OPENINGS TO THE SEA: Summer Solstice 6/1/1983 Once again, I was returning to sand rituals at summer solstice, a pattern that would continue. When my son travelled to stay with his father for the first part of each summer, I took up residence in... Summer solstice, te maruaroa o Hine Raumati, is approaching. The longest day will be here on December 22nd. Is it on your calendar? Is it in your awareness? Why am I drawing your attention to summer solstice? This, the most glorious festival of... INNER CHANNELS – 1 21/12/81 Feminism had opened up an inquiry into the inner channels of my reproductive system. I painted ovaries and fallopian tubes and charted my menstrual cycle through daily temperature readings, to determine the moment of... BEGINNINGS In May 1978 artist Allie Eagle came to live in the studio behind my bach, and on the weekends when I came to visit from the city, we shared the bach living space. I was intrigued by Allie’s trips to the sea, where she dug into the... I was surprised. She didn’t want to be Persephone in the school play. I thought all the girls would have lusted after the part of the maiden, dancing with her friends amidst the spring flowers, her head crowned with a ring of blossoms. But not... INTRODUCTION TO THE ART IN NATURE BLOG Working with nature: elemental artworks by Juliet Batten I am creating this thread in order to document and honour the artworks I created in nature from the late 1970s onward. At the time, much of this work... Have you heard how sweet and clear the bird song is now — especially in the mornings? Birds are busy mating and nesting as spring equinox approaches on September 23. The pīpīwharauroa has returned from its winter pilgrimage, singing ‘Kui,... Do you struggle to find stability in spring? Don’t feel there is something wrong with you. The nature of spring is change. It’s a season of uncertainty, and for most of us, uncertainty is not easy to deal with Spring is full of... Are you noticing a shift? — subtle but unmistakeable? It happens every year around six weeks after winter solstice. Yes! The returning light (despite kickbacks of chill) begins to bring warmth with it. It can feel like a long wait for this relief.... Mānawatia a Matariki! This year, the second national Matariki holiday takes place on July 14th. You may have already gathered the profound significance in te ao Maori of the return of these stars, the home of the ancestors. You may also... 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... As the season releases into the quiet of winter, with Matariki still absent from the night sky, do you find memories surfacing? — especially when you consciously let go of things that once were treasures? Two days ago when the sun was... Autumn is a season of release. Leaves fall, light fades, crickets slow down then cease their song, the days shorten, and flowers drop into the earth. I’m in the flow of the season, letting go of small things (and some big), taking stones to... Did you know that in te ao Māori there was a month in which so little happened that it was often dropped from the calendar altogether? We are approaching that month now. At present we are in Paengawhāwhā, the eleventh month of the Māori calendar.... How do you lean into the gifts of summer when it is very rainy and not very summery? This is what a reader from Tauranga asked recently. Sarah wrote to me, wondering, ‘Many of the summer blessings you describe in ‘Dancing with the... I returned to the city after ten days holiday to find my garden burgeoning with growth. Lettuces, beetroot, and beans were flourishing, new seedlings were doing well, and a poppy grown from seed gifted at Beltane in October was now as high as my arm. Its... Blessing When you lose your footing May the earth hold you When your heart is aching May the waters soothe you When life feels overwhelming May the air lighten you When your thoughts are darkening May the fire illumine you. ... Summer solstice is approaching. The longest day will be here on December 22. Is it on your calendar? Is it in your awareness? Why am I drawing your attention to summer solstice? This, the most glorious festival of the year, is easily... I was surprised. She didn’t want to be Persephone in the school play. I thought all the girls would have lusted after the part of the maiden, dancing with her friends amidst the spring flowers, her head crowned with a ring of blossoms. But not 11-year-old... Today my new book, The Persimmon Journal, arrived from the printer, box after box, bursting with the joy of birthing. I will say more about this exciting news in a moment. But first I want to ask you a question. Do you find that some... Did you notice the elaborate protocols set in place for the ten days following the death of Queen Elizabeth? Every step has been prescribed, within an hour of her death, from the different locations for her body to lie in state, to precise timing, and... 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, or take... A winter vision In the sheltered quiet of winter, a woman is knitting She dreams a future into the stitches She makes sure the colours are bright. She will plant a river bank when the earth warms She is planning a food garden She is planning acts of... A profound cultural event has just taken place in Aotearoa: the first Matariki public holiday. At last, the new year has come into alignment with the seasonal cycle of Aotearoa! — the return of the sun at winter solstice; the return of the stars at... Photo: Anne Dean Ruffell What does Matariki mean to you? Can you remember when you first saw Matariki? I can. But it was by another name. In my early twenties with the help of a little star book, I began to explore the night sky from the balcony of my... I found this blog that I wrote nine years ago. It awakens memories of my years at Te Henga, the cycle of the kumara and the excitement of harvesting with the community. I thought you might enjoy it too. The kumara garden lies hidden between the dunes and the... Every Sunday my Aunt Jessie would visit the graveyard. The graveyard lay on the other side of town, a little further out than our house, so it became a natural thing for me to join her at our gate and run alongside. This is how I came to explore the... Do you resist letting go of a season once you have settled into it? Here in Aotearoa New Zealand as autumn rains are followed by a chilly wind that rattles the dry leaves on the pathways, I am thinking of change. In the northern hemisphere as... I’m feeling moved. Last night I asked a simple question to visitors on my Facebook page: ‘When you think about being old, what are your three main concerns?’ I gave a list of eight to choose from. (You may view the post here). I wasn’t sure if anyone... 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... Pōhutukawa love to stretch and yawn, to lean their limbs out into space, even as their roots remain firmly anchored in cliffs and solid ground. In the park where I walk, one such ancient tree has stretched a mighty limb out over the path. The bushy end of the... Here in Aotearoa after the expansion of summer, we are now facing contraction as the need to draw back into restrictions affects us all. In uncertain times, the rhythms of nature bring comfort and teachings. Expansion and contraction are part of the... When you lose your footing May the earth hold you When your heart is aching May the waters soothe you When life feels overwhelming May the air lighten you When your thoughts are darkening May the fire illumine you. Blessing... Their wings beat non-stop as they fly across the Pacific, leaving behind the cold of Alaska and landing in Aotearoa New Zealand. Spring is the season for the return of the kuaka (godwits). They may now be seen on sandbanks and estuaries along the coast... How do you bring yourself into alignment with the season? Which season? If you are in the northern hemisphere you will be in autumn right now, and approaching Halloween, Samhain, the festival of the dead, at the end of October. So here’s... Over the years that I’ve been writing these newsletters I’ve never had to think, ‘What shall I write?’ They always arrive easily. But this time I did find myself wondering, because my mind has been elsewhere during Auckland’s weeks of lockdown. I’ve... 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...Mānawatia a Matariki! Matariki has risen and it is time to celebrate. Welcome Matariki! Why has Matariki become so popular for both Pākehā and Māori, to the extent that in 2022 it will become a public holiday? Is the adoption of this festival just another... Do you ever allow yourself to lie fallow? — like the land after harvest, when its energies are spent? — when you know a growth spurt cannot be sustained and it’s time to rest, recover and regenerate? Fallow ground is land that has been ploughed and... 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 replied. I agreed. ‘These fine days feel as if they could last forever.’ ‘But they... 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... Do you find that each season is resonant with memories? Right now we are approaching autumn equinox (on March 20/21), a harvest celebration in praise of the generosity of Papatuanuka/The earth. This seasonal shift has stirred up a memory of another autumn when... 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... The land was on a grazed hillside, that was struggling to regenerate. When we first saw the bach, a coarse bramble arched across the doorway, and the interior smelt of dead ants. From the deck we saw tall bracken that had sprouted from the bare earth.... 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... Do you find yourself getting caught up in a lot of activity at this time of the year? A few days ago I gave myself a treat. After delivering a load of orders for my new book to the post shop, I took some time out at my favourite small beach on the... When walking in the park yesterday and saying hello to a tōtara tree that I like to visit, I checked to see if any of the spent flowers were now turning into berries. To my surprise, I discovered one bright berry hidden amongst the leaves.... This spring I am thinking of children. The energy of spring is full of delight and possibilities, as the season lifts its face to the sun and fragrance drifts through the air. On Sunday I wandered through my local park, enjoying an abundance of... 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... The odd thing was that just a moment earlier I had driven into a quiet patch where the rain had stopped and the air was still. I flicked off my windscreen wipers and drove into a side street. The next moment, in a blast from the skies, my little car was... You are walking along, head down, in that way of winter, trying to keep warm and dry as the rain falls. Your thoughts are dismal like the day. Then suddenly you spot a flash of colour on the path. You pick up two pink scooped petals. They look... ‘Be kind’, she said, and people were during the time of Lockdown Level 4, smiling on the street, offering help with shopping, and phoning to check on friends and neighbours. And then life reverted to busyness, rush hour traffic, and harassing by unkind... On Sunday, June 21, Matariki’s return will take place on the winter solstice. Although Matariki wanders around the solstice, it doesn’t often coincide in this way. This year the return of the sun and the return of the stars will happen together.... As the rain fell steadily, soaking the earth, I watched the season tilt towards winter and thought of Irihapeti. Twenty years earlier, we sat in her Wellington garden, talking of grief and how it so often accompanies the midlife crossing. She was... Every season takes us across a threshold, where we leave behind what we have known and shift into something new. In this time of the pandemic, other thresholds present themselves as well. Today, on the edge of winter and the storytelling season, I have a story for... The wooden bin in the Department Store was full of rag dolls, each one the size of a small child. The dolls had smiling faces, woollen hair that could be plaited or teased apart, and limbs that could be easily arranged. I smiled too as I picked one up... Have you noticed the health of the earth right now? Smog has lifted from the cities, discharge has eased off in the waterways, and C02 emissions are dramatically reduced worldwide. Many people have reported an increase in bird song as cities have... Two weeks ago I was striding along a coastal walkway, looking out over a sparkling sea, feeling free and expansive. I had just planted autumn kale and spinach in my bach garden and had the soil ready for the next stage of broad beans and carrots. Two... 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... 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 the season changes towards First Fruits, how do you balance extreme realities? — the inert face of parched earth with the juiciness of ripe stone fruits and berries? (If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, read on, because extremes can also be... 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. Finding the wonder in nature each day has enlivened my relationship with the natural... Solstice Blessing May you cherish your loved ones May you cherish the earth May you cherish your own dear self As the wheel turns at Solstice Amidst the busyness, remember to slow down, breathe, and open to blessings. ... 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... Do you gnash your teeth and snarl at those windy days when gusts and gales whistle and howl around your house and down the chimney, when they blow so fiercely that if you venture outside, you are immediately thrown off balance? Do you find yourself... I was surprised. She didn’t want to be Persephone in the school play. I thought all the girls would have lusted after the part of the maiden, dancing with her friends amidst the spring flowers, her head crowned with a ring of blossoms. But not 11 year old... So you have had a new idea? An inspiration has arrived out of the blue for something exciting that you would like to manifest. Which season is best to support this emergence? Before answering this question, let me tell you what’s new for me.... Do you get frustrated — wanting to plan a weekend away and once again the weather is choppy? Wanting to take a long walk but the winds turn you back? I find some of my frustration comes from an expectation that spring will turn into summer at any moment.... On a wet August morning last week, my readers surprised me. I had put a question to those who had come from the northern hemisphere to live here in Aotearoa New Zealand: ‘What were the hardest things about adjusting to our southern seasons’? ... The odd thing was that just a moment earlier I had driven into a quiet patch where the rain had stopped and the air was still. I flicked off my windscreen wipers and drove into a side street. The next moment, in a blast from the skies, my little car was being... At winter solstice the light began to return. And yet we plunged, as always, into the coldest part of winter. And we must wait for relief. If you are in the heat of the northern hemisphere summer, maybe you too are waiting for relief, only in this case it will... 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,... Can you love the dark? Do you flinch from it or do you walk towards its enfolding embrace? The winter quiet We have entered the six darkest weeks of the year (or the six brightest weeks if you are in the northern hemisphere, so here’s... Easter has just passed. What do you make of it, the way this spring festival of resurrection lands in the southern hemisphere season of dying? Of course, if you are in the northern hemisphere, you will be in high spring right now, and fully... The leaves were ankle-deep on Alfred Street. I scuffed through them, enjoying their crackle, while stopping to pick up handfuls to throw in the air. There I was in my red stockings and brown duffel coat, approaching the man whose job it was to rake up... How do you rebalance and return to equilibrium after the shock of devastating events? You may be wondering, can I ever find peace again? Or trust? Or safety? To restore balance at Equinox following the recent events in Christchurch, your inner world may... This was my karaka tree last year, in a great abundance of fruiting. The ripe berries fed many native birds who visited the high branches, shaking the surplus to the ground, where it peppered the pathways with rich orange plumpness. This year it’s a very... On my evening walk I saw a woman running down the steep street, very fast. In her hand she held something which she passed to another runner at the bottom of the hill. He took off up the hill while she bent over to stretch. I marvelled at their fitness.... May you cherish your loved ones May you cherish the earth May you cherish your own dear self As the wheel turns at Solstice Amidst the busyness, remember to slow down, breathe, and open to blessings. With love, Juliet Remembering what matters ... Erratic seasons, they can turn around and bite you just when you thought you could breathe a sigh of relief at the unfurling of leaves, buds, and your pain. A growth spurt is followed by a blasting storm and promise is killed on the twig, dashed from the... These children are full of the joy of spring. Yet at the end of October their schools and kindergartens will be encouraging them to don witches’ hats and commemorate death. What are we on about? How did this happen, that a northern hemisphere... I heard the chainsaws and knew the arborists had come back for the flame tree. From my window I could see its upper branches shaking and swaying. The men had fastened ropes to the branches as they sawed through, and lowered them one by one to the ground.... Do you struggle with the uncertainties and changeability of spring? Alongside bare trunks and branches, new grass flies through the earth, and I marvel at how these delicate blades can find... Are you ready for a change of season? In the northern hemisphere, summer will soon be melting into autumn, and I have an autumn message for you. Here in the southern hemisphere, winter is yielding to spring in fits and starts. Weeds are pushing through... 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... 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... 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 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 noticed... 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 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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. ... 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.... 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... Here in Aotearoa the autumn rains have fallen — without a doubt — and the season has shifted abruptly. What is your response? I breathed a sigh of relief when the autumn rains first began (not knowing at that stage just how torrential and persistent they would be).... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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... Grass is greening Branches falling Spring awaits While cold sedates Wind and rain Rise again Trees surviving Trees... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... Autumn is here in New Zealand Aotearoa and Mother’s Day has just passed. Pumpkins and apples are being harvested in the lingering warmth of May. The benevolence of the season has prompted me to give you an excerpt from my prize-winning book ‘A Cup... 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...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,... 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... 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... 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... 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...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... 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...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... 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... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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...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...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...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...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... ‘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,...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...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... 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... 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...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...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... 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... 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...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... 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... ‘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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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...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... 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... 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... What a fine summer we’ve been having! A fine summer draws us into the open air and extends our awareness, out into the world, stretching towards other people and new experiences. It’s a season of physical expansion, and also a time to relax into the... 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... 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... 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... Imagine . . . Imagine if . . .at this time of year,for every person who is speeding up,disconnectingand behaving erratically . . .there is someone who isslowing down,connecting deeplyto the still centrewithin,and taking special care.Imagine what the lead... 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... 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... 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...Do you dread the approach of Xmas? — the pressures, demands, organising and trying to meet everyone’s needs? — or maybe facing loneliness and grief if you don’t have family or loved ones to share it with? Xmas delivers such impossible expectations of merriment,... 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,... 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... In this wild and changeable spring maybe you feel somewhat tossed around. It’s hard to make plans in unpredictable weather. You plan a walk or a weekend excursion and end up thwarted by torrential rain or high winds. Similarly in life, the unexpected keeps... 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.Then... 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...We are approaching Whiringanuku, Beltane, Flowering and Sap-Rise, (on October 31): the festival of regeneration. However, there’s no regeneration in the death imagery of Halloween, which spills out of the shops in the form of skeletons, black costumes and... 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... 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,...Here we go again. Spring takes dainty steps forward, holding out sweet-scented posies, before lurching back again into grey, rain-lashed days. The glory of the magnolia is swiftly shaken to a pile of petals on the ground. An avenue of daffodils is rain battered. The... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... In the dark of winteran eyelid is formingIn the quiet of winterseeds are savedIn the storms of wintera face sleepsIn the hail and bite of wintera foot thumpsWinter’s cloakwraps around us while we wait.The season’s dark cavespins a welcome of silk.Can... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... Today is Autumn Equinox. Time to celebrate abundanceand 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 that... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 swingcan have a swing! There... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 treesin the gardens.Creativity is bursting out... 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 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... Green tunnels are forming everywhere down the streets where I travel. The spring growth is exuberantand 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 outthe stiff black base,caress it with a warmed cloth,offer it to the sunbefore... 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... 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... 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... 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... In Part One I told you about losing my precious brooch. In Part Two I told you about how I discovered the depth of my mother’s love, she who had gifted the brooch to me when I was 16. (This July marked 20 years since she died.)I also told you how I accepted that... 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... Come, gather around the fire and I’ll tell you the story I told at our family winter dinner. When I was 16 my mother, who always gave special birthday gifts, asked me if I would like to choose my own this year, now that I was growing up. She took me to a... 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... 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... 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... Waders dip their beaks A child dips her hand I dip my pen. Feeding at the edge We findtreasure. 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... 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... 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... ‘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 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... Red leavesScuttle in gangsScratching 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... New fruit crowds the lemon grove:unseemly jostling. Boronia leaves fan out against a terracotta step. Flame tree turns lemon-leafed this brightautumn. Around the time of our southern hemisphere Halloween, odd creatures appeared, like this gecko, caught in the outdoor washbasin at the bach, trying to escape, and eventually succeeding, but not before I snapped these photos. And then on the beach... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... The stream runs quietly down to the sea from the bush clad hills of the Centennial Memorial Park. The waters are flanked by wild flowersand under the bridge lives a troll who has to be appeased with feasts of fish, chocolate drink, and soup, all gathered... The stream runs quietly down to the sea from the bush clad hills of the Centennial Memorial Park. The waters are flanked by wild flowersand under the bridge lives a troll who has to be appeased with feasts of fish, chocolate drink, and soup, all gathered... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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.... 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... 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 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.... 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.... 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 pohutukawa... 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 pohutukawa... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 backQuickly now, let’s go.They were right, and in... 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 backQuickly now, let’s go.They were right, and in... 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... 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... 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 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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 the... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 moreand more stillall colours, it seemed.Later in the afternoon, I took a walk and watched the yachts scudding up and down while... 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... 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 –... 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.... 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... One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four. Summer’s gone, it’s out the doorIt didn’t come here anywayStill the children want to play.It’s been a month since I visited the bach, and here I am, blessed with that rare... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 calmAnd the world will... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 everywhere. 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... 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 seaare blossoming profusely, with their beautiful blue. Magnolias are sending up white spears, that open... 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 timewhile others simply sit, and enjoy gazing at the restful slopes of... 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... 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... 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,... ‘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,... 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... 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... 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 –... 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... 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... 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,... 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 ‘A... As I walk to the beach in the rain, my attention is drawn to the grassesthe 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 fulland the spinafex... 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... 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 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 are... 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... 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... 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 skirtsand the next day, puffing them outand here’s that tight... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... It’s peak greening time – halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice. Everything is growing apace. The nikaus are brightly spreading their fans,pohutukawas are pushing out new, light green foliage,and everywhere, the cabbage trees are flowering.A... 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,... 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 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... 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 pavementsending its fragrance into the air and attracting a myriad of beesLike spring snow it... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 wings... 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.... 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 with... 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... 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... 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 the... 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... 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... 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... 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 grieving. Flowers were blooming all along the way as I took my morning walk.A plethora of flowers.Do not lingerto gather flowersto keep them, but walk on,for flowers willkeep themselvesbloomingall your way.—Rabindranath Tagore 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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...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... 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... 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... 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.BUDA perfect wordLet it be saidEnfolding UFrom B/irth to D/eath. 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 youWhen the long day is done —Bless youIn your smiles and your tears... Tonight I’ll be celebrating the festival of First Light. In this land of Aotearoa, the inanga (whitebait) are wriggling their way up the rivers.We too will be listening to the new life that is young and wriggling inside after the hibernation of winter.The yellow... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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, 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... 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... 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 here... 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 of... 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’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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 pods,... 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... May 18It 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 27For sure, they were... ‘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... 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 year. 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... 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... 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... 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... ‘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... 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... 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, were... 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... 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... 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... I know a place where the pine trees growAnd the tanekaha, ever so slowIt’s there I go to fuel my fireWith cones to make the flames leap higherAnd there I find the toadstalls gold,Red ones tiny, or spotted boldEvery autumn I walk the trailsPreparing for... 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... 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... 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 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 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... 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... 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. I... 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... 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... 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... 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 berrieskoromiko flowerPomarderiskaro seed... 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 in... 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... 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... 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 contrasts. 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... 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 with... 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... 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... 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... 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... I’ve just returned from leading a summer retreat on Waiheke Island. There’s something about crossing water, and staying on an island that creates a zone of peace. It would have been easy to cut off completely; but in fact this was an opportunity to connect... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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... 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 landscape... 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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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... 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... 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... ‘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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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 again,... 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... 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 shared... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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,... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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 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... ‘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,... 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,... September 18September 22September 29October 6October 12Watching the greening in the tree tops from my balcony. The growth seems to have accelerated at a certain point, and I remember that we are approaching peak greening on October 31, which is Beltane in New Zealand... 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... It’s the evening after a meditation Intensive, and I take my favourite walk. I stand and marvel at the grass bank stretching before me. It glimmers, like a green and white silk scarf, a long one, ripping in the wind.I move closer and stand again to enjoy. Every little... 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... 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 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,... What a sparkly spring day it was on Sunday. Saturday I spent clearing storm debris at the bach, and dealing with a dangling power line. It took all day, just as I was leaving, for the Power Company to turn up and tell me they were ready to ‘liven’ me!Well,... ‘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... ‘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... 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 sky. 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 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... 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... 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... ‘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,... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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... ‘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... 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 smiles.