How to grow again

by | Oct 19, 2017 | Seasons Newsletter, Uncategorized | 8 comments



Sometimes the rhythm of a different season takes over.

I’ve been resting after surgery for an injury to my knee. This slides me back into a kind of winter quiet, even as the outer season is bursting with activity and new growth. The enforced rest gives me leisure, to look at the same thing without moving away.

New life

I’ve been looking at the flame tree which stands between my home and the sea. Its broken crown has shot out slender new branches, in the shape of an untidy fan. The tip of each has burst out in flaming flowers that wave in the wind as if they would brush the sky.


And because I’m resting, I drop easily into contemplation. I remember that day two years ago when a chainsaw rasped through the silence and I spotted two men climbing into the flame tree’s leafy crown.

I raced out to save the tree, and was laughed at. The men showed me the rot that had invaded the back of the trunk. By removing the heavy leafy crown, they were attempting to save the tree from falling over.

(Never mind, I’ll always be willing to look foolish for the sake of a tree).


Surgeons play a role

The flame tree appears to be surviving, even though its satisfying symmetry has been replaced by the gaucheness of amputation.

As I study it, I think of my injured knee, and how deftly the surgeon removed a small piece of torn tissue.

I think of how tree and body surgeons play their part in prolonging life, and how the awkward crown still puts out flowers, as I hope I will too, for many years to come.


The mighty totara

In my mini-season of rest, I read a large book about the totara. The totara is a true survivor tree. It can put out new limbs when broken, new roots when smothered by a flood of silt, and can even grow effective scar tissue.

In the South Island, kaka with their dagger beaks have cut long vertical scars into mature totara, in a search for the juicy sap inside. Such attacks would kill many a tree, but not the totara. It grows around the cut and seals it off, leaving a long recess.

The long recesses make perfect nesting places for pekapeka — the native bats. The pekapeka are safe in these vertical bark caves as they rest by day, breed and give birth to their young. At dusk the bats emerge, fluttering like butterflies in the evening light. And so new life is born from old wounds.

Pekapeka, totara and kaka have found a way to live together.

Nature is full of adaptive ability and cunning solutions. Ancient totara that have weathered many assaults may not look elegant, but they are tough. The flame tree is finding a new form, imprinted with its history. My knee is teaching me about self care. We will not be the same after this injury, repair and deep healing.

Spring is the season of regeneration, bringing with it a frothing surge of hope.

If you are in autumn, old scars will be revealed, but not before the mellowing leaves rejoice in a great show of glory.



Watch how nature deals with its cycles of loss and rebirth, and you will be in the company of a wise and reassuring teacher.

Whatever season you are in,
Blessings to you and your loved ones,


PS If you’d like to grow a creative project, check out the Spring Special for my Spirited Living Mentoring group.

You’ll find more about the group on this page


  1. Sharon Summers

    Yes, Juliet … the ‘Vinegar of Spring’ as alchemy refers to it. You have described the feeling sense of it so well here, i love your writing. It always goes further, expands and clarifies then expands some more. Your imaging whenever you write is glorious ?

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Sharon for this affirmation on a day when the words haven’t always fallen right. The ‘Vinegar of Spring’ is a very apt description; I hadn’t heard of this.

  2. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – I’m sure the healing of your knee will be full … you are well exercised … it takes time and I know knees are somewhat different to hips – but I was surprised how quickly I healed. Spring for you is wondrous – and nature does sort itself out – often after we’ve messed about with it . Take care, rest up, enjoy more good books … and by the time summer comes along for you – you’ll be easier … cheers Hilary

    • Juliet Batten

      Thanks Hilary for your cheerful encouragement. The healing is going very well and faster than I expected.

  3. Sue Kearney

    Juliet, I’m sending lots of love and healing vibes. Your commenter Hilary, above, reminds me of nature, and how we mess about with her. Well she’s been shaking her skirts mightily this last couple of months, and for the last too many days, very close to home (northern California fires). Intense times. Glad to see the placid energy-filled pictures of your new growing season.

    Blessed be.

    • Juliet Batten

      Sue,thank you for the healing vibes & love. Those fires must be very frightening in their devastation. Here, all is green and very wet, thankfully.

  4. Penny

    I read your encouraging words on a cool, rainy fall day with a sea of fallen leaves on our lawn and, of all things, a puff ball, a type of mushroom, growing in one of our garden beds. Today or tomorrow I will attempt to harvest and cook it, the last edible gift of the season. 🙂 Much like your pekapeka, totara and kaka, the puff ball has found a place to thrive and in a small but relevant way gives me strength to move into the next season.

    I hope your healing continues – I’m sure it will. Your active lifestyle will be in your favor, Juliet, and you will soon be challenging more tree trimmers to cease! 🙂

    • Juliet Batten

      Penny, what a delight to find the last puff ball, an edible gift. These signs of unexpected thriving are so encouraging. Thank you for your good wishes.


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