garden. I’m glad I’m not a...
Parched

Parched

 Finally, having found the last mistakes and given my approval to Hong Kong, the printing press is clicking over, and my pages are being printed.It’s been exhausting, being not only a writer but now a publisher (like so many writers, I’m now going it alone...
Taking refuge

Taking refuge

 As I do another round of proof-reading, this time the ‘dye-lines’ from Hong Kong (I wrote sky-lines so you can tell where my thoughts are drifting to), my mind is wandering. The dye-lines are a mockup of the whole book, but at a low and slightly fuzzy...
Greening again

Greening again

Huia lies on the southern side of the Waitakeres. It is named after a bird, which is now extinct.How to care for this beautiful earth of ours was a subject very much on the minds of the seventy people, including families with young children, who gathered to camp,...
A big sigh

A big sigh

  Summertime, and a big sigh could be heard along the coast; a sigh like the tide going out, and then lazily swishing in again. . . That big sigh was me, breathing in relief to know that my book has safely arrived in Hong Kong today, after flying through cyberspace.My...
Welcoming Esmeralda

Welcoming Esmeralda

 She has arrived, and deserved a special welcome. So I cleared my desk, which was bearing the evidence of much activity, with piles of papers everywhere. I cleaned the desk too, and brought in special objects. Because Esmeralda is going to make life a lot easier for...
Making marks

Making marks

 Making a mark. It’s such a basic urge, and when I’m at the beach, I can’t resist. The sand is so yummy to carve in, and there are plenty of sharp shells around to make the perfect markers.  Mira can’t resist either. At four and a half,...
Bush telegraph

Bush telegraph

 The storm was clearing, the morning warm. On my way down to the jetty to do my tai chi, I met Roger, one of the apartment dwellers, climbing the steps on his way home. ‘I’ve been out fishing already,’ he said, ‘and I’ve had a...
Fusion Xmas – finally!

Fusion Xmas – finally!

I’m delighted to be posting again. Because you see, my laptop died on Christmas Day – well almost. It seems it was in the last throes, but was able to emit its data to my new one – but very slowly. It took 2 days and 2 nights, with a fan heater set...
First swim

First swim

When you are four years old, your first surf swim of the year is exciting. Especially when the waves are big and foaming and bucking like wild ponies. But when you have a strong daddy to hold on to, you know you are safe, and so you squeal and shriek with pleasure. A...
First swim

First swim

When you are four years old, your first surf swim of the year is exciting. Especially when the waves are big and foaming and bucking like wild ponies. But when you have a strong daddy to hold on to, you know you are safe, and so you squeal and shriek with pleasure. A...
For you, at Solstice

For you, at Solstice

 Here at the bach, life is simple. No shops, no piped water, no through roads; and so gifts must be conjured up out of whatever nature provides. For solstice, I have made you a basket. Because it’s summer solstice today in New Zealand, little suns dance around...
For you, at Solstice

For you, at Solstice

 Here at the bach, life is simple. No shops, no piped water, no through roads; and so gifts must be conjured up out of whatever nature provides. For solstice, I have made you a basket. Because it’s summer solstice today in New Zealand, little suns dance around...
The troll and the fairy

The troll and the fairy

The stream runs quietly down to the sea from the bush clad hills of the Centennial Memorial Park.  The waters are flanked by wild flowers and under the bridge lives a troll  who has to be appeased with feasts of fish, chocolate drink, and soup, all gathered from the...
The troll and the fairy

The troll and the fairy

The stream runs quietly down to the sea from the bush clad hills of the Centennial Memorial Park.  The waters are flanked by wild flowers and under the bridge lives a troll  who has to be appeased with feasts of fish, chocolate drink, and soup, all gathered from the...
My turn now

My turn now

 The bach is wrapped around with a shawl of mist. The shawl has floated down from the cloud-filled sky and softly caressed the hill tops.I am enveloped in sweet solitude as I recover from a life with too many details in it. Soft focus is perfect. And what’s more...
My turn now

My turn now

 The bach is wrapped around with a shawl of mist. The shawl has floated down from the cloud-filled sky and softly caressed the hill tops.I am enveloped in sweet solitude as I recover from a life with too many details in it. Soft focus is perfect. And what’s more...
Songs for Franklin Rd

Songs for Franklin Rd

 Franklin Road is a very wide street in Ponsonby. Great trees arch across the road and intertwine their leafy canopies throughout the summer. There is also something else that is special about Franklin Rd.  Little by little, over the years, the residents have adopted...
Songs for Franklin Rd

Songs for Franklin Rd

 Franklin Road is a very wide street in Ponsonby. Great trees arch across the road and intertwine their leafy canopies throughout the summer. There is also something else that is special about Franklin Rd.  Little by little, over the years, the residents have adopted...
How we flowered!

How we flowered!

 Everything is flowering profusely on the west coast this summer. Manuka and kanuka with their tiny white flowers give the hillsides a star-dusty look. My women’s group, that celebrates seasonal festivals together, gathered for a weekend together  in my...
How we flowered!

How we flowered!

 Everything is flowering profusely on the west coast this summer. Manuka and kanuka with their tiny white flowers give the hillsides a star-dusty look. My women’s group, that celebrates seasonal festivals together, gathered for a weekend together  in my...
Oh how we sang!

Oh how we sang!

 We have just had our annual concert. This is the 4th year now that I’ve been singing with the Voice Club – 70 to 80 of us who love to sing. We are directed by the talented David Tillinghast, who does some amazing arrangements, often with zany rhythms....
Oh how we sang!

Oh how we sang!

 We have just had our annual concert. This is the 4th year now that I’ve been singing with the Voice Club – 70 to 80 of us who love to sing. We are directed by the talented David Tillinghast, who does some amazing arrangements, often with zany rhythms....
Spring playfulness

Spring playfulness

 Yes, I know that spring has just officially ended. But I’ve been busy, as you know, with book production. And I must show you what I’ve been collecting over the last few weeks. First of all, leaves peeping cheekily out through a fence.  Then there was...
Spring playfulness

Spring playfulness

 Yes, I know that spring has just officially ended. But I’ve been busy, as you know, with book production. And I must show you what I’ve been collecting over the last few weeks. First of all, leaves peeping cheekily out through a fence.  Then there was...
Quietly feeding

Quietly feeding

   I needed stillness. The end of the year always brings extra pressures. This year, out of the blue, and in the midst of bringing my new book to completion, an unexpected deadline arrived.Five of my previously published books have won funding to be converted into...
Quietly feeding

Quietly feeding

   I needed stillness. The end of the year always brings extra pressures. This year, out of the blue, and in the midst of bringing my new book to completion, an unexpected deadline arrived.Five of my previously published books have won funding to be converted into...
Planting memories

Planting memories

 At the beginning of November it was the first anniversary of the death of my dear mother-in-law, Elizabeth. She was 95 and we had been friends for over 40 years.When there has been a big loss, I always like to plant something. As the plant unfolds, so do my...
Planting memories

Planting memories

 At the beginning of November it was the first anniversary of the death of my dear mother-in-law, Elizabeth. She was 95 and we had been friends for over 40 years.When there has been a big loss, I always like to plant something. As the plant unfolds, so do my...
Midlife at Piha

Midlife at Piha

This weekend I was invited to Piha, on Auckland’s west coast. A group of women asked me to lead them in a workshop on midlife, based on my book Growing into Wisdom.  The organiser graciously hosted us in her own home, which perches high on a hillside. It’s...
Midlife at Piha

Midlife at Piha

This weekend I was invited to Piha, on Auckland’s west coast. A group of women asked me to lead them in a workshop on midlife, based on my book Growing into Wisdom.  The organiser graciously hosted us in her own home, which perches high on a hillside. It’s...
Dancing with leaves

Dancing with leaves

 Remember how I posted about Mira and I collecting spring leaves (and the odd petal) to press between the leaves of a heavy book? The post was called ‘Taking a leaf out of Nature’s book’ and if you missed it, click here to take a...
Dancing with leaves

Dancing with leaves

 Remember how I posted about Mira and I collecting spring leaves (and the odd petal) to press between the leaves of a heavy book? The post was called ‘Taking a leaf out of Nature’s book’ and if you missed it, click here to take a...
The quiet of the turning tide

The quiet of the turning tide

 The low tide is silent. No waves, no lapping against the shore, no rush of salt water, just quietness.  The only movement comes from the hop of a blackbird as I draw near.  A heron feeds, serenely. And another waterbird paddles along at a contented space. From the...
The quiet of the turning tide

The quiet of the turning tide

 The low tide is silent. No waves, no lapping against the shore, no rush of salt water, just quietness.  The only movement comes from the hop of a blackbird as I draw near.  A heron feeds, serenely. And another waterbird paddles along at a contented space. From the...
Goodbye, hello

Goodbye, hello

As I was doing my tai chi on the balcony, I looked to the east and noticed that the flame tree was waving goodbye, with the last of the red flowers that have cheered me through the winter. And then as I turned my head to the west, I caught sight of the first...
Goodbye, hello

Goodbye, hello

As I was doing my tai chi on the balcony, I looked to the east and noticed that the flame tree was waving goodbye, with the last of the red flowers that have cheered me through the winter. And then as I turned my head to the west, I caught sight of the first...
Taking a leaf out of Nature’s book

Taking a leaf out of Nature’s book

 Today Mira and I are pressing leaves. We choose the ones we like best, pohutukawa, ivy . . .  trying to find leaves that are in good shape. The lime tree leaves look as if they could cut your skin, but really they are very soft.  We found a few toon leaves that are...
Taking a leaf out of Nature’s book

Taking a leaf out of Nature’s book

 Today Mira and I are pressing leaves. We choose the ones we like best, pohutukawa, ivy . . .  trying to find leaves that are in good shape. The lime tree leaves look as if they could cut your skin, but really they are very soft.  We found a few toon leaves that are...
Celebrating Beltane

Celebrating Beltane

 With a group of women I’ve been celebrating our southern seasons for over 25 years. Beltane has just passed, and this time we turned up at the house of our oldest member, bringing what we thought was fitting for the season. Quite spontaneously, the colour theme...
Celebrating Beltane

Celebrating Beltane

 With a group of women I’ve been celebrating our southern seasons for over 25 years. Beltane has just passed, and this time we turned up at the house of our oldest member, bringing what we thought was fitting for the season. Quite spontaneously, the colour theme...
Singing of green

Singing of green

 In the northern hemisphere, you are on the threshold of Halloween, and on the east coast of America, you are being lashed with fierce storms. Here it is Beltane, the season of peak green, the spring festival. The sun is shining and the leaves are frothing from the...
Singing of green

Singing of green

 In the northern hemisphere, you are on the threshold of Halloween, and on the east coast of America, you are being lashed with fierce storms. Here it is Beltane, the season of peak green, the spring festival. The sun is shining and the leaves are frothing from the...
Beans & candles

Beans & candles

I got them in just in time. Six bean plants for the coming summer.  and just for fun I popped nasturtium flowers on the ground between them, not exactly companion planting perhaps, more like companionable planting, to cheer up the beans. Because the weather was...
Beans & candles

Beans & candles

I got them in just in time. Six bean plants for the coming summer.  and just for fun I popped nasturtium flowers on the ground between them, not exactly companion planting perhaps, more like companionable planting, to cheer up the beans. Because the weather was...
Time to go

Time to go

 The waders were enjoying the golden day too  but then, all together, they decided something  Yes, it’s time to go.  Come on, there’s a change in the air, and we’ve got to get back Quickly now, let’s go. They were right, and in my next post...
Time to go

Time to go

 The waders were enjoying the golden day too  but then, all together, they decided something  Yes, it’s time to go.  Come on, there’s a change in the air, and we’ve got to get back Quickly now, let’s go. They were right, and in my next post...
A golden day

A golden day

 I’m back at last, and I’ve missed you all. After two weeks of I.T. challenges, including the loss of all my photos, I am (almost back on track). A couple of hours ago my photos were restored (however now I can’t send emails!) But enough of that,...
A golden day

A golden day

 I’m back at last, and I’ve missed you all. After two weeks of I.T. challenges, including the loss of all my photos, I am (almost back on track). A couple of hours ago my photos were restored (however now I can’t send emails!) But enough of that,...
The waves are waiting

The waves are waiting

The ocean is waiting. I’m off to the coast tomorrow, to watch the waves, breathe the fresh air, and let go of trying to do the impossible.My computer is going to hospital over the weekend, for a transplant that will end up making it just like new (so I’m...
The waves are waiting

The waves are waiting

The ocean is waiting. I’m off to the coast tomorrow, to watch the waves, breathe the fresh air, and let go of trying to do the impossible.My computer is going to hospital over the weekend, for a transplant that will end up making it just like new (so I’m...
Feasting on flowers

Feasting on flowers

 I promised myself I would resist blogging this week. I need to focus, I said, on the task of processing the editorial changes for my new book. This is a complex stage of book production, and I wanted to make good progress on it. But hidden among the leaves, great...
Feasting on flowers

Feasting on flowers

 I promised myself I would resist blogging this week. I need to focus, I said, on the task of processing the editorial changes for my new book. This is a complex stage of book production, and I wanted to make good progress on it. But hidden among the leaves, great...
Fine ladies want to play

Fine ladies want to play

 It’s spring and I have my finery on. Don’t I look gorgeous?  My friend is still shedding a bit of winter bad-hair, but I still think she looks a treat. And we want to play! But the weather teases us, with a flash of sun, followed by cloud, wind and rain....
Fine ladies want to play

Fine ladies want to play

 It’s spring and I have my finery on. Don’t I look gorgeous?  My friend is still shedding a bit of winter bad-hair, but I still think she looks a treat. And we want to play! But the weather teases us, with a flash of sun, followed by cloud, wind and rain....
Lost among the leaves

Lost among the leaves

I’ve been lost for days, among leaves of a certain kind, leafing through four previous books and comparing the words with those on screen. Attending to the weighty task of Digital Conversion (which means turning printed books to e-books), and feeling the pinch,...
Lost among the leaves

Lost among the leaves

I’ve been lost for days, among leaves of a certain kind, leafing through four previous books and comparing the words with those on screen. Attending to the weighty task of Digital Conversion (which means turning printed books to e-books), and feeling the pinch,...
Nature’s playground (2)

Nature’s playground (2)

 Did you ever make daisy chains when you were a child? I can remember sitting on the grass, threading daisies together, while my aunt Jessie worked in her garden.On our way back from the beach, the little fairy discovered a lawn full of daisy heads, popping up...
Nature’s playground (2)

Nature’s playground (2)

 Did you ever make daisy chains when you were a child? I can remember sitting on the grass, threading daisies together, while my aunt Jessie worked in her garden.On our way back from the beach, the little fairy discovered a lawn full of daisy heads, popping up...
Nature’s playground

Nature’s playground

Life has been rather serious. Doing lots of things that require focus. Proof-reading, editing, planning,  teaching preparation, organising. It’s time to play. The karo flowers, with their deep red curling petals, are dropping everywhere. What would they look...
A Magnolia Moment

A Magnolia Moment

 I was struggling up a hill, on my walk to the library. My head was full of lists, tasks done and undone, and my bones were sore.  I smelt the blossom before I saw it. Such is the way of things when Spring bounces out from behind gloomy grey clouds and presents her...
How to arrive at a bach

How to arrive at a bach

 First, make sure it’s still there. Yes, there it is, peeping through the trees. Say hello. Then check the vegetable garden; see what’s grown (beside weeds). Note, from the corner of your eye, all the maintenance tasks that are jumping up and down to get...
Wheee! It’s gone!

Wheee! It’s gone!

 The tulips are dancing. Today I sent off my manuscript to the editor. It’s a big moment, a time to pause, a time of truce, having to accept that it’s the best that I can do for now.  Only 3 days ago the tulips were just coming into bud. Mysterious. What...
Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning

 Do you ever have a day when the energy of the season sweeps right through you, carrying you with it?Such a day happened earlier this week. The sky was clear, the day warm, the tide high and the air singing a song of change.  I began to clean and to clear. Old musty...
Spring birth

Spring birth

I am so lucky to have been born just as spring was gathering her skirts, ready to leap and dance. Yesterday was a great celebration of my birthday.I want to share my spring bouquets with you: first begonias, looking as if they would burst out of their container with...
A flotilla sails by

A flotilla sails by

 It was raining the day that little Miss Bangles came to visit. Never mind, I’d just brought back a treasure box after my breakaway trip to the bach. She wanted to explore and unpack every bag. First the bleached mussel shells . . .  Then the bag of coloured...
Breakaway Day

Breakaway Day

 Do you ever yearn to break out, get away from it all, find wide open spaces where you can breathe freely and leave behind everything that has been clamouring to be done?  Today was such a day for me. I knew I had to head west.To do so I first had to break away from...
Seeking brightness

Seeking brightness

 What’s the use of sitting at a computer, revising chapter eight of my book, when I feel my energy flagging? Post-viral fatigue is wrapping around me like a musty old jacket. There’s only one solution. Get outside into the morning sun. Seek out brightness....
Yum!

Yum!

 When you are four, and you’ve discovered a little box of biscuit cutters in your toy box, well of course you want to try them out. So you make your grandmother promise. And of course she says yes. Because she has a sweet place in her heart that melts when you...
Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?

Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in?

Brigid, (Imbolc) fell on August 2—halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. I always love this festival because it signals the return of spring, and marks a quickening of energy. Brigid was the Celtic goddess of fire and inspiration. In my book, Celebrating...
My friend

My friend

We met on the equator. No land was in sight. Yet the crew of ‘The Fairsea’ knew exactly when we were to ‘cross the line’ and held a ceremony to mark the moment. That’s when I saw her, a beautiful young bride, dancing with her new husband....
Signs

Signs

Psst! Don’t tell a soul. But I caught a whiff of fragrance this morning and found this . . . and then discovered that the tulips Mira and I planted are doing this . . .  (one for every year of her life; she turns 4 tomorrow) And the daphne bush is doing this . ....
The Answer to Stark

The Answer to Stark

It’s cold but bright. In the afternoon I heard a song that has been absent for months. Yes, the tui has returned, and here it is, eating the golden melia berries. Usually the tuis like nectar best, but I guess in late winter, a bird can’t be too choosy.  A...
Warming up winter

Warming up winter

 How to warm up the winter nights. Take one cup of lentils.  Soak for a few hours  Add chopped winter vegetables: carrots, pumpkins, parsnips, swedes.  Stir in the last of the beefsteak tomatoes from the west coast greenhouse. But first gently fry onion, ginger, and...
Little Miss Fun

Little Miss Fun

When little Miss Fun comes to visit, the winter days are brightened. We have Conversations. She tells me about her ‘friends’. One is called Rabbit, and the other ‘Rainy Day’. That’s handy. She’ll be seeing a lot of that friend at...
In the quiet of winter

In the quiet of winter

 In the quiet of winter, I notice things that would pass unseen in the colourful, distracting days of summer. I discover textures, and subtle colours, such as this wall. I notice two brave shoots that have pierced the stony ground.  The colours of a simple brick wall...
Serious rain

Serious rain

 As I drove home from visiting a ninety-year old in a Rest Home across the other side of town, the heavens opened.  My windscreen wipers were going at top speed, but still I could hardly see. Some cars stopped.  It was a relief to get home safely, but soon I was out...
Two faces of winter

Two faces of winter

 As I do my Tai Chi by the sea, I look back and see the bare-limbed face of winter. It’s the flame tree, whose branches from this angle seem to be scratching the sky. All the leaves are gone now, and the shape of the tree is revealed.  When I look back to the...
Winter Solstice/Matariki

Winter Solstice/Matariki

Our winter solstice celebration was a little late this year, having to be postponed from last week. All the same, we entered into the mystery of this time. We began by viewing a brief video clip of the solstice sunrise at NewGrange, in Ireland. You can see it on...
Solstice Visitors

Solstice Visitors

 The word has got out. Yesterday was winter solstice, marking the return of the sun. The day before yesterday was Matariki, the Maori new year, marking the return of Matariki (the Pleiades). Who knows where this monarch flew from, but this morning here it was,...
Mist

Mist

On Saturday morning at the bach, I was up early, for an international conference call, before the big event of the day. The valley was shrouded in mist and the air was chill.  The big event took place later in the morning, as with two friends I walked the bush block...
The good earth

The good earth

 As I drove out to the bach, I wondered if the persimmons at the organic growers would be ripe. Were they ever! I had to stop at the bottom of the drive to photograph the orchard.  The laden branches were quivering with the excited squawks of minahs, who were going...
Bach in midwinter

Bach in midwinter

 It was cold and damp when I arrived at the bach. It’s been a few weekends since my last visit, and in winter the walls turn cold in the absence of someone to light a fire or turn on a heater.But look! – the snow drops are out. Ever since I was a child...
Winter magic

Winter magic

Today summer came to visit, in the form of Mira, a sunny day, and a ramble to the beach. Everything becomes timeless as I watch her becoming absorbed in collecting ‘treasures’ in her yellow bucket.  The tide was up, sliding over the sun-warmed sand, and...
Resting in peace

Resting in peace

Thank you, all, for your interest in my beloved teacher Jim Okeroa, who was buried at Parihaka yesterday.I want to share with you how he passed on the gift of peace to me. This is one side of the monument that was erected at Parihaka to Te Whiti o Rongomai, a great...
Requiem sky

Requiem sky

 This poem, for my dear old teacher who has just died, begins with a line from Cecilia’s blog http://thekitchensgarden.com/2012/05/31/the-sleepy-eye-of-my-mindBesides bringing a small farm back to health in the U.S. prairies, Cecilia cares for the health of the...
A light has gone out

A light has gone out

He was my light house, when I was a child and school was tough. Rural New Zealand was not the place for bright, imaginative kids. These were the days of rote learning and corporal punishment. In my memoir, I devoted a whole chapter to the best teacher I would ever...
Winter dawn

Winter dawn

 I am not a dawn bird. I sing my song at sunset, not sunrise. But now that the nights are longer, an early morning meeting meant that I was up at dawn. Shivering in the cold, I opened the blinds and discovered this glowing sky. Half an hour later, I was on an...
Two faces of winter

Two faces of winter

A kingfisher sits on the jetty alone. A cold wind is blowing. I approach to begin my tai chi and the kingfisher flies away. The flame tree is losing its leaves. Already the top is bare, while the last of the lower foliage catches the sun and prepares to drop.  The...
Continuity

Continuity

 I’ve scooped out the seeds from the pumpkin-that-grew-itself at the bach. Saving the seeds of the best plant, in order to sow them in the spring, is the way to ensure a successful crop next year. This pumpkin deserved to be saved, for it grew through a season...
Mountains and mounds

Mountains and mounds

 I’ve completed my pilgrimage to Taranaki. After flying in to New Plymouth, I took a shuttle to connect with the one bus per week that goes to Opunake, on the far side of the mountain. Taranaki is a circle, with the mountain in the middle. The first thing I do...
Of cooking and card houses

Of cooking and card houses

 Mira is cooking for me today. ‘Here’s a stir fry for you, with frogs and berries.’Oh, yum. Then we had one with fish. Then some sticks were thrown in, as carrots. But ‘no biscuits today, sorry.’  Then it’s time to make a card...
Transience

Transience

 Doing Tai Chi on the beach, this cool morning, I find myself reflecting on permanence – as in the rock. and transience – as in the autumn leaf.My old school teacher awakened my creativity with puppet-making & shows, singing, drawing, and decorating....
Watery

Watery

 The golden days of Indian summer are over, and the rain is falling. Moisture everywhere, with puddles that reflect the watery sky.  Mist envelops the view as I do Tai Chi in the soft rain, and the tide laps soothingly close to my feet. The pohutukawa, that was ablaze...
Beach Cooking

Beach Cooking

I’m cooking dinner for me and Granny. You have to stir things properly to cook dinner.  Here are some carrots, and some spinach and pumpkin.  We need some seaweed and spices. Here they come, the sea is bringing them.  I’ve got a bucket-full now, with tofu...
Moon mysteries

Moon mysteries

To the ancient Greeks, the moon had three aspects. The new moon was associated with the maiden Artemis: young, sharp and full of hope. The full moon was the mother: woman in her full fertility: Selene. The waning moon was linked with the crone: woman in her ageing,...
Among the leaves

Among the leaves

 This is a season of change, falling leaves, and the loosening of memory. And this autumn, amongst leaves of another kind, I discovered a gift. I was sorting the last of my mother-in-law’s papers. She died in November, aged 95.It was tempting to throw out the...
Halloween Aotearoa

Halloween Aotearoa

 It was the young people who made Kiwi Halloween special this year. They were so inventive with their carving of apples, kumara and pumpkins, and it was touching to see their cards written beside the lanterns and candles. Often it was grandparents whom they were...
Pumpkin carving

Pumpkin carving

 Inside the buttercup pumpkin, once the lid has been removed, a golden flower awaits discovery.  Cutting out the lid is the first step in carving the pumpkin for Halloween. Here in New Zealand Halloween falls on April 30. Each year I hold Ponsonby Halloween on the...
Remembrance

Remembrance

Today is Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance, in honour of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought heroically at Gallipoli during the second world war. It has now been extended to include all those who have died fighting for their countries. This...
Autumn light

Autumn light

 All is forgiven, and forgotten. We may not have had a summer this year, but autumn is generous with warmth. Just before sunset each evening, my home is flooded with golden light  which casts mysterious shadows  with colours deepening into russet,  rendering the melia...
Autumn beach games

Autumn beach games

 It’s one of those golden autumn afternoons, and down at the sheltered little beach nearby, the weather feels almost as warm as summer. Mira and I start by collecting pohutukawa leaves and admiring their colours. The yellow ones tend to be spotted, the red are...
Fires and friendship

Fires and friendship

 I took a friend out to the bach for the weekend. We enjoyed our first fires, with pine cones burning brightly.  Weeding the garden together, and harvesting my one pumpkin.  Walking to the beach, enjoying the freedom of open space, and the sweep of the lagoon and...
Chestnut memories

Chestnut memories

Here’s another autumn delight: chestnuts have arrived. I prepare a feast of chestnuts and baked new seasons butternut. As they emerge from the oven, and I cut open the first chestnut, that freshly roasted smell brings a memory wafting in.I am in Cornwall, on my...
Trails & treasure

Trails & treasure

 I love the way the autumn light stretches its long arms into my apartment. In the morning the sun reaches and touches forgotten places, bringing warmth. Trails of light. Maybe that’s what gave me the idea. Then there was the brightly flowering buttercup tree...
Pine cone memories

Pine cone memories

 I know this pine forest well, because I used to live nearby. After a run of fine days, I knew that the ground under the pine trees would have dried out. I also knew where the tall trees were,  the ones that drop plenty of pine cones, from their heads high up in the...
Beside the bridge

Beside the bridge

 It’s a favourite walk of mine, along the waterfront towards the harbour bridge. The bridge spans the harbour with a quiet dignity.   It’s also the favourite spot of those who love to fish.They bring their buckets of bait, cast their lines, and settle down...
The Broken Book

The Broken Book

My thoughts often turn to Christchurch. When the weather is clear and serene, as it has been this Easter, I feel glad that Christchurch is getting a break. Whenever I hear of something good happening in Canterbury, I stop to give thanks. Just over a year ago I was...
Serene Sunday

Serene Sunday

 Come with me for an early morning walk at The Moorings. We go down the drive way to the narrow tiled path that leads to the jetty. We pass hibiscus and bird of paradise, brightly flowering.  A bumble bee clumsily bumbles its way through the flowering rosemary, but...
Bright Easter

Bright Easter

 The forecast for Easter was rain storms and wind. But the days leading up to Good Friday have been surprisingly warm and sunny, and the little boats have been out on the water again.  They must be novice sailors, young people perhaps, because the support vessel...
Easter labyrinth

Easter labyrinth

Easter in the southern hemisphere is a time for turning within, and going into darkness. Once again, St Matthews in the City has created a labyrinth out of river stones, and has opened it to the public. Walking the labyrinth has become an annual pilgrimage for me. The...
Sails in the sunlight

Sails in the sunlight

What a surprise, to look out my window and see a red sail. Someone was out there, enjoying this beautiful fine day. And then there were more and more still all colours, it seemed. Later in the afternoon, I took a walk and watched the yachts scudding up and down while...
Harvested!

Harvested!

It’s done! Dear blog friends, I have just brought in the harvest of over two year’s work: my new book.I like to savour such moments. Before I set out to walk to the post shop, I enjoyed crunching into one of these ‘NZ Beauty’ apples, which are...
Autumn gift

Autumn gift

This autumn gift arrived today from the south island. Here it is, freshly unwrapped from its litttle box.  What is it? I’ve never seen such a thing before. Here’s a clue: my fingers were sticky as I unpacked it, and when I licked them – yumm!...
Tasty equinox

Tasty equinox

It’s autumn equinox, the rain is falling – three month’s worth in 24 hours up north, creating more floods. And yet the fruits are ripe and lush. I visit some blogs where people post delicious food that they’ve cooked, and my mouth waters....
Low tide, west coast

Low tide, west coast

Yesterday was cloudy and the beach a little sombre, with the tide right out and the clouds darkening overhead.  I took my friends from England down to the south end of the beach, where driftwood curled into strange shapes, looped and tangled with kelp and debris.  The...
Tick tock, dandelion clock

Tick tock, dandelion clock

One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four.  Summer’s gone, it’s out the door It didn’t come here anyway Still the children want to play. It’s been a month since I visited the bach, and here I am, blessed with that rare...
Sandspit, tides and play

Sandspit, tides and play

Sandspit is an hour’s drive north of Auckland. There we headed for a family weekend, as the unexpectedly fine day began to gather clouds. There’s something soothing about estuaries, and watching the tide slip in and out, changing the beachscape as it goes....
The Garden fairy visits again

The Garden fairy visits again

 The first thing the visiting fairy said to me was, ‘Help me put on my wings.’ Of course I did. A fairy must be able to fly.  In return, she set to work trying out my new blue watering can and making sure all the plants had a good drink. She visits me...
The other side of the storm

The other side of the storm

A ‘storm bomb’ hit New Zealand this weekend, hurtling across the Tasman Sea from Australia. We had planned to arrive at Half Moon Bay, where the class reunion was held, by ferry. ‘Not safe,’ decided my friend’s husband, who drove us...
Chasing the wind

Chasing the wind

We don’t mind windy days, little Mira and me. When we notice the wind is blowing, we look at each other and say, ‘Windmills!’ And out to the balcony we run, to see if we can catch the wind. Sometimes we have it, and sometimes not. It’s...
The healing of communities

The healing of communities

I visited the eco-community of Earthsong last weekend for a book launch. Here’s the title of the book by Vivian Hutchinson. It’s full of stories about social entrepreneurs, and the difference they have made in their New Zealand communities. Earthsong is a...
In memoriam: Christchurch

In memoriam: Christchurch

For all those affected by the devastating Canterbury earthquake of February 22, 2011. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Here is the quote I posted last year, when I made a symbol on the beach after the earthquake: By not wanting, there is calm And the world will...
Neptune’s necklace/Aphrodite’s pearls

Neptune’s necklace/Aphrodite’s pearls

Every tide brings a different treasure. This is what I’m discovering as I do my Tai Chi by the sea each morning. The tide is right out now, and the air smells tangy. One of my favourite seaweeds sprawls out across the rocks. It leaves a greeny-gold trail....
Tai Chi on the beach

Tai Chi on the beach

Every day is different, as I do my Tai Chi by the sea. The tides change, the weather changes, and the company changes. Today the tide was way out, and so I was able to scramble round to the little beach near the jetty and stand in the mottled shade as I did the...
The garden that grew by itself

The garden that grew by itself

 It’s a dream come true. I sometimes think I should give up on my bach garden, at least over summer, because if I’m away too long the soil dries out and the plants die. But this year, with rain every week of the summer, my dear little plants have grown...
Sociable species

Sociable species

The morning Tai Chi by the sea begins, with a lone seagull on the roof, and a lone shag on the boat ramp.  It’s a long boat ramp, with plenty of room. But where does the second shag land? Why, right beside the other one.  Then she decides she would prefer to sit...
First swim!

First swim!

I blush. It took till the 7th of February, when the day was bright and warm and it felt that yes, summer really has arrived, before I took my first swim. I lay on the beach at the end of the day with two friends. Two more, on the water, showed us how it’s done...
Morning light

Morning light

 The mornings are cooler now, down at the jetty. I’m noticing the diminishing light now that we’ve reached the half-way point between summer solstice and autumn equinox. But the quality of the light has become magical, bringing new beauty to this familiar...
Spreading one’s wings

Spreading one’s wings

 Mother shag is there again as I practise the Tai Chi movement ‘Spreading one’s wings’. She joins me.  Then she rises up on her feet, just as I am doing,  and sinks down again, with her wings still outstretched.  Then suddenly, she is gone. I just...
City sky

City sky

 I was sad to leave the bach and its magical skies. But look at this: here in the city, the scudding clouds that keep the sun away by day, create patterns of light in the evening. The wonder of nature is...
First Fruits Reflections

First Fruits Reflections

Today, February 2, is our First Fruits Festival.It is exactly half-way between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.While there is still plenty of light, the darkness is increasing.This is the time (in the Southern Hemisphere) of the Celtic Festival of Lugnasad, held in...
Happy trees

Happy trees

The wet summer has made the trees very happy. The hibiscus is particularly bright this year. and the jacarandas that line the streets running down to the sea are blossoming profusely, with their beautiful blue.   Magnolias are sending up white spears, that open into...
On the water front

On the water front

 Auckland’s water front on a fine day is sparkly and refreshing.  Some come to walk or play on the beach  and once you’ve got your sun hat on, you can take your time while others simply sit, and enjoy gazing at the restful slopes of...
Scooping up the sea

Scooping up the sea

I’m scooping up the sea. That’s one of the Tai Chi movements in the sequence I’m doing each morning. It consists of bending low, one foot behind the other, and with crossed hands, scooping and bringing the sea up high until it merges with the air...
Full tide Tai Chi

Full tide Tai Chi

 The tide is as full as it gets. As I do my Tai Chi, I hear the water sloshing up over the nearby boat ramp.  Despite the clouds, and heavy rain forecasts for the south island, the sky still has plenty of blue. The pohutukawa, long past flowering, watches over me from...
Hello summer!

Hello summer!

I couldn’t believe it! As I walked down to the jetty this morning, the sun was shining and the sea was blue. A cold wind blew in from the south, but as I descended to the sea, all was calm. I stood in a patch of morning sun, my gaze drifting out across the blue,...
Tai Chi in the rain

Tai Chi in the rain

 ‘Be not deterred,’ says Dr. Baolin Wu of the Nine Palaces tradition from the White Cloud Monastery of China. ‘Always practise your Tai Chi outside, in nature.’Not only was it raining this morning, but it was also rather cool. But, remembering...
Tai Chi by the tide

Tai Chi by the tide

 The tide is further out each morning now, as I do my Tai Chi by the sea. Rock pools have formed everywhere, as the sea’s edge recedes. A black oyster catcher stalks the edge, watched by a lone gull. ‘Stagnant water no good for Tai Chi,’ says Dr Wu...
Mystery solved

Mystery solved

Shall I reveal what I discovered, or leave it as a mystery?I can’t resist telling you.Yesterday I was helping with a Retreat Day, called Setting the Compass (for the new year). It was held in a beautifully renovated church hall, and I had been invited to create...
Gift of the Sea

Gift of the Sea

 After enjoying my Tai Chi by the sea, I noticed something on the ground. It looked like a sculpture, a wave of the sea.  Then I found this little vessel, like a tiny raft to sail the waves in. And another one. Such beautiful gifts from the sea – peelings from...
Tai Chi by the sea

Tai Chi by the sea

 Tai Chi is best done outside. The whole point of this practice, according to Chinese teachers, is to unite with nature.  Dr. Wu, of the Nine Palaces tradition, says that morning is a good time.At the bach, I had found a good spot, where I felt close to the trees, and...
Sweet parting

Sweet parting

 The holiday is over, and I have returned. But I’m remembering the blazing skies of my last night at the bach.  The rain clouds, that never departed, did scatter a little that evening, and there were just enough of them to create more magical skies. Clouds come...
What the Empress dropped (2)

What the Empress dropped (2)

I noticed that Madame Kereru dropped something else, each time she visited. Yes, she tears off a whole bunch of kawakawa in the course of her feeding, and drops it on the ground.You could say that she’s an untidy eater.But there’s more to it than this,...
What the Empress dropped

What the Empress dropped

In the late afternoon, this is what I found: a feather on a fern. It was hard to photograph, but I captured it at last. What a poetic gift from the Empress, leaving her fluffy feather perched so exquisitely. I think of Hildegarde von Bingen’s music, called...
Grasses in the rain

Grasses in the rain

 As I walk to the beach in the rain, my attention is drawn to the grasses the reeds alongside the swamp,  and wildflowers everywhere.  There are clusters of clover here and there, both red and white.  On the dunes, seed heads are full and the spinafex is ready to...
When the mozzies are biting

When the mozzies are biting

 When the mosquitoes are biting, having penetrated every nook and cranny, and even finding their way through screens and mosquito net,  then you don’t mind that the wind is now following the sultry days and the rainy days, and is shaking the tops of the trees,...
New Year gifts

New Year gifts

There are 72 steps from the carport to the bach. Must have been too much for the three wise men of Christmas, because I didn’t catch a glimpse of them. The path way was covered with weeds, and overgrowth was encroaching from the sides, so that might have been an...
Being on tank water

Being on tank water

Being on tank water means you don’t mind when the rain sweeps across the country, saturating everything in sight, and even though it’s summer holidays when most people are looking for the sun, you just laugh because you can hear the water gurgling into the...
The empress comes to visit

The empress comes to visit

 It’s silent here at the bach. No longer is little Mira’s bright voice to be heard, saying ‘I want to look it’, or ‘Why, Granny?’, or ‘I like it.’ But in the silence, the empress—known to Maori as kereru (wood...
The flax Christmas tree

The flax Christmas tree

Here at the bach, life is simple. There are no shops close by, and we use what is close at hand. Mira requested a flax Christmas tree. So, armed with 3 books on flax weaving, I came out the the bach to see what I could create before the family arrived. The black metal...
Solstice Solitude

Solstice Solitude

It’s summer solstice, and I am having my favourite kind of summer solstice day. I have been quietly wandering the stream and beach, picking up fern fronds, pohutukawa blossoms, and dandelions, and finding a place to make an image for the solstice. This is an old...
Te Henga magic

Te Henga magic

I packed, I shopped, I did dozens of tasks, I drove through dense traffic, and finally I arrived at the bach.Once here, I cleaned, unpacked, cooked, and finally came to a standstill – or rather a sitstill – when I looked out the window and caught a quality...
Pohutukawas in the city

Pohutukawas in the city

The city is ablaze with the flowering of our traditional Christmas tree, the pohutukawa. The roadside verges are full of young trees, in the flush of their first flowering. Others have grown tall and skinny, reaching to the sky with their bright offerings, And some...
And sometimes summer looks like summer

And sometimes summer looks like summer

The rain has cleared and the sun is peeping out behind the clouds. From my balcony I look out to the pohutukawa, ablaze with blossom. The flame tree that stands just to the left, is now covered in green leaves. All winter it flared with scarlet flowers, but in summer...
Sometimes summer looks like autumn

Sometimes summer looks like autumn

I picked up red pohutukawa leaves from the beach, sprinkled some jade plant leaves around, and placed a little yellow flower in the centre. Then I realised how autumnal it looked. But the casualness is about summer, and the warmth was certainly there on that day, even...
Peony opening

Peony opening

I can’t resist photographing the peonies as they open. The buds are so fat and mysterious. This is one of the three I was given, that hasn’t yet opened. This is the other one, unfolding her skirts and the next day, puffing them out and here’s that...
Moon, melia and mulberries

Moon, melia and mulberries

Fullness is gathering, as summer solstice approaches. Three signs of abundance presented themselves to me today: the swelling moon, the melia trees which frame it, and are now in full leaf, and mulberries, a gift from my friends’ garden. I’ve sung...
Why does seaweed smell?

Why does seaweed smell?

Can you remember the total absorption of playing at the edge of the sea? Today was our first day at the local beach. I played with leaves, making an image to use on my new solstice card, and the little one discovered a new game: collecting seaweed. There were several...
Gifts came my way

Gifts came my way

It’s been a day of receiving – from appreciative people whom I’ve helped in various ways during the year. Today they brought gifts. This one has never crossed my threshold before, and I wasn’t sure what it was. It’s a peony, just peeping...
Cornucopia of carrots

Cornucopia of carrots

Seduced by abundance at the farmers’ market on Sunday, I bought a big bag of new seasons carrots. Bunches of coriander lay nearby, and I took one, remembering a special recipe: carrot and coriander soup. I haven’t made this special soup for a year or two....
Came a wet Sunday . . .

Came a wet Sunday . . .

What can be done with a wet Sunday? If it falls in the middle of winter, staying in bed with a good book is an appealing option. But when it’s the start of summer, the season beckons. I began with the first option, but then remembered the farmers’ market...
The colour of leaves

The colour of leaves

Yes, I know. this looks like an autumn post. But I assure you, even though spring has now tipped into early summer, this is the season for colourful pohutukawa (and other) leaves. They drop to the ground in many colours. The green one has had its colour bleached out...
Garden fairy

Garden fairy

The garden fairy came to visit. She was very intent on caring for my plants with the little plastic watering can that I keep nearby. I don’t water the jade plants very often, but the garden fairy made sure they were not missed out. Then she moved on to the...
In sacred space

In sacred space

I’ve just returned from an evening and a day in sacred space, teaching The Art of Ritual to twelve lovely women who live an hour and a half north of Auckland. They are very connected to nature, and their hearts are open to learning and connecting.Here are the...
The happiness tree

The happiness tree

Have you ever seen a plant that instantly made you feel happy?Today, I did. The street where I go to see my hairdresser is full of gardens. One tree stood out today as I drove down the winding road to her house. Yes, it’s a bottlebrush. One after another, there...
Other people’s gardens

Other people’s gardens

I’m so lucky to live in a neighbourhood of colourful gardens. I always walk to the shops, which gives me time to delight in the spring flowers, with their glorious colours. This line of yellow and red roses has been planted in front of a little white house, and...
Spring fairy

Spring fairy

It was Guy Fawkes, and while crackers resounded through the neighbourhood, the little one’s parents were in Wellington, celebrating their wedding anniversary. I was in charge, sleeping over for the first time. It seemed like a nice thing to do, once the dishes...
Spring surprise

Spring surprise

Have you ever discovered something beautiful right under your nose? The big palm trees at the apartment block where I live are flowering. I don’t recall them doing this last year, but then again, they are in a corner of the garden where I don’t usually...
Beltane the spring festival: October 31

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....
Street Flowers

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,...
Wildflowers

Wildflowers

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...
Spring combat

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...
Blossom

Blossom

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...
Brightness returning

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...
Leafing time (2)

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...
Leafing time

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...
Celebration planting

Celebration planting

 Just after I had the plaster cut off my arm, I walked down the street past a plant shop. This bright splash of colour – a polyanthus – caught my eye, and I thought, I must have that to celebrate! Then I saw the brick-red pansy with its large cheerful...
From the tree tops

From the tree tops

The holiday park where we stayed in KeriKeri is surrounded by a mix of native bush and Australian gums. The gums are mature, and magnificent. Their bark has peeled long ago and the trunks are smooth and white, like new skin.In the morning, as we were eating our...
Those small touches

Those small touches

Our family travelled north to KeriKeri over the weekend, to visit our ailing 95 year old elder. She always loved her garden, but since being in a Rest Home has no plants to tend. We stayed in a ‘tourist flat’ where the new owners are tending their huge...
Jade plant in spring

Jade plant in spring

Here we are, between blossoming and leafing. As I wait for the leaves to appear on the trees all around me, my attention is drawn to the jade plant on my balcony. Its leaves are brightening, and the new growth is bright yellow, with red tips. I think of butterfly...
Seeds sprouting

Seeds sprouting

Sometimes I forget that I’ve carefully planted some seeds – that is, until they brightly sprout. This morning I received this magazine in the post – the spring issue of Organic NZ. And inside was this article that I sent them many months earlier....
My friendly neighbourhood

My friendly neighbourhood

I live in a friendly neighbourhood. If someone has a surplus, they share it with others. My breakfast grapefruit is from a box- full that a neighbour up the road puts outside his house each year. Other people create gardens on the street. Here’s one, planted...
Evening magic

Evening magic

The sunsets last week were glorious. One night I saw the glow of evening making beautiful patterns on the agave plants. I had to be quick, but I managed to catch the magic before it faded. Sometimes we just need a piece of magic to remind us of the wonder of being...
A mythic spectacular

A mythic spectacular

Just before the fireworks began downtown on Friday night, the spectacular Opening Ceremony of the Rugby World Cup took place at Eden Park.I’ve just watched it for the second time, on TV on demand. I feel so proud of NZ for putting on such a fabulous piece of...
Fireworks

Fireworks

To my surprise and delight, I had a glimpse of the fireworks last night from my balcony. Sometimes, it was just a flash on the periphery. Others flared up beautifully, and lingered in the sky long enough to photograph. And then there were the moments when I received...
Waka sailing in

Waka sailing in

It’s been a beautiful day in Auckland today and the big party to open the Rugby World Cup began on the waterfront at 4 pm. Bunting is hanging everywhere along the streets. This man was hanging out his flags, and feeling proud of the display. He waved when I took...
Gift of fragrance

Gift of fragrance

On my doorstep yesterday, I discovered a gift from a dear friend. She was thinking of our family, and the funeral that took place yesterday for my granddaughter’s boyfriend of 3 years, and she wanted me to have a fragrant plant that she knows I love: daphne. Not...
In the Green Lane

In the Green Lane

Walking around Greenlane hospital this morning, I wondered what signs of regeneration there were to lift the spirits of sick and injured people. The trees are still bare, although the one on the left is showing a brightening of the twigs, which are turning yellow. But...
Bitter-sweet

Bitter-sweet

Alongside the beauty and fragrance of spring, comes shock and grief.My granddaughter’s boyfriend of three years died last night from an accident. He was only 17.Sometimes the flowering of youth is blasted by tragedy.Nature is flowering.I am...
Spring flowering

Spring flowering

Flowers were blooming all along the way as I took my morning walk. A plethora of flowers. Do not linger to gather flowers to keep them, but walk on, for flowers will keep themselves blooming all your way. —Rabindranath...
House-warming

House-warming

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...
Unfolding

Unfolding

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...
Spring at the bach

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...
New growth

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...
Up the wall

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...
Cosy hyacinths

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...
Brave buds

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...

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...
Twigs

Twigs

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...
Buds opening

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...
Budding

Budding

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. BUD A perfect word Let it be said Enfolding U From B/irth to...
Blessing for First Light

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...
Celebrating First Light

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...
Winter nesting

Winter nesting

At three years old, Mira has just had her first birthday party. There was so much to wonder at: the cake with its candles, the ritual of being sung to and then blowing them out. And then of course the presents. I gave her a set of nesting dolls. Here she is, wondering...
What do ants love best?

What do ants love best?

Last year, in autumn, I posted about the ants that were invading my home. Several people offered useful advice through their comments, and my favourite one was from an anonymous visitor who said, try out different foods, and mix them with borax, and this will help to...
The bird with no head

The bird with no head

As I walked along the waterfront yesterday, I spotted a strange sight: a bird without a head. I came closer, and saw that it was a shag. It seemed to be have been taking a nap, but as I approached it moved,  and opened its eyes, taking a look at me to see if I posed a...
The gift that grew

The gift that grew

When I first moved into my apartment nearly two years ago, I sat there amidst the boxes and bare rooms, and had this thought: ‘I wish someone would bring me flowers.’I’ve always liked to grow flowers for picking, to bring life into my home.But here I...
A splash of yellow

A splash of yellow

It was wild and cold out here on the west coast this weekend. The rain was lashing my face, and the lens of my camera as I sneaked it out for some photos. The rain squall intensified as I attempted to photograph the hill across the stream.But when I returned to the...
White carrot

White carrot

I haven’t visited the bach garden for a month. When I pulled up this vegetable, I thought it must be a parsnip, although I didn’t remember planting any. But no. It’s a white Belgium carrot. Suddenly I remembered: in the autumn I was unable to buy...
Two seasons

Two seasons

It’s been bleak; a week of storms, twisters, snow falls and on the west coast, immense surf. The wind has been biting. Yet, winter delivered a surprise. On my walk, I discovered a young magnolia had burst into bloom, just two minutes away from the grey sea coast...
Serenity and gratitude

Serenity and gratitude

In the Wintergardens, on that inhospitable day when I took refuge in the warmed pavillion, this is what I saw: waterlily leaves that seemed to be made out of bronzed silk. A golden highlight shone on them from above, bringing out their luminosity, and a single flower...
Winter smiles

Winter smiles

It was a cold, windy day with grey skies. Leaves were being scraped along the ground and tossed in the air. I pulled my coat tightly around me as I left an appointment and prepared myself for two more – dreary ones, like the day itself. With an hour to kill...
Sun berries

Sun berries

This winter I’m noticing things I’ve never seen before. As I drive down a certain Auckland street, I see that the melia trees are in full berry. They are like lots of little suns, all over the trees, and they seem to light up the whole street on gloomy...
Where are the bumblebees?

Where are the bumblebees?

My jade plant is just as gorgeous as it was last year. Its little flower heads are pink and open. They are  putting out a soft, sweet fragrance. They’re just hanging out, ready to be pollinated. But where are the bumble bees? Last year it was smothered with...
In the deep midwinter

In the deep midwinter

In the deep midwinter, a woman is writing . . . and a new book is emerging. In the deep midwinter, a woman is reading . . . researching the subject of ageing, with the help of inspiring elders.  In the deep midwinter, a woman is planting . . .  garlic for the winter...
Midwinter circles

Midwinter circles

One of the joys of winter is gathering with friends around a warm fire, and sharing hearty food and good company. The first gathering was with my family, who once again joined with a friends’ family for a winter dinner. My contribution, as it has been every...
Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice!

The sun is about to return (on June 22), bringing with it not so much warmth (for the coldest time is yet to come) as light, and that is welcome. These images are from the altar set up for my Winter Solstice Retreat. These are the symbols for fire in the north. And...
Winter solitude

Winter solitude

St Heliers beach is usually bustling with walkers. But not on this wintry day. The emptiness spoke to me of the emptying out that takes place in winter, and the seat seems to be offering an invitation to sit and be still. In the other direction, it was the immensity...
The zen of winter

The zen of winter

Winter pares away details, and renders things simple and clear, like a Japanese wood cut. This is the melia tree, that I watched shedding its leaves. Now only these little gold berries are left. And here’s the jade plant, a mass of flowers, but simple in its...
I found one!

I found one!

I’ve been wanting to find one ever since I first saw it in a book on native trees – that was about 40 years ago. I even planted a tree, but it never fruited, maybe because it needed to be a female.  It’s a titoki berry. And today I found my first one...
Winter light

Winter light

I’m enjoying the special quality of the winter light.  It paints the water with a special shimmer. It’s cool and silvery, especially as the sun is going down. And it brings with it a feeling of peace. . . . only in the winter, in the country, can you have...
A splash of purple

A splash of purple

A splash of colour is so welcome at this time of the year, as the days grow grey and cool. I was so happy to find this lassiandra flowering when I took my walk.It was a flower that my mother loved. She had one growing outside the dining room, where she could see it...
Slow season

Slow season

It’s been the warmest May on record this year, so it’s not surprising that the exotic trees are slow to shed their leaves. This magnificent oak tree stands in Awhitu Regional Park, on the site of the first European settler’s house. It’s been...
Fog clearing

Fog clearing

This morning, after three days lying low & feeling unwell, I ventured down to the jetty. Through the mist I saw what looked like a shag and maybe a very large duck, sitting patiently, waiting for fog clearance perhaps. Me too, I thought, still feeling foggy in my...
Strange flowering

Strange flowering

I saw this strange ‘flower’ on the branches of a bare fruit tree as I walked around the land at Earthtalk. What could it be? It reminded me of kauri gum.When I inquired later, I discovered that this is a Golden Queen peach tree, and it seems that the tree...
Women on the land

Women on the land

I didn’t expect to be putting up a post in celebration of growth at this time of the year, but after my weekend at Earthtalk, I’ve returned with many images of amazing productivity from a block of well-loved and well-tilled land. Everything has been done...
Awhitu birds

Awhitu birds

I’ve just had a relaxing weekend on the Awhitu Peninsula, staying on the organic small holding of my friends Tanya and Charmaine. There, the skies are big, the peace immense, and the bird life plentiful. On their land they made a small pond, which attracts many...
Singing bird tree

Singing bird tree

The flame tree takes me by the hand and leads me into winter, saying ‘It’s OK. I’ll be there to warm you through the coldest of days. I’ll be flaring brightly, no matter what.’The flame tree makes the transition so comforting. Its scarlet...
Sails in the sunlight

Sails in the sunlight

On the threshold of winter, we have been blessed with sun-warmed days. As I came home from my walk in the sun yesterday, suddenly the boats glided across the strip of sea in front of me, their sails caught by the light. Even when the clouds moved across the sky, still...
Shedding

Shedding

Everywhere I look, plants are shedding. Ivy on a wall is now bare of leaves, but sticks out these little red clusters that may be seeds, or empty pods perhaps. In the afternoon sun, they are like assertions of life, even as the rest of the plant turns brown. Nikau...
Oh for a garden!

Oh for a garden!

 The biggest sacrifice of living in an apartment is not having a garden. I’ve always loved the rhythm of stepping outside to pull weeds, observe new growth, pick flowers to bring inside, and rake up leaves. As a writer, tending a garden provides the perfect...
Watching the melia

Watching the melia

May 18 It all happened pretty fast. There’s nothing like a good wind storm to shake the trees and reduce them to naked branches. Only three weeks ago, the melia tree outside my window looked as if its leaves would hold on forever. April 27 For sure, they were...
Lemons to the rescue

Lemons to the rescue

‘Have you got about twenty lemons?’ asked the neighbour who had just knocked on my door. Fortunately I did. The lemon grove here at my apartment block is heavy with a new crop. My neighbour had seen the window open, and could smell fumes from the car park. Even though...
Leaves a-turning

Leaves a-turning

Even evergreen native trees change colour and shed some leaves. Karaka leaves were falling on the paths when I was last at the bach. With them I made this circle, a wheel for the turning season as it moves into the dark segment of the...
Of purple & pohutukawas

Of purple & pohutukawas

The swamp turns purple on the threshold of winter. In autumn it flushes russet, but as winter approaches the colours change. If I remember rightly, Van Gogh saw shadows as purple. We are now entering that time of year when the shadows lengthen, sculpting the landscape...
The two-sided tree

The two-sided tree

The flame tree, that I watch through the seasons, has become two trees. On the east, its leaves are slowly turning yellow and becoming more sparse. I photograph this side of the tree in the morning, when the sun catches its leaves. But on the other side, which...
Kiwi Halloween on Ponsonby Rd

Kiwi Halloween on Ponsonby Rd

On Saturday night, April 30, my helpers and I held a vigil on Ponsonby Road. We swept the pavement and set up an area with mats, ready to receive the candles and pumpkin lanterns that people brought. They wrote names on pieces of card, of those whom they wished to...
Preparing the pumpkins

Preparing the pumpkins

Tonight is Kiwi Halloween, exactly 6 months before it occurs in the northern hemisphere. Pumpkins are of course abundant when we bring our Halloween in line with the seasons. I’m preparing for tonight’s Kiwi Halloween on Ponsonby Rd by carving a pumpkin...
Tarapiroe

Tarapiroe

‘They’re not seagulls’, I said, as we sat on the beach during the finest day of the Easter weekend. ‘I think they might be terns.’ I was right.When I could check my bird books and the web, I learned that these dainty birds were...
Quiet depth

Quiet depth

There’s depth and quiet in the landscape out here at the coast over Easter. The bullrushes are showing their final russet coat before the decline, while distant hills seem transparent in the soft light.  A full tide sweeps over the iron sand, keeping me up on...
Storms and seeds

Storms and seeds

The gales of last week wreaked havoc at the bach. I arrived to find twigs strewn everywhere, then branches, and then the lacebark severed from its trunk. The mellow days of autumn are definitely over, but on a gentler note, I found the carrots I planted last time,...
Autumn glory

Autumn glory

Mostly, I love our native trees. But in autumn it’s the exotics that I enjoy, as their leaves change colour. Today on the north shore I found many glorious trees to help indulge my need to hold on to autumn. So golden, such glory. And yet, there is a darkening...
Walking the labyrinth

Walking the labyrinth

For about 4 days before Easter, St Matthew-in-the-city sets out a labyrinth in river stones and candles. The church fills with music: sometimes a choir, maybe electronic music, maybe the sound of a river gurgling by. It’s an age-old practice, to walk the...
Changeover

Changeover

I’m watching and feeling the changeover. Nine days ago we were still basking in the late glow of autumn. The shadows fell warmly upon the wall and the tiles glowed. The air was still, and I rested in the illusion that this could last forever. Now the southerly...
Pine-coning

Pine-coning

I know a place where the pine trees grow And the tanekaha, ever so slow It’s there I go to fuel my fire With cones to make the flames leap higher And there I find the toadstalls gold, Red ones tiny, or spotted bold Every autumn I walk the trails Preparing for...
Going underground

Going underground

On my walk, I saw this woodpile that a neighbour has prepared, ready for the cold nights that are getting closer.Creatures are burrowing underground, finding nooks and crannies to huddle away in. Ants have been pouring into my kitchen and into every little-used...
Basking

Basking

I’m basking in the glow of the autumn retreat that I led in the weekend.It was so rich, being in the good company of others from many spiritual traditions.The many seeds of autumn are still with me: shiny flax seeds, kauri cone segments, golden kowhai seeds, and...
Simplicity

Simplicity

In the golden weather of autumn, which keeps extending itself, day by day, I sit on the beach. With Mira, it’s very simple. Just be there. Enjoy. Play in the sand.  Watch the boats sailing by, while Mira finds her own solution to sandcastles that won’t...
I just sat

I just sat

I played truant and took a bit of time off in the middle of the day to go out to the bach. There I took time to just sit in the garden, in a patch of sun, between showers. I heard the sea’s distant roar. I caught the rhythm of the wind, heaving great sighs and...
Seeds of hope

Seeds of hope

Happiness is working in my bach garden. After harvesting my butternut, tomatoes and capsicums in the weekend, I started clearing weeds and dead plants, then preparing the soil for new planting. At the end of the day I’d planted two rows of carrots. The moon was...
Harvest

Harvest

I can still buy fine capsicums and courgettes from the organic growers up the road, and now they’ve brought in their harvest of butternuts. I reached the bach after a few weeks away, not sure what I’d find in my own modest garden, especially after the rain...
Beach magic

Beach magic

It was a perfect day at the beach today, the last of daylight saving. The beach gave me one gift after another. First, these tiny fish, flicking rapidly through the shallow stream that feeds into the beach lagoon. Then, feathers everywhere, having dropped from birds...
Making it last

Making it last

Visiting my friend Jennie, enjoying her garden in the mellow afternoon of autumn, and watching the tuis feeding. Jennie’s husband John makes these ingenious bird feeders, using an upturned bottle that dispenses sugar water into a bowl. The tui first sits and...
Emptying out

Emptying out

 I’ve been reflecting on letting go and emptying out, taking my cue from nature’s shedding, and also in preparation for the autumn retreat I’m leading in a couple of weeks’ time.As I took an afternoon walk, I found the berms covered with bits...
Earth hour

Earth hour

I’m preparing my candles for Earth Hour tonight, from 8.30 to 9.30 pm. Earth hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million people and over 2000 businesses turned off their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change and unsustainable energy...
In the clover

In the clover

In spring I photographed this very bank, when it was shimmering white with onion weed. Now, in autumn, red clover is sprinkled around, with its fulsome flowers passing into seed heads.On the way back from my walk a couple of days ago, I noticed a splash of colour...
A day of gifts

A day of gifts

After sitting on the beach, I felt inspired to pick up my coloured pencils and draw. It’s been a full day, in which I received a surprise gift from my friend Anne, sent all the way from England.Two years ago I admired her turquoise jacket and now, after much...
Serenity and gratitude

Serenity and gratitude

The sun came out again, and another mellow day unfolded. I took my writing to the beach, and sat there while the seagulls stood in the weed-covered sand, and clouds and yachts sailed by in sky and sea. The sand was dotted with small mounds, created by tiny creatures....
Autumn equinox

Autumn equinox

Today is autumn equinox, and it’s gently raining. I discovered the local grower’s market yesterday and stocked up on produce: feijoas, which are beginning to appear, tomatoes which are finishing, farm eggs, many lush greens, and best of all, fat...
Sunflower for Japan

Sunflower for Japan

Early autumn is a time of many festivals. Here in Auckland, the cultural festival is ending, and Ponsonby Rd was having a market day. The streets were lined with stalls, sizzling food, musicians, and many passers-by.I bought this sunflower, which contains both summer...
Reflections on rebuilding

Reflections on rebuilding

Today, on the edge of the gently lapping tide, I made another little shrine for Christchurch. In the golden light of early autumn the beach is still warm at the end of the day. The benevolence of the season helps me to embrace hope. Rebuilding will happen. It always...
Making the most of it

Making the most of it

Out at the coast over the weekend, the surf was still refreshing, but not too cold. There we were, not knowing if this would be the last swim or not, making the most of the golden weather. Cabbage tree turning flowers to berries koromiko flower Pomarderis karo seed...
Autumn’s richness

Autumn’s richness

The sun is shining; the days are warm. The oaks are shedding their acorns, which pop out of the little cups at their base. A feijoa tree drops fruit over a fence, on to the pavement. Berries are abundant, and bright with colour. Ivy leaves are shifting allegiance. And...
Hearts for Japan

Hearts for Japan

Last night, at an interfaith gathering, we contemplated spiritual teachings on the theme of uncertainty. This theme was chosen before the Japanese earthquake had occurred, and proved to be even more pertinent than expected. One of the readers was a Japanese woman, who...
Seed time

Seed time

Everywhere, nature is shedding.Flax plants stand up proudly along the coast. Their pods are cracking open, and raining black seeds on to the ground beneath.I gather them, and make a basket shape from the leaves, wanting to contain and hold what is flying away. The...
Autumn seeds and flowers

Autumn seeds and flowers

On the hill, toi toi waving freely. At the base, blackberries ripening. In the bush, a bridal shower of houhere (lacebark). Autumn is here on the coast, with its own rich beauty and...
Evening beauty

Evening beauty

Sometimes nature is so beautiful that I forget her fierce aspect, that brings floods, earthquakes and cyclones.There’s something about a new moon that always moves me: seeing that clear slice of silver in the sky, and feeling a new cycle begin.When the new moon...
Shedding

Shedding

I spent the day getting rid of things, clearing my desk, throwing away old papers that were no longer needed. I hadn’t planned the day that way; it just happened. I had thought to continue working on my new projects, but somehow the mess had been interfering...
Autumn gift

Autumn gift

Autumn is here; the days and nights have been nippy and the change in weather quite abrupt. I felt a bit caught out; not quite ready for this. But today I received a gift. After spending time being interviewed by a research student, talking about seasonal food for...
Rebuilding

Rebuilding

I made shrines for the broken hearts of Canterbury today. The beach was empty, the tide receded; rain threatening. The sand was gritty with shell fragments. Pieces of glass had been sea-shaped into curious little objects. I placed green leaves for healing, as...
Solidarity

Solidarity

Today in Auckland many of us wore red and black, the colours of Canterbury, as a way of showing our support.Today at 12.51 pm, all over the country, we paused for 2 minutes’ silence.This afternoon I searched for red and black on the beach, and with the tide...
Retrieval

Retrieval

My local beach is scattered with broken scallop shells, the most fragments I have seen anywhere. As a child I remember seeing my first scallop shell, and marvelling at its beauty: the perfect fan, the little base, the one flat side and one scooped out. I enjoyed...
For the 300

For the 300

At the beach this morning I thought of those 300 shattered lives. I set out to gather 300 shells, one for each of them, sending prayers as I worked. But 100 was as many as I could manage. Each shell fragment represents not just a life lost, but the grieving families...
Prayer for stability

Prayer for stability

The tide is lapping against the beach walls when I walk down there to make something in the sand. In my mind I relive the horrific scenes from the Christchurch earthquake. The sound of the water is soothing. So many lives have been lost, and the people of Christchurch...
Summer’s end (2)

Summer’s end (2)

As summer draws to a close, I reflect on how different plants age.Some turn scruffy and straggly, and succumb to mould as they pass their greening time. They look rather sad. This is how the tomatoes and courgettes are: utterly spent.Then there is the beauty of the...
A perfect day

A perfect day

I took the high path over the hill yesterday. Swimmers were still congregating on the beach, and the life guards were still there, keeping people safe in the turbulent surf. Every day feels precious as summer draws to a close. Even though I’ve been coming out to...
Summer’s end

Summer’s end

I can feel the end of summer approaching. As I wandered up the stream, here on the west coast, I noticed seeds forming everywhere: big clusters in the cabbage trees, lupins shaking loose their summer rattles, toi tois waving feathery fronds, flax stalks holding out...
Beach morning

Beach morning

Making sandcastles with Mira (2 1/2 years), and time slipped by. At first she chose sand that was too wet, and I had to tip off the excess. But the sandcastles held together well. We sat beside the row of four, proud of our work, and watched a shag swimming by,...
A garden seat

A garden seat

In this ripening time of late summer, I travelled to Nelson and visited an old friend. She’s a gardener, and an art dealer, and in her garden I spotted this old seat.There it sits, mellowed by age, rendered even more beautiful than when it was new. ‘Just...
Summer travels

Summer travels

I visited Paekakariki, enjoying the warmth of late summer. The hills are covered in long grass, with seed heads rippling in the wind, giving a softness to the landscape. The coast line is long and open, guarded by Kapiti Island, a place of much history. A new...
The magic of light

The magic of light

Sometimes the light out here at the bach takes me by surprise. I gasped when I glanced out the window just on nightfall yesterday. During the day, clouds had gathered over the sunny skies yet again, in this season of summer storms. But then suddenly the sky...
Mellowing

Mellowing

I’ve been reading on Penny’s blog from the northern hemisphere about the first rays of returning light peeping into cold nooks in her snow-bound home. At the same time I notice a withdrawal of light here in the southern hemisphere. Lammas (Lugnasadh, First...
Storm treasures

Storm treasures

Playing at the edge of the sea yesterday, late afternoon, after the storm. Golden kelp and green weed are carried up in the waves. Fishers stand on the wharf, angling for a catch. My catch is beach treasure. I make a nest, or maybe a basket for it, and then a mask....
And summer’s lease . . .

And summer’s lease . . .

The storm has carried away millions of tiny seeds, blowing them through every door and window, over my clothes, into the bookshelf, and on to the floor. Seeds now form a carpet over the concrete of the carport. I pause to study them, and carve out a heart shape. They...
Beach doodles

Beach doodles

Another weekend storm has now blown over, and I take a walk to the local beach. The tide’s edge is heavy, loaded with black fronds of sea grass and other debris. As the water creeps slowly in, with its storm-cast burden, I doodle in the sand with whatever I...
Recovery

Recovery

After the storms of the weekend, a perfect summer’s day arrived. I drove to St Heliers, along Auckland’s waterfront, for some dental work. While a crown was being made I sat on the beach under the shade of a pohutukawa tree, resting my eyes on the soothing...
Summer gifts

Summer gifts

An old friend came to visit, bearing gifts from his garden on Waiheke Island. It’s usually dry over there, but this year the gardeners are happy because of the torrential rain that fell over the weekend.He brought purple beans (that turned dark green when I...
Timeless

Timeless

There’s nothing like wandering up and down a sandy stream for entering a timeless world. I feel like a child myself as I follow Mira and her boat. I am filled with the lazy contentment of summer. Yet there is time in this picture too, for three generations are...
Low tide

Low tide

Back on the west coast, walking by the sea, I happen to be there at an extreme low tide (affected by last night’s full moon no doubt). It’s not often I can walk so far out, around the rocks. The smell was tangy, with the promise of sea-food. It’s a...
Catching the moon

Catching the moon

Walking out in the summer night, I stalked the full moon. It appeared over roof tops, then dipped below tall trees. It flashed through branches for a moment, then was gone behind bushy foliage. Along the path to the waterfront I finally caught it. Here it is above,...
Summer moon

Summer moon

Last night when I got home, the air was still. High in the sky I saw the summer moon, swelling towards fullness, sailing past the cypress tree. Clouds gathered underneath, the clouds that today have brought welcome rain to thirsty trees and gardens.Once, people...
New order

New order

Can what is broken ever be mended? I mused on this as I played in the sand. I thought of the devastating floods in Australia, and the many homes and towns which will never be the same. I remembered the times in my life where new order emerged out of the chaos of...
Seeking shade

Seeking shade

On these hot dry days I find myself seeking shade. My eye is drawn in to the cool blue of agapanthus, the acquamarine of the sea, or the shadows carved out by aloe leaves. Into these shady interiors I rest in subtlety, taking refuge from the harsh heat of pavements...
Footprints

Footprints

‘Tepscams,’ said Mira, ‘make tepscams’. It took a while to figure this one out. I had to backtrack in my mind to the spill that occurred when she was watering my pot plants on the balcony. Then I got it: ‘Oh, footprints! You want to make...
Beach hearts

Beach hearts

Playing on the beach again. First I collect a few objects, enjoying their contrasting colours and textures on a bed of white shells. Then I find myself reflecting on love, making two separate hearts out of found pieces on the beach. Then I feel that they are a little...
The leafiness of trees

The leafiness of trees

Do the trees, in full leaf, find their canopies burdensome? Is it a strain for their branches to hold up such large leafy heads? The flame tree, that I’ve watched come into leaf so gradually, is now in full dress. The melia, whose sprouting branches I charted in...
Leafy streets

Leafy streets

Back in the city, I walk the streets. People are still away on holiday, and the streets are quiet. There’s something special about a city that has emptied out over summer. It feels gentle, and the beauty of the streets is easier to see without the distraction of...
Farewell

Farewell

The holiday is over. This glorious time of drifting, playing, pottering, snoozing, swimming, walking, cooking, eating and standing still in wonder, has come to an end. Last night I caught a special light on the hill: slanting highlights and long shadows, which matched...
Little suns

Little suns

Mornings at the bach are special. I’m woken by the serenade of the tuis, whose song is so much more resonant and throaty than the tuis in town. The air is cool and I wander among the garden plants, checking how they are, giving them water, and picking off bugs....
Summer simplicity

Summer simplicity

Life is deliciously simple at the bach. Even though some tasks  take longer, time stretches a long hand as we relax into another week of holiday.For water, we depend on rain to fill the tank. The toilet is a long-drop in the trees. Music comes from records played on a...
Back in the surf

Back in the surf

The end of the day is the best time to swim when summer has arrived in full force, with a blazing sun. I got back on my board after twisting my ankle when I was thrown off some days ago, and rode the waves once more. What a good feeling to be fizzing in the surf...
Morning visitor

Morning visitor

On my way to the ‘long drop’ in the morning I heard a distinctive sound in the tree tops: a ‘whoosh-whoosh’ of wings. Aha, a wood pigeon! I thought, and sure enough, there it was perched in the top branches of the kawakawa, pulling off one...
New Year’s eve ritual

New Year’s eve ritual

Last night we celebrated the new year with a simple ritual. During the day we’d all contemplated what 2010 had been about, and had searched for symbols to express its different aspects. We’d also found symbols for our hopes for 2011. In our ritual we...
Seasonal treasures

Seasonal treasures

Here are the treasures of the season, placed into little hollows in the sand: the last pohutukawa flower, flax flower, white-headed wildflower, kawakawa leaf . . . The black sand has layers of lighter sand under the surface, which makes little rings around each...
Full tank!

Full tank!

Here at the bach we depend on rainwater from a very small tank. With the family here, it goes down fast (even though there is no flush toilet; we have a ‘long drop’ in the bush). When the level went down to half it was time to ration showers and keep all...
Sand star

Sand star

I’ve been playing some more with pohutukawa leaves. It took me a couple of days to arrive at this image. Besides finding the odd red leaf amongst the ample green, I also discovered a few yellow ones. The light green leaves in the centre are the new growth, and...
Riding the surf

Riding the surf

Everything’s fresh today after the storm, including the surf. It was a bit choppy and not very big, but my new board is nice and fast. I got tossed off once, but also had a long ride that was fast enough to thrill. Meanwhile, on the beach the wind was cool and...
Stillness before the storm

Stillness before the storm

We walked through the wetland to the beach this morning, coming at it from a different angle. A storm was forecast, with heavy rain and high winds, but when we set out it was still cloudy and dry.There by the cliff wall I spotted a blue heron. It stood motionless,...
Surf

Surf

When the day turns humid, and the saturated air alternates between pricklings on the skin and actual rain, and I feel sluggish from the late afternoon heat, there’s only one solution: to walk through the rain towards the surf.The waves were bouncing and tingly,...
Kiwi Christmas Tree

Kiwi Christmas Tree

At the bach, space is limited and we are surrounded in native trees. What would be a good Kiwi Christmas tree? I wondered. Down the drive I found some manuka saplings that needed to be removed. After cutting a couple, I bedded them into a small bucket of earth. Then,...
Summer energy

Summer energy

I made this image the day before summer solstice. It expresses the rising energy of the full moon and peak sun. I think of the fish rising also, and swimming rapidly through the sea.Among the red, yellow and green pohutukawa leaves I’ve tucked the occasional...
Heart season

Heart season

Summer, the season of the heart, is unfolding gently. I love the feeling of falling into holiday rhythm, being with family, sharing the cooking, swimming and walking.Pohutukawa leaves are mostly dark green, apart from the new growth which is very light. But amongst...
Summer Solstice magic

Summer Solstice magic

In the early evening yesterday, family groups appeared out of nowhere and began walking towards the cave at the south end of the beach. My son Daniel, granddaughter Mira 2 1/2) and I joined them, walking for 30 minutes in the mist towards a cave that felt more like a...
A wet, wet world

A wet, wet world

The rain continues to fall and the ground is now saturated, the stream swollen and the garden plants satiated with the very thing they craved only a week ago. Just after I took this picture of the field below the bach, a gaggle of geese waddled over to swim in the...
In praise of newness

In praise of newness

The bach has a new roof, completed today. Here it is, a light grey colour-steel; coastal grade to resist the salty sea air. The ceiling space is now clean and packed with ‘green’ batts to insulate. Every corner has been nailed down to keep it pest free in...
A fine moment

A fine moment

It’s been raining for three days. But when I arrived at the bach, the rain rolled back into the clouds. I spread a table cloth over the table on the deck, added a vase of dandelions and some other little yellow flowers, and sat outside to eat a delicious evening...
West coast flowering

West coast flowering

I’ve just had a weekend at the wild west coast, where the weather changed from howling wind to soft rain and then intense heat. The kanuka trees were shaking their heads in the wind, as the wind wound around the high-up bach where eight women gathered to...
Welcome summer

Welcome summer

It happened so quickly. Suddenly the cool weather was over and I was peeling layers off my bed and stowing away my winter clothes. With the sun’s return, I feel surrounded with benevolence. This is a gentle time, with the sun not too fierce, just warm and...
Pohutukawa

Pohutukawa

The first pohutukawa started flowering around the city a couple of weeks ago. Along the coast, they are a little slower, and out on the west coast, are still forming buds.My heart sings when I gaze into these blossoms. They are so generous, such a happy, soft spiky...
The leafiness of trees

The leafiness of trees

Do trees take a rest after all that hard work of spring: putting out buds, pushing them into leaves, then more leaves, pushing out through that winter-hard bark, and finally producing a full canopy? Do they breath a big sigh and settle into receiving full-on energy...
Summer beach play

Summer beach play

The day began with the morning light making magical patterns on my bedroom wall. The afternoon ended on the beach with Mira. I made a sandcastle while she dug in the sand with a garden trowel I brought along (though later she decided a teaspoon was more fun). As I...
Heart circle

Heart circle

I journeyed to Waiheke today, to check out a venue for my summer retreat. There’s something about crossing water that invites reflection, and carries me into another zone. On Waiheke I felt I’d left all cares behind and was on holiday — except for one...
Beach Play

Beach Play

This afternoon at the local beach I played with what I found on the sand. It’s so long since I did this, and I enjoyed warming up to what could be a season of beach play. I worked quite unconsciously, not sure what I was doing, yet feeling it was about...
Bach fragrances

Bach fragrances

One of the pleasures of going out to the bach, is noticing what is happening in nature after a week’s or fortnight’s absence. This time, I’m aware of fragrance. On my walk I notice that the flax (harakeke) is in flower, both red and yellow varieties,...
Sensuous season

Sensuous season

Summer is approaching, and the air is full of fragrance. The lemon grove below my balcony is in full flower, and as I sit at the outdoor table, the fragrance wafts up and around me, wrapping around like a silky chiffon shawl. And here’s the food: sweet papaya,...
The possibility of summer

The possibility of summer

 The cool breeze sent us back home eventually, but not before my granddaughter Mira (two and a half) and I had enjoyed exploring the beach for the first time since winter sent us scurrying inside. The approach of summer is like the gradual opening of doors. Watching...
Spring in the bush

Spring in the bush

Out at the bach, I love wandering along the bush paths and observing what is springing into life.The hen and chicken ferns are waving soft new tendrils, their stems stretching back like dancers paying homage to the morning sun. Then there are the renga rengas, perking...
Sanctuary

Sanctuary

I wandered around winding rocky pathways in Eden Garden today with a friend. The garden was hewn out of an old quarry and has been developed over the years by faithful gardeners and volunteers. Dotted amongst the trees are plaques and benches commemorating those who...
The good earth

The good earth

Here at the bach I’ve been planting my summer garden. What a pleasure it is to smell the good earth and feel the crumbly texture as my space turns the sods! I’ve chopped up the seaweed I brought home from the beach last time and have thrown organic sheep...
Quiet flowering

Quiet flowering

I enjoy watching the native trees and bushes flowering in their own quiet way. Many of our native flowers are pollinated by moths, and so their colour is white.This is the whau plant (pronounced ‘foe’), with leaves so lush that they look wet with...
The colours of new growth

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...
Dig!

Dig!

‘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,...
Bare feet

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,...
Greening

Greening

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...
Precious budding wings

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...
Illusions

Illusions

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...
Nature’s way

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...
Spring beauty

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...
Spring play

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,...
Spring on the waterfront

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!...
Blossom

Blossom

‘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...
Tui serenade.

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...
Asserting growth

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...
Brave kowhai in the storm

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...
The week-long storm

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...
Spring Equinox

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...
Bluebells

Bluebells

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...
Spring storm

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,...
Another street garden

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...
Skeleton amid the green

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...
For children, after the quakes

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...
Street beauty

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...
The last flowering cherry

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...
Tulips

Tulips

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...
Spring baby shower

Spring baby shower

On Sunday afternoon I went to a baby shower for a young woman in our community. She is now approaching full term with her pregnancy. Twelve women were there, and we each brought a blessing, written on a card or piece of paper ready to be pasted into a book.What a...
Illumination

Illumination

Can we connect with the sacred in nature when we are urban-dwellers? This question was raised at the Sea of Faith conference where I gave a talk on ‘The Sacred in Nature’. I thought of this blog, where so many of the images that inspire me are taken from...
Fern tasting

Fern tasting

‘What little seedling abounds in the bush at the moment? I need about a hundred.’ This was my request to Colleen, who lives up the road from the bach. Her property lies deep in the bush, amidst tall kauri, rimu, tanekaha and totara trees. ‘Have a...
Mild west coast

Mild west coast

Last week this very same scene was wild, wet, and cold. This week the sun kept chasing the squalls away and people spread themselves over the beach. How much can change in only a week! The hills are now full of colour and I am full of...
Wild west coast

Wild west coast

Walking in the storm with Barbara, who also loves wild weather. We are the only ones on the beach. The wind is fierce, the rain squalls frequent. Two black oyster catchers face the sea, patiently. Plump dotterels totter around in the wind. Cloud dissolves the hill...
Old green, new green

Old green, new green

Sometimes, like yesterday, spring and winter walk hand in hand, like lovers. At other times, like today, they wave their arms, shake their fists and fight like siblings.My walk takes me along mossy footpaths that bear the residue of winter’s damp. In the park,...
Under the gums

Under the gums

    Suddenly the sun was shining, the wind had dropped and the sky was clear. I knew this was the perfect day for my pilgrimage to Western Springs Road. Would the trees still be there after all these years?I’ve been writing about the gum trees in a talk on...
Oh fickle spring!

Oh fickle spring!

You shine enticing warmth, then blast with hail stones. You attack with fierce wind, then download your wet. You bite with cold, then archly present a rainbow, and smile as if to say, ‘This is August. What did you...
Maidens a-dancing

Maidens a-dancing

I set out to walk in the rain yesterday, telling myself ‘You’ll be glad you did it; you always are.’And so I was. I turned a corner and it was as if the day was suddenly lit up by what I saw: this glorious magnolia, dancing in the rain, her blossoms...
First Light

First Light

Celebrating First Light, the festival of Brigid, with my dear women friends. Milk is poured into a dark ‘well’ of water in a bowl, making swirls and clouds. I watch mesmerised at the simple magic that comes from a symbolic gesture made in sacred space. I...
Changing time

Changing time

I was feeling impatient, wanting to prance out of the backwater of winter (as I started thinking of it) and into the surge of spring. I wanted my creativity to flow again. I was tired of gestating and gathering. My watch stopped completely, and then my calculator too,...
Slipping into silver

Slipping into silver

Winter draws me back behind its veil. I’ve been tripping about, exclaiming at signs of spring, but not today. One step forward, one step back is the transition dance right now. I draw back from driving through the traffic to yoga, and instead wander down to the...
Elegance

Elegance

Walking in the rain again, having told myself before I set out that I’ll be glad I made the effort. It’s late afternoon and the grey day has begun to bite. But I’m looking for signs of spring these days, and what should I find but a glorious magnolia...
Green candles

Green candles

Kawakawa is coming into flower, putting up its little green candles. Underneath, jonquils stand tall, breathing out heavenly fragrance. Snowdrops are displaying their little white skirts.I perk up. I am starting to believe in...
Shimmer

Shimmer

Even on a grey wintry day, subtle shimmers of light break through the clouds. I drove to the dentist, feeling a little wan, and who should I discover in the waiting room but an old friend. I had just connected with her on ‘Linked In’ the day before! After...
Faces in the flames

Faces in the flames

The wood fire brings such good cheer to the bach as heavy rain drums on the roof. The walls warm up and the whole room turns toasty. When I tried photographing the flames, to my surprise, many of the photos displayed faces. I remember as a child seeing faces and...
Undaunted

Undaunted

Serious rain began to fall as I left town, but sometimes it’s best to confront the weather and not hide from it. Out at the bach, I stepped out undaunted under my big umbrella, into the rain. After about ten minutes, a sudden sun break delivered sparkling beauty and...
Sharing the sun

Sharing the sun

As I walked down the road towards home, I stopped in front of an old house. There on the street someone had placed a box of grapefruit fresh from the tree – free for the taking. I took one and put it in my pocket, feeling I was carrying the sun.What a bright...
Winter blessing

Winter blessing

I returned home after a day’s meditation retreat, just on evening. The sky and sea had turned an intense pink, contrasting with the green that was still held in the nearby trees. Such serene beauty in the outer world! It matched perfectly where I had been in the...
Out of the box

Out of the box

After much dreary rain, Auckland is sparkling. I walked along the waterfront with my friend, while yachts appeared from nowhere, tilting and gliding, waiting for wind. The air is still and the sun warm.It’s one ‘out of the box’, as the saying goes,...
Winter wind

Winter wind

Each tree blows differently in the easterly. The flame tree shivers its twiggy cage while the trunk remains unmoved. The pohutukawas heave their bushy heads, tossing to and fro as if wanting to break free. The cypress is a slender woman pulling her shawl in more...
Bare

Bare

Winter tells the truth: no window dressing.  I see that the path I was about to take is not the way to go; the path I was refusing is where I need to answer the...

Walking in the sun rain

I nearly turned back. I had no umbrella, and rain began to fall just as I’d started my afternoon walk. But sometimes it’s good to be intrepid, especially in winter; not to be deterred by a bit of wet or wind. And the rain wasn’t heavy. I decided to...
Red in the rain

Red in the rain

The rain has been pouring down steadily and the air has turned grey and fuzzy. But when I look out of my window I see red hot pokers standing up brightly against the dark green bushes beyond. How defiant they are! And the flame tree too, flaring above them. Who...
Finding holly

Finding holly

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...
Winter love

Winter love

Kawakawa leaves freshen up in winter, relieved of carrying those pesky insects that perforate them all over. Kawakawa, although associated with death for Maori, always reminds me of love because of the heart-shaped leaves and healing properties.As I went up and down...
Getting close to bumble bees

Getting close to bumble bees

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...
Little suns

Little suns

I’m enjoying the fragrance of lemon trees drifting up to my balcony; and the sight of their fresh yellow fruit. My friend’s mandarin tree is hanging out its little lanterns, and I’m remembering the orange tree from a previous garden, and how brightly...
More about ants

More about ants

Well, I’ve learned that the bach ants are quite different from the town ants, which are definitely Argentine ants, judging by their behaviour and what I’ve been learning from the Pest Man. I discovered the difference when I found my muffin in the morning,...
Winter warmth

Winter warmth

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...

Talking about the Seasons

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...
Flame tree defying winter cold

Flame tree defying winter cold

From my window I see a flame tree flaring against the backdrop of the sea. The tuis gurgle and creak amidst the branches. In winter we need to find ways of keeping the inner fire alive. Nature offers inspiration in unexpected ways. There is always something to delight...
Kowhai flowering In May

Kowhai flowering In May

The little kowhai tree that I’ve been nurturing along over the last 17 years, is very happy about all the attention. Here it is, flowering in May! What will happen when the cold nights nip those tender yellow flowers? I’m feeling...

Ants, food and the seasons

Are the food needs seasonal? I asked.  Yes, to a certain extent, said the pest advisor at Kiwicare. In summer the colony needs more carbohydrate so the workers can fuel their busy lives. But Argentine ants (which mine could be) like protein when they first move in to...

The cravings of queen ants

Why do the ants ignore the baits I so carefully laid for them? Helpful staff at KiwiCare explain that it all depends on what the queen requires. Like a pregnant woman, her cravings change. And so she instructs the workers to bring her protein, fat or carbohydrate. ...

The determination of ants

I learned something more about ants today. I knew that from late autumn they start their trails inside, bringing eggs and all they need to nest for the winter. At my bach a few weeks ago, I found a million ants in the loft, a carpet of black shiny bodies and...

Attended kumara dig on Auckland’s west coast. Children, parents, grandparents, friends of the grower all listened to instructions then swooped on the sandy patch to unearth the crop with bare hands. Prizes were given for smallest, largest, ugliest, most...

The call of winter

Rain, wind, wintry weather at last. The earth sighs and soaks up the long-awaited moisture. Time to turn within and begin the inner descent, coming home to self, and attending to what has been put aside through the active summer months. I’m finding good books...

Autumn planting

Planted celery today, in a deep trench with compost and lime. Took some outside leaves off to help the little seedlings deal with the shock of transplanting. Gave them lots of water. In 8 months’ time there will be crisp, light green stalks all ready to crunch...

Descending into darkness

It happens quite rapidly, once daylight saving has ended and autumn equinox has passed. Suddenly the evenings are dark and the descent time has begun. Even the weather forecaster picks up the undercurrent: the NZ Herald reports this from weatherwatch analyst Phillip...

season of sad thoughts

The season is shifting, bringing melancholy thoughts with it as summer slips away, the golden days recede, and nature resumes its tale of loss. Time to turn within and prepare to hunker down. Think comfort, nurture. Gathered bags of pine cones with a friend last week,...

autumn creatures

A pair of black oyster catchers on the beach; one pulls up a leg, pretending injury. I sit on thick grass overlooking the sea and a black cricket hops on to my hand, waving its fine antennae. A million ants have invaded the bach loft, bringing a million tiny white...

Last glow

Beginning of April (but posted a bit later) This sandwiched warmth, between slices of cool morning and evening. Dry soil, not yet ready for seedlings. Clearing garden debris, making compost piles. Basking in pockets of evening sun. Flaring sunsets. Pumpkins and...

Autumn Equinox Group ritual at Mana, as part of my workshop The Art of Ritual. As we wrote on yellow strips of paper, the things we were attached to about summer, I realised just how much I was holding on to! Things like eating outside, having the ranch sliders open...

More on autumn ripening

White butterflies appears out of nowhere to lay minute eggs under the leaves of the curly kale that was doing so well in the garden. I thought I was outwitting these white-winged flutterers when I tossed black netting over the plants. Not so! The next time I returned...
Autumn Ripening

Autumn Ripening

What a rich time this is, as under the sustained heat of the sun, fruit and vegetables ripen into sweet lusciousness! This year I grew acid-free tomatoes, a variety that produces quite small fruit, but oh so red and firm. And they last, there in a blue bowl on my...
First Fruits

First Fruits

First Fruits   The high energy of summer is gently slowing down. People have been returning from their holidays and schools are about to resume. What a bountiful summer this has been, with so many sunny days surrounding Christmas and New Year. And now we approach the...
Summer Solstice: finding balance

Summer Solstice: finding balance

As we approach summer solstice, two things are apparent: 1) the increasing light, warmth and openness, as if summer is opening its doors; and 2) the build up of busyness before Christmas. How can we achieve balance? Try pausing at intervals. Stop and breathe. Breathe...
Discovering the Sacred in Everyday Life

Discovering the Sacred in Everyday Life

My book A Cup of Sunlight, is taking off. A Women’s group is now working through it on Monday nights, and there is a resurgence of energy for this title. When I feel under under pressure, or there are too many tasks on the lists, I find that returning awareness...

Spring Planting

Carrots love tomatoes, says my companion planting book. I’ve just planted Roma Italian tomato seedlings, and sown a row of carrots alongside. Carrots help peas as well. My sugar snap peas, planted a few weeks ago, are climbing nicely up their bamboo stakes. Warm...

Sap Rise, Beltane and National Green Day

I’m reflecting on this season of ‘Sap Rise’, as I call it in my book Celebrating the Southern Seasons. It’s a time of high sexual, creative, greening energy. The ancient Celtic festival of Beltane was celebrated at this point midway between spring equinox and summer...

seasonal inspiration

Spring Equinox The source is within youand the whole world is springing up from it.(Rumi) Did you know that this is our Southern hemisphere Easter? Yes, right now at Spring Equinox, on September 23. Or to be really traditional, on the first full moon after Equinox,...